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About mikeszekely

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  • Birthday 02/03/1980

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    Pensburgh, PA
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    3P Transformers, video games, quantum gravity, hockey

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  1. The Transformers Thread Next

    Alright, I've left you hanging long enough. We'll do the other more-anticipated figure in the Studio Series line, Leader-class Blackout. For a Leader-class figure Blackout is decidedly short. He's not much taller than the original Voyager-class Blackout from the first movie, and to the head he's actually a smidge shorter than the movie 1 Voyager Optimus Prime. Such is the sacrifices we make to keep everyone relatively in-scale. That said, for a character who had probably one the best scenes in the entire five (so far) film franchise, Blackout's been a pretty neglected character, one who's best toys have actually been repaints of that original crappy Voyager. And this new Leader class, despite his shorter stature, is wonderfully screen accurate. I'd have prefered more paint, with the gray parts being a darker gray and the silver parts being a more metallic (and maybe bluish-tinged) silver, but the biggest differences from his silver screen appearance are that he's got panels on the soles of his feet, and that his forearms are covered in helicopter kibble. But the rest of it, from the spot-on head to the junk splitting the copter on his torso to the kibble behind his head to the skinny chicken legs to the knee armor poking up through the shins is all movie-accurate. In fact, my only real complaints are his refueling probe and his hands. For the probe, it's a question of why did they choose to have it sticking out so far with no way to retract it? There's a hinge on it so you can point it down or try to tuck it under his chest, but it doesn't quite work and still seems in the way. For the hands, well, they're technically accurate with two big fingers and one thumb arrange in a pinching manner, but aside from the transformation hinge they can't move, so unless his arms are slightly out turned and relaxed at his sides they look like they're oriented the wrong way. Blackout comes with two accessories. The first is the tail rotor for the helicopter... yes, SS Blackout has partsforming. The other is a little Scorponok figure. Scorponok doesn't have a lot of articulation; two hinges in the tail, and elbows that can swivel in and out. That's more than the Scorponok that came with the original Voyager got, though. Plus SS Scorponok has some silver, gold, and red paint and enough molded detail that he looks good, like a Studio Series Scorponok should, and not just like a cheap toss-in accessory. So for articulation Blackout's head is on a hinged swivel. Turning his head is slightly limited, but with all the kibble around it I'd say it's a fairly natural range, and he's got a little up/down movement. His shoulders rotate, but again that's limted by his shoulder kibble to about 90 degrees forward or backward and maybe 60 degrees laterally. As a bonus, though, the shoulder assembly can be untabbed at one spot (that doesn't really stay tabbed anyway) to get a little bit of a forward butterfly joint. He's got bicep swivels, and his elbows can bend 90 degrees. As previously mentioned there's no articulation in his hands, and he'd have really benefited from a wrist swivel and maybe a hinge for his fingers/thumb. No waist swivel. His hips are ratcheted and can get 90 degrees backward or laterally, no problem, but his hip skirts can only hinge so far forward so his hips are limited forward to about 60 degrees. He has thigh swivels, and double-jointed digitgrade knees. The upper knee can go from straight to 90 degrees backward. The lower knee can go from straight to about 60 degrees forward. And, happily, his feet can bend up and down a little and he has inward and outward ankle pivots about about 45 degrees. All-in-all, his artuclation is a little limited, but on a bulky guy with Blackout's build I think it's alright. As far as weapons, the tail rotor can peg into Blackout's arm. Technically in the movie it looks like Blackout is using the round piece above his head, and it looks like it should be the main rotor with six blades, but you can clearly see him stalking down the street in Mission City using it while his copter blades are still on his back, so I guess this is the compromise. Scorponok sits on a peg on Blackout's back, and you can orient him head up or head down; I think head up is movie-accurate. If you want to store him in a more hidden way, well, you can stick him on the inside of Blackout's backpack, but you have to unfold it, and I don't really think it's worth it. Blackout unfolds more than he folds to to transform, and the result is a pretty-accurate (to my fairly untrained eye) MH-53J Pave Low III helicopter. There's a few places I wish things tabbed in a little better, but I've got no real complaints from most angles. I will note, though, that he's pretty big in this mode. Any doubts you had about calling him a Leader-class in robot mode are out the window in copter mode, as he's a bit larger than even an MP Seeker. Even from the sides he looks good. The rotors do spin, but not super freely, like you're swiveling them around more than they're spinning. I could do without Blackout's name printed on the tail, but the red-outlined white stripe is accurate (if a little large), and he's also sporting a few other USAF markings, including the 4500X. Blackout doesn't clean up quite so tidy underneath, but that's ultimately OK. You can see how Scorponok tucks away inside the tail. Ultimately, Leader-class Blackout definitely has some room for improvement, but the Studio Series isn't the MPM line. He's not going to satifiy any desire you might have for an MPM Blackout. He's a $50 mass retail figure, not a $100+. And, I think in that light, he's a decent figure that makes for a pretty nice display piece, especially with other SS figures to display him with. He's a major improvement from other toy versions of Blackout, and I think he's worth the price of admission. I think it's also worth mentioning something else about the Studio Series toys... there's been a trend in recent years for Generations figures to be kind of cheap, hollow simple toys. The Studio Series bucks this trend. All four figures I've looked at so far have been detailed, fairly accurate, and have had more articulation than a lot of recent Generations toys. They have transformations that sit comfortably between too easy and too hard. They remind me, a lot, of when Generations was Classics or Universe, when the toys we were getting seemed like they were priced fairly, decently made, and fun to play with.
  2. The Third Party Transformers Thread

    I just sold mine a like two weeks ago for $400. My opinion of him hasn't really changed since I reviewed him; he looks cool, but he's full of odd design choices and winds up being no fun to handle. They're less stable, but I'm keeping the ToyWorld ones for my combiner and Gigapower for my MP Dinobots.
  3. The Transformers Thread Next

    Ah, ok. And yeah, the full line so far goes like this: Deluxe Bumblebee (Transformers) Ratchet (Transformers) Stinger (Age of Extinction) Crowbar (Dark of the Moon) Voyager Optimus Prime (Revenge of the Fallen) Starscream (Transformers) Leader Blackout (Transformers) Grimlock (Age of Extinction As far as I know, the only other announced figures are Deluxes Jazz (Transformers) and Lockdown (Age of Extinction) and Voyagers Brawl (Transformers) and Megatron (Revenge of the Fallen). I do hope they plan on continuing the line, though, as Ironhide, Barricade (with Frenzy), and Bonecrusher are the only movie 1 characters not represented. I have to admit, as spoiled as I've been my MP and 3P and as disappointing as the mainline toys have been for awhile the Studio Series is turning out better than I expected.
  4. The Transformers Thread Next

    Is that a Walmart or a Target? I've seen the entire line at my Target but nothing at three different Walmarts, but it sounds like it's the other way around for a lot of people.
  5. The Transformers Thread Next

    Next up is a figure that I think a lot of people are lukewarm on for essentially being an upscale of an old Deluxe-class figure: Studio Series Voyager-class Starscream. When I first saw the Bayverse Starscream I was a little off put, becuase it's a design that doesn't really say "Starscream" to me. It's grown on me over time, though, as alien and menacing... something the original Voyager toy never captured. In fact, aside from a pretty good leader-class toy (that actually wound up becoming the first MPM in Japan), the best Starscream toy was probably the Dark of the Moon Deluxe-class (which my daughter has, in its place is the Thundercracker repaint). It's so good, in fact, that the engineering and and transformation are pretty much carbon-copied to the SS version. However, the Deluxe was already one of the most movie-accurate Starscream toys around, and scaling it up to Voyager makes SS Starscream even more so. The tail on his back, the little chunks of wings on his shoulder, and the mechanical junk in his torso are all accurate. Indeed, scaling up to Voyager allowed for more molded detail like the wires in his biceps, and the the fold out torso chunks have an additional flip out panel to better fill him with even more movie accurate detail. Aside from color, which is based on the first movie instead of his tatooed Revent of the Fallen appearance, the better torso filler parts, and the sharper molded etails he sports entirely different, more accurate details in some spots like the backs of his legs and front of his forearms, the thrusters on the backs of his knees aren't hollow and have additional molded detail, and his hips are different. Just a little more paint and those spikes on the tops of his feet and he'd be giving MPM-1 a run for his money aesthetically. Accessory-wise he just comes with this little bladed missile launcher. As near as I can tell it's accurate, but it'd have been nice if he had his gatling guns, too. His aesthetics aren't the only improvement from the Deluxe class. Some of the joints have been changed as well. His head is on a swivel, but unlike the Deluxe there's a hinge so he can look up. His shoulders, previously ball joints, are now hinged swivels that give him a little over 90 degrees laterally. He retains the transformation hinge on the bicep, but instead of all ball joint at the elbow he's got a real bicep swivel and a hinged elbow. The hinge is about 90 degrees, but you can use the bicep hinge to fake a double-jointed elbow and 180 degrees. His wrists have a hinge for transformation, but where the Deluxe had a second transformation hinge SS Starscream has a ball joint at the wrist so he's got a swivel and some bend. His has universal hips instead of ball joints, and can move 90 degrees forward or backward and slightly over 90 degrees laterally. His knees, feet, and lower leg swivels are the same as the Deluxe. Other improvements include some extra tabs and slots that help lock everything in place in both modes a little better. Starscream's weapon has clips on the rear that fit into notches that are revealed on his wrist when you fold his hand in. This is the movie accurate way for him to wield it. It also has a peg, though, that can plug into the peg holes on his forearms, as would any weapon with a 5mm peg. Or, if you don't want him wielding it at all, you can store it on one of the peg holes on his back. Peg holes that I'm hoping could accomodate movie-accurate thrusters... get on that, Shapeways! Like I said before, the transformation is identical to the Deluxe, so the main aesthetic difference is the paint. Looks like he was molded in beige plastic, then they put a gray wash on him before adding some white and tampoing his wings. The transformation hinge in the spine is blended better, and the screw holes near the wing root isn't as obvious. I'd have preferred they started with a gray plastic, but I think it ultimately looks fine. Speaking of looking fine, yes, he's got some kibble on his belly, like oh-so-many jetformers (including MPM-1). SS Starscream is no exception, although compared to the recent spate of Voyager-class toys that are jets with very obvious robots underneath Starcream at least folds up. I don't really know what to tell you here... if the kibble bugs you, it bugs you, but like I said I've seen much worse. From most angles he actually looks fine; you have to be looking on at the side or from underneath to really see it, and the crotch kibble especially gives you a convenient place to grab with your fingers and swoosh him around. Like the Deluxe, SS Starscream has flip-out landing gear, and like the Deluxe the wheels are molded on and don't spin. And his weapon has two slots on in that fit two little tabs just to the front of his exaust nozzles for weapon storage. Or, again, you can use the peg to peg it into one of the many peg holes on the underside of the jet. You can also see the intakes are painted black vs. totally unpainted on the Deluxe. If you stop reading, thinking, "I already have the Deluxe some I'm good" or "why would I want to pay $30 for an upscaled Deluxe?" I suppose I'd understand. But the fact remains that the Deluxe was one of the best movie Starscream toys. Despite lifting most of the engineering and all of the transformation from that toy, the improvements in engineering and aesthetics take a good toy and make it a great toy that has the benefit of being in-scale with the other Studio Series figures. And of the SS figures I've got my hands on, I'd say Starscream is actually the best one. Recommended.
  6. The Transformers Thread Next

    Continuing my little look in to the Studio Series, today we'll go over Optimus Prime. Now, I originally wasn't going to bother with Prime, because obviously MPM-4 is a much better, much more accurate toy. In fact, despite the notion that the Studio Series would be more screen accurate than previous movie toys, I'm not sure if SS Prime is actually better than the Voyager Battle Blades Prime from Revenge of the Fallen (which, sadly, I don't have to compare it with. The way the wheels fold onto his hips seems wrong, with the lower wheels being obscured by the folded armatures the upper wheels connect to. Hinges on his chest obscure details. His backpack, while not the biggest backpack I've seen on a movie Prime, is wide enough that it makes his torso's proprtions seem off. It doesn't show well in photos, but the red plastic is much too dark, almost a maroon color. And, especially after seeing all the paint on Grimlock, Prime's definitely lacking in that department, which is even more dissapointing when you realize he's a little smaller than older Voyager Primes (like my movie 1 Target-exclusive, who's pretty terrible) but carries a higher $30 price tag. However, I don't want to give the impression that it's all bad, though. There's a lot of accurate molded detail here, and if you actually look at just his body and ignore the backpack he's also a very well-proportioned Prime, possibly the best-proportioned Voyager-class prime to date. I really feel like a customizer who's handy with an airbrush could really make this figure shine. As I mentioned before, though, he's not the biggest Voyager-class toy, coming in about a head shorter than figures like AoE Evasion Mode Optimus or Battle Blades Optimus, and only standing a head taller than a Deluxe-class movie Prime. However, by some quirk of fate he seems to be just the right size to go with Dark of the Moon Voyager-class Megatron, which pleases me (probably more than it should). Accessory-wise, Prime just comes with his arm blades, which look pretty good. One side has a 5mm peg hanging on an arm off the bottom, the other side has a tab on the blade. If there's one thing that Prime does do well, at least as a Voyager, it's articulation. His head is on a hinged swivel, so he can look up a decent amount, down a taste, and turn his head. Like Grimlock, the rotation is a little hindered but he can get nearly 90 degrees to either side, and that's enough. His shoulders can rotate, and the blue flap is on a hinge that gets out of the way so his shoulders can move maybe 120 degrees or so laterally. He's got bicep swivels, 90 degrees of elbow bend, and wrist swivels. He's got a waist swivel and thigh swivels just above his knees. His hips can kick forward something like 140 degrees, enough to kick a Decepticon of similar height in the face. Backward is more limited due to his backpack, and laterally the tires on his hips limit him to about 60 degrees, but that's enough for plenty of action poses. His knees can bend until his calves start bumping his thighs, maybe 160 degrees. His feet can tilt up about 45 degrees, down nearly 90 degrees, and can pivot a little under 45 degrees (which isn't a lot compared to MP and 3P, but is fantastic for a mainline Voyager), so you can keep his feet flat as well. As a bonus, he's got a small hexagonal peg hole on the underside of his crotch that is probably compatible with some kind of action base. As far as the weapons go, the 5mm peg goes into his fist, nothing fancy. However, they're meant to go in the bottom of his fist, creating the illusion that they're popping out of his wrists. When he's not wielding them you can use the tabs on the blades to store them on Prime's back. I'm a little surprised that Hasbro/Takara didn't do the whole stretch out the legs, then sit down and touch his toes transformation considering how well it seems to work for this Prime (it's been used now for MPM-4 and at least one Leader and one Voyager-class Prime that I know of). The legs actually transform a little more like Evasion Mode Optimus' do, and that results in a much messier hitch section. Maybe this totally original mold opted for a different transformation for scale reasons, because Prime folds up into a pretty tiny truck that's utterly dwarfed by the movie 1 Voyager and MPM-4. Indeed, he's fairly similar in size to the Deluxe-class. Which, again, makes him seem like a good fit with DotM Megatron, and that still makes me happy. And honestly, the truck mode doesn't look too bad. There's the earlier issue I mentioned of the red being too dark. Some yellow/orange airbrushing, the silver pinstriping, or both would have helped the flames on the front pop more. The unpainted hubcaps are a real shame, as is the choice of red plastic instead of blue or gray for the the part connecting the fuel tank. Oh, and the smokestacks are too short. But once again the molded detail, especially on the front half of the truck, is pretty spot-on. In truck mode, you have options for weapon storage. You can tab them into the bottom of Prime's feet for neat storage, or you can tab them into his roof if the thought of a murderous semi with giant blades barreling down the highway tickles your fancy. Studio Series Prime isn't a bad toy, but a I do feel like he's a harder sell. As a display piece, he obviously lacks the presence of a figure like MPM-4. As a Voyager-class toy I'm not convinced that he's better than Battle Blades Optimus or Evasion Optimus. On his own, I'd probably pass. However, if you're thinking about picking up more than one or two of the other Studio Series figures then the fact that they're in-scale (despite being spread across three size classes) is definitely a draw, at least for me. If you want to make a little movie display but don't want to pay MPM prices and/or wait for more than 3 released/4 announced figures in that line then the Studio Series seems like a possible alternative and Prime is worth checking out.
  7. I was a little young for Night Court, but I loved him in Dave's World. Bummer.
  8. The Transformers Thread Next

    Well, I guess I'll start with Grimlock, since I suspect he's the one most people will be interested in. So my initial impression is kind of "wow!" For one, as near as I can tell it's much more screen-accurate than any previous movie Grimlock toy. The dino head shoulder pads are a little large, maybe, but the head, the shape and sculpt of all the armor, the robot proportions, they're all pretty much spot-on. And, in a statement you're unlikely to ever hear me utter about a mainstream Hasbro toy every again, the paintwork is phenomenal. He's basically molded entirely in two shades of gray, but maybe 80% of him has this greenish-silver airbrushing to give him a burnished metallic look. He's all plastic, and at about the height of MP-08 he's too small to scale with MPM-4, but he's still large enough, detailed enough, and has enough presence that he definitely makes for a nice display piece. This is the part where I'd talk about accessories... except he doesn't come with any, unless you count he cardboard diaorama insert in his box. Which reminds me, I'm going to establish this now- all the Studio Series toys have a cardoard insert in the box that you can pull out and make a little background for the toy. I'm not going to really talk about them, though, because they look kind of cheap and crappy to me, and I consider them packaging more than accessories. Anyway, here's a picture of Grimlock's back instead. Again, beautifully painted and accurate down to the long butt flap. For articulation, his head is on a ball joint and can get some sideways tilt, good downward tilt, and no upward tilt. The ability to turn his head is also a little limited to under 90 degrees to either side, but I think that's fine. His shoulders rotate on ratchets, and he's got ratchets for lateral shoulder movement as well. Unfortunately, his armor limits him to about two clicks outward, or about 45 degrees. His bicep swivel, and his elbows bed about 90 degrees. However, his elbows are wrong; the hinge bends foward when his arms are in a position like my first picture, when it looks like his elbows should bend inward. In fact, arms have a curl to them that looks like he's already bending his elbows in a bit. That's it for the mace hand. The other hand, though, has a tranformation joint you can bend in place of the elbow (which has less tension, but looks more "correct" to me), as well as a wrist swivel. He has a waist swivel, but it's limited to about 45 degrees in either direction due to his hip armor, but again I think that's fine. The hip armor, butt flap, and crotch flap are all hinged and can move out of the way of the hips (at least a little), which can ratchet 45 degrees forward or backward, and a little over that laterally. His knees have a soft ratchet good for 90 degrees, but if you unpeg the knee and use the tranformation joint you can fake a much deeper double-jointed knee bend. Finally, his ankles are basically big ball joints so they can swivel as well as tilt up, down, or pivot, although I'd have liked a little more pivot. Transformation to dinosaur mode is fairly straightfoward. And at a glance he looks pretty good, with the painted red dino eyes practically glowing amid the gray and silver face. The paint still stands out as being very impressive in this mode. And he's still a pretty decent size. There's not a ton of dinosaur articulation, though. The jaw can open about as far as in the previous picture, or close to the position of this picture. He has no dino neck articulation. His robot shoulder gives him a sort of ratcheted mid-body swivel, but it kind takes the front of his dino chest and his dino arms with it and don't look very good. The dino arms are on ball joints so they can rotate and wiggle in and out a little, but that's all he's got there. His tail is a lot like his chest, in that his shoulder joints can be engaged but doing so pulls apart the tail more than it articulates the tail. His dino hips, thigh swivels, and ankles are all the same as his robot ones. His knees change a little, engaging an aforementioned transformation joint to switch to a digitgrade stance. Articulation isn't the only drawback to his dinosaur mode, either. While it looks pretty good from some angles and with casual looks, closer inspection starts to bring out some flaws, like the fact that the dino head is hollow in the back. From the side you can see his chest is just a folded up arm, and there's some gaps you can see through. The bony look of his flank is only on one side of his body; the other flank is his robot mode back. The worst might be his tail, though. The mace hand kind of unfolds to make the tip of the tail, but otherwise he's basically just holding his arm out to the side. The faux dino head that formed his shoulder pad unfolds over it to hide much of it, but it doesn't lock in place in any way. And his soft plastic butt flap kind of tucks up onto the bottom, but again doesn't lock in place The contours don't even really match, so it's not a very cohesive look. As I said, though, I think he still looks ok overall, as the Bay designs are busy enough to distract from the flaws. That said, especially given how little screen time his robot mode had, Grimlock's one of the few characters where they'd have been better off compromising the robot mode for a better dino mode than compromising the dino mode for a great robot mode. Overall, he's no Masterpiece, and the lack of accessories and somewhat limited articulation lower his "play" value, but I think he's definitely a pretty good display piece for the modest $50 price tag. This isn't a toy that's going to suddenly sell you on the Bayverse design if you already hate it, but if a good-looking movie Grimlock is something you've been wanting I can give the Studio Series Grimlock a recommend.
  9. The Transformers Thread Next

    Because cars are taller proportionally, I think. EDIT: And, yep, I was at Target and they had the entire wave of Studio Series toys in all three classes. I skipped the Deluxes... I have no attachment to Stinger or the dreadlocks guy, who were both pretty much "blink and you'll miss them" characters, and as big as Bumblebee is I want new Camaro Bee or none. I'll possibly go back for Ratchet. I did wind up buying both Voyagers and Leaders, though (despite having a far superior movie Optimus in MPM-04). I guess I bit because one of the gimmicks with the Studio Series is that they're all supposed to be in the correct robot scale, and I feel like we're more likely to actually get a decent representation of movie characters I like in-scale with each other in the SS line than the MPM line. I mean, as long as you count any version of Megatron then every movie 1 character except Barricade, Bonecrusher, and Ironhide will be represented by the second wave (although Megatron is going to be RotF Megatron). And yeah, I still the most Bayformers look like someone tossed the cutlery drawer into a blender. And yeah, the movies are still mostly terrible. But after 10 years they've become a part of the franchise I can't really overlook anymore. Some of the characters I still loathe (Skids and Mudflap, are going to top that list), but some of them like Blackout and Barricade have really grown on me to the put where I want psuedo-G1/IDW versions (Micromasters don't count!). And for as terrible as the sequels were, I watched the first Bay movie the other day with my little girl (she loves Bumblebee), and I think it's actually not too bad. The bit at the beginning with Blackout attacking the miltary base was especially pretty cool in the theater. Anyway, I'm rambling. It's late here. I'll try to put up some reviews later in the week.
  10. The Transformers Thread Next

    Tell me about it. I say I don't like the Bayformers designs. I say that I'm done with Hasbro. But the Leader-class Studio Series toys are probably something I'd buy if I see them in stores. Maybe Starscream, too- I did rather like the Deluxe version...
  11. The Third Party Transformers Thread

    You could make the case that Meteor's face was too dark (personally, I thought it was fine in hand), but Starscream's face was darker than Skywarp and Thundercracker's in the G1 cartoon. Two things I do find curious, though: One, why are Skywarp's hands black? I mean, the parts that are blue on Starscream are unpainted on Meteor. Those parts are the same parts that are black on Thundercracker and purple on Skywarp, so if Maketoys just used the exact same mold they used for Meteor's blue parts with purple plastic instead Skywarp would have purple hands. Making them black would actually require Maketoys to use a slightly different mold just to get the colors wrong anyway. Two: This matters a lot less, but why do Skywarp's chest, pelvis, intakes, and face appear to be painted silver, but the same parts on Thundercracker appear to be a glossy light gray? I feel like they should be the same color.
  12. How much did you like Far Cry 3 or 4? There's a lot of the same sort of stuff going on; kill a bunch of stuff, take over outposts, do stuff for people, find collectibles, etc. I'd say the main differences fall into three categories- 1. No more radio towers. Initially, the whole map is grayed out. You fill it in by walking around. You can also talk to the people you come across, and very often they'll tell you where stuff is. Road signs might indicate some type of animal or fish is nearby. And sometimes you'll find maps that will mark locations of interest on your map. Generally I like this, as it feels more organic and the radio towers were kind of boring. In 4 I did most of them by flying a Buzzer to the top to avoid the actual climbing. 2. No more crafting, and no leveling up. All the stuff you'd have got from hunting before, like bigger ammo bags or whatever, are considered perks now. All the skills from the skill trees you could get whenever you leveled up are also perks. Most perks are available to unlock from the beginning of the game; only a few have prerequisites. To unlock a perk you just have to pay the required amount of perk points. Perks points are gained in one of two ways. The easiest way is to find magazines that give them to you. There are usually 1 to 3 whenever you find a prepper stash. The other way is through challenges. When it comes to challenges, a lot of them are pretty easy and you'll do them naturally, like kill X number of enemies with a shotgun or get X number of headshots. Some involve hunting or fishing, so while you might not need four deer skins to make a bigger wallet you'll still find yourself killing four deer for the perk points (that said, aside from animals that attack you, you'll probably kill the minimum required to complete the challenge and do a lot less hunting overall). I'm fine with it, but if I'm being totally honest I like the separate leveling and hunting in 3 and 4. Leveling for skills isn't super different than completing challenges you were going to complete anyway, but there are some you might not have bothered with (like killing X number of baddies with Molotovs), and hunting just isn't as important. 3. Progression. In Far Cry 3 and 4 you could really spend as much time as you wanted screwing around, tracking down posters, hunting, whatever, and totally ignore the story. In 5, the map is divided into three regions, and doing basically anything (side quests, story quests, outpost liberations, rescuing that one guy tied up that the baddies keep marching down the roads, etc) gives you points. As you gain points, you'll see a message like "there are hunters after you," you'll get hit by a tranquilizing "Bliss" bullet, then wake up in some sort of plot-advancing level. On the one hand, I like that it gives even small side quests more weight, but on the other hand in games like Far Cry, Assassin's Creed, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, etc, I actually prefer to avoid the main quests as long as possible (I put something like 40 hours into Skyrim without going further in the main quest than getting the first shout). Also, since getting enough points in a region will raise the cult's level of interest in you, you'll find them getting more and more agressive while you're just trying to do stuff like loot stashes. After awhile, it gets annoying trying to just explore when airplanes are flying overhead every few minutes. On the whole, I'm still far from finished (I've totally liberated one of the three areas), but I'd say that my favorite in the series is still 4. Aside from the radio towers I have a slight preference for the mechanics in 3/4, Kyrat was more fun/diverse than Montana, and the Seed family lacks the panache of Pagan Min. But if you liked 3 and 4, 5 is similar enough that it's still enjoyable and different enough that it doesn't feel quite as same junk/new setting as 4 did over 3. If it turns out to be hackable (or just has enough of the lineup that I want from it) like the NES Classic/SNES Classic, I'll probably buy one. I never owned a Genesis/Mega Drive and I'm not as nostalgic over it the way I am the NES and SNES, but I could see myself collecting little mini consoles and hooking them up whenever I get that retro urge. As for Shenmue, I'm in for PC, but I'm kind of curious why there's no Switch version.
  13. The Third Party Transformers Thread

    I guess they're not the "cool" choice, but I do most of my business with TFSource. They don't have preorders for Lightning and Skycrow yet, but as so as they do they're going in my stack. Which is getting kind of large. I know Bobby Skullface did a video recently about 3P kind of slowing down, but I wonder if the downturn wasn't just because of Chinese New Year? Well, until those preorders start turning into "in stock," I picked up another previously-released figure that I didn't get around to earlier. This would be X-Transbots Paean, their version of an MP Hoist (and the third one on the market). Now, I usually like to open these by talking about the aesthetics, but this time I want to show you something first. These are MMC and BadCube's Hoists, respectively: And this is Hoist's animation model: Looking at MMC's and BadCube's, it's super obvious that they made a Trailbreaker toy, then retooled him a bit to make their Hoist. To be fair, that's mostly true for the G1 toys as well, but the fact remains that a lot of collectors want MP-style toys that more closely resemble the animation models than the G1 toys did, and Hoist wound up having a very different animation model than Trailbreaker did. MMC clearly took their Trailbreaker, painted him green, gave him rounder forearms, then called it a day. BadCube looks like they put a little more effort into it, and from the knees up mostly works. But I'd argue that only Paean really captures the awkward pelvis, bizarre knees that jut out on the sides, the tube-shaped thighs and shins, and the wheeled booties of Hoist's animation model. Regardless of the merits of the MMC and BadCube's figures, I'd say the fact that Paean is more animation-accurate would be the primary draw of the figure. For scale, I've placed him with Maketoys' version of his buddy Grapple. While I think the size is fine, it does mean that he can't fit inside BadCube's version of Gears (or any version of Gears, as of this writing). Paean comes with a ton of accessories. You've got two single-barrel wrist guns, one of which I'd say is necessary for a proper Hoist. You've got a hammer, as seen in the episode where he was working on the solar tower with Grapple. You've got some kind of double-barreled wrist cannon from an episode I'm sure I don't remember. There's a pair of wrist connectors that are apprently for attaching MP Ratchet's accessories to Hoist's wrists. There's the requisite toy-styel head. You've got not one, but two alien masks from "Hoist Goes to Hollywood." You've got a model of the solar tower he built with grapple. And you've got two attachments for alt mode, one with three ratcheted joints and a claw at the end, and the other tentacles made from segments linked by ball joints, with clamps at the end. Paean has some articulation issues, but some bright spots as well. His head is on a hinged swivel, and if you use the transformation joint he can look down a taste but straight up. His shoulders have ratcheted joints inside his chest for transformation that let him slump his shoulders down, and a softer ratchet in the shoulder that lets him extend his shoudlers laterally 90 degrees. You can cheat a little more using a transformation joint to rotate out the front of the bicep as well as everything from the elbow down. Rotation is just friction, and his shoulders have a tendency to get caught on his backpack. You have to squeeze the backpack and basically grind the shoulder around it, and unless you rotate his arm enough that you totally clear it the lateral motion is blocked. He does have bicep swivels, and elbos that bend just shy of 90 degrees. His wrists swivel. And his hands are a shining example of why KFC's articluated hands suck (I'm honstly not a fan of articulated hands at this scale beyond the carbot-style single-pin at the base, maybe with a separate index finger that has one extra joint for pointing). All five digits are ball joints at the palm. For the finger the ball all joint is part of the first section of finger, with hinges at the middle and top knuckles. There's no pins in those hinges, though. The thumb is worse; the ball joint has a weedy, thin stem that the next segment of thumb sits over, with one more hinged segment, and there are again no pins. So you have fingers spinning around in their ball sockets and parts of fingers and thumbs that pop off super easily. I was tempted to take a photo showing that when I transformed Paean from truck to robot I had the thumb and the first three fingers come off trying to get the hand to rotate out, but ultimately didn't. Moving along, the waist swivels fine. His hip skirts move out of the way so he can kick about 90 degrees forward, backward, or laterally. His thighs can swivel. His ratcheted knees are single-jointed but get a little more than 90 degrees. His feet can bend up, with the toes being able to bend up more if you need it, and down slightly, although if you fold down the back of his foot then you can bend the foot down 90 degrees. And he's got great ankle pivots that actually bend over 90 degrees. So while posing the arms can be tricky, the legs have enough range and are easy enough to manipulate that you can still get him into some pretty dynamic poses. His signature wrist gun can be attached by popping a hand off of the mushroom peg, then slotting the gun in its place. Something I really like that XTB did here is that the barrel of the gun splits, so the entire thing can fold into his arm for transformation and you don't have to remove it. The hammer also slots onto the mushroom peg. Meanwhile, the double-barreled gun and the wrist connectors for using MP Ratchet's accessories have little pegs on them. Folding in either of Paeans wrists reveals a hole on one side that those accesories plug into. Given that most of us probably consider the wrist gun a sort of permanent Hoist thing and the hammer a temporary one I do wish the hammer used the plug that the other accessories do instead of fitting onto the mushroom peg, especially because Paean can't transform without removing the hammer. It looks like swapping the heads involves sliding the default cartoon head off of a mushroom peg as well, but it was pretty tight. Since it's my preferred head, I decided not to risk damaging the figure just to show off the toy head. As for the mask, there are tabs on the sides that just grap onto Paean's head with friction. The smaller mask is apparently for MP Tracks, whom I bought but hasn't arrived yet. Paean turns into a Toyota Hilux (SR5 Pickup in North America) with towing gear in the bed. The caution stripes draw more from the toy than the cartoon, although it lacks the white outline. The grill is also more accurate to the real truck than either the cartoon or the toy, which is fine with me. The towing gear isn't as simplified as the cartoon, which is fine by be. Instead there's molded tool boxes with painted silver clasps, but the sirens are still there and his wings are still folded over the top. His back-mounted weapon also stays attached, folding down just under the wings. The tires roll fine, and they do seem to be made of a hard rubber. The transformation itself isn't particularly difficult, especially given XTB's reputation, but it can be a little finnicky to get everything tabbed in place. The towing part can fold down, and there's even a little wroking wheel on it. Sliders let you move the sides out to the width of the car you want to tow. However, cars wtih wider wheelbases like MPM Bumblebee were stretching the limits, and vehicles with long front ends may not fit. If you move the wings out of the way first, you can fold up the back-mounted weapon and deploy it in truck mode. And tabs slots on the back of let you tab in the claw arm. The claws have springs that push them back into a closed position after you open them, and the tension is enough that he can at least carry the model of his solar tower. The same clips slots work wtih the tentacles. With all the ball joints the tentacles are obviously very articluated, but they're not particularly strong. I found that the tentacles have trouble with their own weight, let alone trying to hold something with them. The only issue I have with Paean that I haven't brought up is a small one. Basically, there's a transformation hinge at the top of the tailgate that folds the towing gear up over the top of the the rest of the junk in his bed to form the backpack in robot mode. The hinge is friction, and a little loose, and there are not tabs or pegs that keep the towing gear in place. As a result, I find that the tailgate frequently drops down over his butt with the towing gear pointed straight out the back. It's a minor incovenienve, but it would have been nice if there'd been a way to lock it in place for robot mode. On the other hand, while I'm always hearing horror stories about KFC/XTB quality, Paean strikes me as a solid if imperfect figure, whose aesthetics and accessories generally outweigh a few tolerance issues and some articulation difficulties in the shoulders. Now, FansToys announced awhile back that they were doing a Trailbreaker, but we haven't heard anything in years on that let alone a Hoist remold. Likewise, Takara is rumored to have Hoist and Trailbreaker in the works, but whether there's anything to those rumors remains to be seen. For now, Paean's a pretty good figure, and I think he's the Hoist to beat. Unless you're really set on waiting (indefinitely) for a FansToys or Takara version, I'd give him a recommend.