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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 only Samurai Shodown I've played was the SNES version of the original. I had a friend who liked to get fighting games, practice on them for awhile, then have me over so he could trash me at them. But I picked up Galford pretty quickly, and for a change I was the one doing the trashing.
  2. Over the weekend I got a sitter and took my wife out to see a movie. That took us out near a Walmart that's closer to the city than our local stomping grounds, and I was able to pick up Studio Series Voyager Class Rampage. I mean... I guess that's movie accurate? Mostly? We're really talking about a character that didn't have a ton of screen time, and whose design exemplifies the worst of the Bayformers aesthetic. He's got that same sort of "ovoid of jagged metal with eyes" that a lot of Bayverse Decepticons have and his torso is mostly jagged metal not immediately recognizable as part of his vehicle (save for the two pistons on his chest that aren't actually part of said vehicle). His distinguishing characteristics were probably his tread-whips, which this toy kinda has, and the lack of actual legs, which this toy has in spades. Depending on your thoughts on partsforming, Rampage either comes with three accessories or none. They are these two gray pieces, and this stand. Rampage's articulation is pretty poor, even excusing his lack of legs. His head is on a ball joint with pretty good up/down range and the ability to swivel if you want that confused, sideways tilt. His ability to look left/right is fairly limited at the ball joint, but there's a hinge at the base of the stem that gives him more range. Another hinge where the neck meets the torso, more for transformation, does allow for more downward range. His shoulders can rotate, and extend about 90 degrees, plus there's about 90 degrees of forward butterfly as well. YMMV, but the hinges that move his shoulders laterally are kind of weak and have a hard time holding his arms up. He has a bicep swivel... but then things start to go south. He has no elbows. He has no wrist swivel. His two upper fingers are hinged at the base, with additional hinges near the tips of his fingers. The lower claws have a hinge at the orange part and are not individually-articulated. His waist has a hinge at the top that bends forward, and a ratcheted hinge at the bottom that bends backward. He also has a ratcheted waist swivel. However, it's above the lower waist bend. So the thing is, if he's a straight as you can make him the jagged shards of his torso inhibit the swivel. But if you bend the lower waist hinge to try to get some clearance he's not turning to the side at the waist as much as he is leaning to the side. Then we finish off with a hinge at the base of his... leg? Tail? Speaking of that, he in no way shape or form can stand on it by itself. You have to plug it into the black stand that he comes with. Even then, if you extend an arm too far to the side without counterbalancing it with the other arm he'll tip over, stand or no stand. There are some some hinges in the treads hanging off of his arms, but the one closest to his hand where the treads are actually connected to the arm doesn't bend forward all that far, just a little past perpendicular, so his treads never seem very whip-like. As for the gray bits, you can leave them pegged along the sides of his back, where they go in alt mode. Or, you can pull them off and tab them onto his thumb-claws and use them like guns. Which, yeah, he did have guns in the movie, but they were a lot bigger than that. Rampage turns into a Bulldozer, not a tiger... well, Bonecrusher was taken. TFWiki suggests alternatively that it's a Komatsu D575A or a Caterpillar D11. I'm no expert, but this is definitely not a Komatsu D575A, and neither was the bulldozer used for Rampage in the film. It probably is a Caterpillar, but I'd guess D9, not D11. It's hard to say definitively, since there's no Caterpillar trademarks on the box and Hasbro probably just wanted something vaguely like it to avoid having to pay Caterpillar for licensing. Rampage's little thumb claws are just dangling off the back, but if you squint I guess you could take them for rippers. One bigger finger claw on each hand becomes part of the track spring on each side. His gray gun-bits top off the blade lift cylinders (the tilt cylinders are conspicuously absent). None of those parts move, so the blade is fixed in place. There's storage for the stand on the underside of the vehicle. The tracks don't move, but there are a trio of wheels that he can roll on. If we're being technical, Bumblebee killed the crap out of Rampage, and a different yellow bulldozer turned into Devastator's foot. But for the sake of not having to come up with another name for another Constructicon when Studio Series Devy is already going to be made of eight figures Rampage turns into a foot. So much for screen accuracy! I'm not going to beat around the bush. I think that Rampage is a pretty lousy toy based on a pretty lousy character. And if this were only a crappy toy based on a crappy robot design that turned into a bulldozer this would be one of the easiest passes I could tell you to pass on. However, I know that when Hasbro announced that Devastator was going to be done in the Studio Series it was a big deal, and I'm guessing that a lot more people are interested in making sure they have Devastator's left foot than they are a Studio Series toy of "that guy Bumblebee killed two minutes after he rolled up on screen in ROTF". Unfortunately, we might we waiting awhile before we know how the combined Devastator turns out- Rampage's instructions have three of the remaining seven listed as "available late 2019" and the other four listed as "available early 2020" (although one of those "early 2020" guys is already popping up at Walmarts, so who knows). I can't guess how good or bad the combined Devastator will be. All I can say is that if you wait to find out you might not be able to get your hands on a Rampage, but if Devastator turns out to be so bad you can't stand to display them combined you're going to have at least one Constructicon who's pretty much junk on his own.
  3. I broke down and bought Chromia. *shrugs* Chromia seems like an odd choice for Siege, what with Arcee being arguably the most well-known female Autobot, and Windblade featuring heavily in the Cyberverse cartoon and the new IDW Transformers series (the one that's using the toy designs in the comics). I guess they're thinking that Windblade and Arcee had Titans Return toys after their Generations toys (even if I never got close to one), plus Elita One, Firestar (as Novastar), and Moonracer all popped up in Power of the Primes, so Chromia needed an update to fit more with that aesthetic than her previous toy. And I guess that works. I wouldn't go so far as to say she's more cartoon accurate, but she's definitely got less exaggerated proportions, and I do think I prefer that. Unfortunately, she's got a lot of the same problems as the older figure. She's got similar, too-dark eyes that look kind of dead. She's got wheel kibble on her lower legs, although it's a bit more on the sides than jammed into her calves. And both toys have giant honking backpacks. It's a bit tidier and locks in place more definitively on the newer toy, but feels more egregious because that backpack is something like 70% of her alt mode. Something to note, I skipped the Moonracer and Fire/Novastar, as I wasn't a big fan of the PotP line and frankly they didn't look that great to me. I'm familiar enough with them to tell you that, yes, Chromia shares a lot of the same engineering. However, she doesn't have any of the combiner parts. If you've got Novastar, Moonracer, and Elita One you can't buy Greenlight and Chromia and hope to have a complete fembot combiner. Indeed, despite the shared engineering Chromia seems to be mostly new parts. Only the thighs and wheels seem to be reused. Chromia's got a few accessories. There's a pistol. There's a white part that can fit onto the pistol as a longer barrel or silencer, or tab into the top like a scope. There's also a pair of what the instructions call EMP grenades. The bottom of the grenades are 5mm pegs the smaller peg holes inside them, so you can stick them end-to-end and make one big gun. They also have tabs and slots on the sides, so you could use one as part of a gun barrel and one as a scope. The tabs are also just the right size to wedge them into a 5mm peg hole. Chromia's head is on a ball joint that can look down a little and up a great deal, as well as tilt sideways a little. Her universal shoulders can rotate, and they can extend a little under 90 degrees. She has bicep swivels and her elbows can bend 90 degrees. Due to transformation there's no wrist swivels but they can bend inward. Her waist isn't ideal. There is a swivel, but it's lower than her waist and behind her bikini. So it looks a little weird, and it's fairly limited. Push it too far and the blue bikini will pop off, as it's just friction clipped onto the sides of her pelvis. Her hips can go a little under 90 degrees forward and only about 45-60 degrees backwards or sideways. Her thighs swivel. The kibble on her legs limits her to about 45 degrees of knee bend, although if you move the kibble the knees can actually bend 90 degrees. Her feet can tilt forward and backward, plus she's got 90 degrees of ankle pivot. Chromia can actually hold the grenades like she's going to throw them. If you don't want her to hold them or to be a part of her gun the instructions tell you to store them in the peg holes on the sides of her backpack. She also has peg holes on the kibble on the sides of her legs, on the outside of her forearms, one on the back of her backpack, and one on each of her heels. I was pretty prepared to hate Siege Chromia's alt mode. I mean, she's a definite shell former, with most of the car coming from unfolding her backpack. It seems weirdly long and narrow in the middle. And, frankly, it's just not as cool as the older toy's Tron-esque bike mode. But then I looked up her cartoon alt-mode, and, yeah. Could be worse. I dare say that, in hand, the front half of the vehicle looks pretty decent, shellformer or not. We do start to run into some problems on the back half, though. Although Chromia's chest isn't as exaggerated as it could have been, and although the sides of her backpack try to fill in the taper of her waist, a good chunk of the rear still looks like an obvious fembot torso. And once you get past that, the vehicle just stops. That leaves a bit of a gap between her robot arms, filled only by her visible hands. And speaking of her elbows and hands, her forearms are supposed to tab into the backpack, which doesn't actually tab into her torso, and that's supposed to lock everything in place. Unless everything is lined up perfectly, though, you're going to have gaps between her arms and the backpack. And a little squeeze on the backpack is enough to start pushing things apart. You can kind of hide it a bit by plugging the grenades onto the little pegs that fold out as you fold her head in. Then I guess they're supposed to be like exhaust pipes or something. Folding her head in also causes a 5mm peg hole to open up on her sternum. The instructions tell you to tab the white part on top of the blue pistol, then to plug the pistol into this hole. Be warned that the tab isn't the most secure, though, and you're probably better off leaving the white part on the front of the pistol. In addition to the new sternum peg hole you've still got access to the peg holes on her forearms and leg kibble, now sitting just behind her wheels in her alt mode. The one on her back is also available in the middle of her canopy. I'll be honest, I like Chromia a little more than I thought I would, enough that I do think I prefer this version to the older Prime Arcee remold. But, in the interest of continuing that honesty, I didn't expect to like Chromia at all. And everything that I thought would be a negative still is, it's just that I don't hate those things as much as I thought. And ultimately, "I thought it would suck but it's actually kind of ok" isn't a ringing endorsement. She's still probably one of the worst Siege figures so far, and unless you're a completionist or a Chromia fan you can safely skip this one.
  4. I might be interested in the Castlevania one. Konami's being coy about what the other four games are (the four announced are Castlevania, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, Super Castlevania IV, and Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge). A lot of fans are speculating Rondo of Blood it Symphony of the Night, but those two were already just packaged this past fall as Castlevania Requiem. My guess is that the other four will be Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Castlevania: The Adventure, Castlevania Legends, and Castlevania: Bloodlines. I'd love to be wrong, though. I'll happily trade Simon's Quest and the Gameboy games for the GBA games, especially Aria of Sorrow.
  5. Well, last one until some more stuff comes out. It's Voyager Boss-class Siege Starscream. There's two things jumping out at me right away. The first is the head sculpt. I mean, it's better than the kind of mushy head that's on the old Classics figure, but Hasbro's been killing the heads on these Siege figures. But Starscream's seems kind of off. I can't put my finger on it. The other thing I'm noticing is that his legs seem kind of long. His torso is fairly close in length to the Classics version, so most of his extra height is in his legs. Oh, and of course there's the usual messy application of silver weathering... I really wish Hasbro would stop blowing their paint budget on it. Despite these issues, I think it's impressive how much Starscream looks like, well, Starscream, given how different his alt mode is. His only accessories are these two guns. Do I call them null rays? Actually, this might be another complaint I have have... they really don't look like null rays. I think they look more like sniper rifles. Although that's basically what the null rays were in the War for Cybertron game... Starscream's head is on a ball joint with ok up, minimal down, and way more sideways tilt than you need. His shoulders rotate and can extend just about 90 degrees. Due to transformation they've also got a butterfly joint; just a little backward, but a lot forward. His biceps swivel, and his elbows are double-jointed and curl nearly 180 degrees. His wrists can swivel. He does have a waist swivel. It's hindered a bit by his backpack, but I think you get all the swivel you'd actually need. His hips are universals that can get 90 degrees laterally, only about 30 degrees backward (again due to his backpack), but over 90 degrees forward. His thighs swivel, and his knees can bend well over 90 degrees. His feet can tilt down a bit, and you can bend just his toes to make it look like his foot is bent down further. His feet can tilt up probably more than you'd really need. He does have ankle pivots, but probably only about 30 degrees. For a traditional Starscream look you'll probably want to plug his weapons into the peg holes on the outsides of his shoulders. He can hold them in his hands as well. Plus he's got 5mm peg holes on the outsides of his forearms, the outsides of his lower legs, and one on each wing (facing forward in robot mode). Additionally, the thruster on the bottom of each foot and and the trio of them on his back are also 5mm holes. This might be a your-copy-may-vary thing, but I've noticed on my copy that the same 5mm peg on the handle of a gun can fit snugly into some of the holes, but a bit more loosely in others. Starscream has a few other touches that are nice to see on a mainline Hasbro figure. You might have noticed that there's no hollow spots on his forearms. That's because you don't just flip out his fists. His arms actually open, the fist spins into the opening, then the elbow joint collapses into the forearm in a manner very similar to some of Zeta's Aerialbots (and maybe MP Ironhide... it's been awhile since I played with him). Then, take a look at his calves. Again, no real hollowness, even though his thighs partially collapse into his calves for alt mode. His calves are actually an L-shaped panel hinged at the base (near the front of his leg). When you fold up his leg the panel pushes in so his thigh can fit, but when you unfold the leg a spring pushes the panel back out. That especially is a really nice touch, and I hope Hasbro uses it on more figures. If we peak under his chest, at what would be the bottom of his alt mode, you'll see a small hexagonal hole. Presumably this is for a flight stand. I don't have any that use a tiny peg like that so I couldn't tell you what stand does work with him, but I'm still sure that's what it's for. There's another hole between his legs for some robot flight stand action. And yes, he is (barely) balanced and doing a high kick there. Starscream's alt mode is an homage to the "tetrajet" alt mode seen in the G1 cartoon. It's not the first... I think that honor goes to Don Figueroa's War Within design, which itself was the inspiration for Starscream's Cybertron/Galaxy Force design. A few 3Ps have tackled that design as well, most notably Impossible Toys, whose robot modes were kind of meh but who really nailed the alt mode. Hasbro's is somewhere in the middle. The wings are a bit wider at the tips, the nose is a bit longer, and the nose and tail don't come to points the way the cartoon does. However, the sides are smoother and the cockpit is flush, which is better than a lot of attempts at a transforming tetrajet. There also isn't one big engine exhaust on the back. Instead, there's three near the top, and his feet make two more at the bottom. His chest is prominently on display from the back as well, but I don't hate it. Maybe that F-15 canopy is like a warp core or something. The engineering is actually pretty neat, and not as shellformery as you might have thought at first glance. The nose of the jet is actually made from the intakes on the tops of Starscream's shoulders. That does mean, though, that a lot of the jet is his wings and backpack, and the underside does have a lot of folded-up robot underneath. When I saw all that robot kibble in pictures I thought it looked terrible, but despite being no less noticeable it just doesn't bother me so much in hand. Aside from a little gap in the nose everything eventually locks in place nice as securely, so you can woosh this guy around your living room as much as you like. He might have to stay in the air, in fact... there's no landing gear or struts or anything like that. You set him down on his shins, more or less. The instructions have you plug in his weapons onto his robot shoulders... in fact, you can transform him without removing them, if you please. I personally think they look a little better if you move them onto the wing holes, now on the underside of the wings. If you like, you still have access to the ones on his forearms as well, but his transformation partially blocks the ones on his legs. The thrusters on this feet and back are still accessible, too. They're not in a good spot for guns, but if you've got some fire effect parts from some Battle Masters you can give him some exhaust flames. One other thing that's definitely worth mentioning is his chest. For transformation it untabs from his torso then moves up and over his shoulders and collars on these gray arms. The connection is pretty loose. I've seen lots of people have them pop off entirely during transformation. On my copy one side is basically worthless, but it takes some effort to pull it off the other. It's an irritant to be sure, but I have to stress that it doesn't affect either mode. Once it's moved it tabs securely back into place. In any case, the red parts of Starscream's chest have holes on the sides. It looks like maybe Hasbro meant to put a pin in there, then they just didn't. There are rumors, even, of a running change that does put a pin in there, so if you're out shopping you might want to look for the pin (you can see the hole through the box's window). If you can't find one (or the rumors turn out to be a hoax), Youtuber Peaugh has a video explaining how you can add pins yourself. In any case, Starscream was a figure that I wanted because he's such a main character, and the Decepticons are pretty outnumbered, but I wasn't super excited for him because I didn't think he looked so great in pictures. In hand, though, he's actually a lot of fun, possibly my favorite mold of the entire second wave. I have no qualms about buying at least two more of the mold (although I kind of hope they do something different for the Coneheads). He's not without his faults, but if you can get past them I'm giving Starscream a recommend. LATE EDIT: I remember that MP Tracks came with a flight stand. And sure enough, it fits between Starscream's legs justs fine. However, the hole in his chest seems to be smaller. I'm not ruling out it's use as an attachment point for a flight stand, but it's clearly different than the other hole. Oh, and I tried the between-the-legs hole in alt mode. It kind of works. The problem is that you're pushing the peg in horizontally, and the weight of the figure is too much for the non-ratcheted joints on the stand.
  6. I'm curious, but cautious. I checked with Speedtest and I should be good to go (72 Mbps down, 12ms ping). I'm also hearing you need Chromecast to play on a TV, and that's baked into the Shield TV I already own. But Stadia sounds a lot like PS Now and GeForce Now, neither of which have exactly wowed me. Just local streaming from my desktop to either the Shield or a Steam Link is janky as all get out.
  7. Especially since the current Leaders are basically Voyagers with extra add-on kits. I propose the following: Normal class (Deluxe) Boss class (Voyager) Xtreme! Class (Leader) Mega Class (Commander) Ludicrous class (Titan)
  8. Nobody's stocked diddly around here. I've been getting most of my Siege stuff from Amazon.
  9. What's wrong with Shockwave's alt mode? Take off the extra bits, turn it upside down, and it's his G1 gun mode. As for Starscream and Soundwave... well, let's start with Soundwave. That G1 Soundwave. Ok, seriously, he's got way too much paint weathering (although I've heard that it's pretty easy to get it off the chest, at least. And yes, he's got some extra kibble under his forearms and on his back. And as long as I'm listing faults, I'd have really rathered they'd given him cartoon red eyes instead of the G1 toy's yellow eyes. But in every other way he extremely G1 and, at least as far as robot mode goes, very much the Soundwave figure fans have spent over a decade clamoring for. I don't know what more I can add to that. Well, I can tell you about the accessories. He's got his signature shoulder cannon, his signature rifle, and a weird-looking extra gun. Soundwave's head is on a ball joint with some upward tilt, very little downward tilt, and plenty of lateral tilt. His shoulders rotate and can extend a smidge over 90 degrees. His biceps can swivel. His elbows are double-jointed and can curl nearly 180 degrees. No wrist swivels, but they can bend inward due to transformation. His waist swivels. He's got actual hinged hip skirts that allow you to bend his hips 90 degrees forward, a little shy of 90 degrees backward, and over 90 degrees to the side on frictioned universal joints. His thighs swivel. His knees can bend 90 degrees. He has a miniscule upward foot tilt, and about 30 degrees of ankle pivots. There's a peg hole on one side of his head for plugging in his shoulder cannon, and he can hold both of his guns. There's a peg on the back of the cannon that keeps bumping his backpack, so be aware of that. Or, you can unfold the gun and use it to connect his other gun to his shoulder cannon to form... well, I call it the worst thing I've seen in the Siege line. In addition to the peg for the shoulder cannon, Soundwave has 5mm peg holes on the outsides of his shoulders, the outsides of his forearms, the outsides of his lower legs, the bottoms of his feet, and two on his back. And yes, Soundwave is compatible with Laserbeak and Ravage, albeit one at a time. The button on his shoulder opens the chest, and Ravage or Laserbeak tuck snuggly into the door. Soundwave's left hand is even molded to have one finger out a bit so you can pose him like he's pushing the button. Things were going so well with robot mode, but here's where we run into trouble in paradise. This is Soundwave's spaceship mode, and... well, it's pretty terrible. His backpack unfurls into... warp nacelles? They don't look great or really lock into that position. I think they'd look better if they could fold out along the sides, but the struts they're on don't bend enough. Panels on the sides of his legs fold up to cover his thighs, but only from above. The side-view is still robo-thigh. And his arms are still pretty clearly arms wrapped underneath the vehicle. I'll admit that the cockpit on Soundwave's butt is a nice touch, though. Soundwave does have landing struts, so I guess there's that. There's also a thin gray plastic thing that flips up on the back. Couldn't tell you what it's meant to be. I'm not sure that it serves any purpose short of getting in the way. His rifle and shoulder cannon are meant to go onto the nacelle-things. They don't really help the look, but I'm not sure they hinder it... which is more than I can say for the other gun, which tabs onto the one side and doesn't do anything for this mode except look very, very out of place. Since I don't really care for the combined super gun, either, I guess I'm content to give that gun away to another Siege figure who might be more in need of a gun. Soundwave's chest is actually the back fo the vehicle, instead of the underside like you might think. It still has the clearance to open so you can still stick store or deploy a tape in spaceship mode. The one thing that might have saved the spaceship mode would be places to store more weapons, but transforming Soundwave basically means hiding all the peg holes except the ones on the nacelles. There is one alternative, semi-secret alt mode. It's not mentioned in the instructions, but it is official. A picture of it can be found inside the flaps on the bottom of the box. I gather that this is supposed to be an homage to the street light mode he had in the first episode of the G1 cartoon, although his arms are curled around behind him instead of hanging out to the sides. I kind of don't mind this mode. His arms actually do tab in place, and the landing struts sticking up off them look like handles while the engines on top could be gun barrels, so he's giving me turret vibes. I just wish the lower half of his body did more than spin 180 degrees. As far as boomboxes go, there's nothing official and I haven't seen any fan modes that I like. Evaluating Soundwave is tough. The robot mode is an easy A, and compatibility with tape-like Micromasters means the things a lot of fans would tell you are the most important in a good Soundwave toy are covered. That spaceship mode is a D-, though, and that's me being generous. I think I'm going to recommend him, though. As bad as the alt mode is, it's ultimately a brick that doesn't do much besides have a compartment you can stick some other smaller guys into, and if I'm being honest that kind of describes the G1 toy, too.
  10. Seems pretty cut and dry to me. They've (finally) decided that the Bayverse continuity is dead, Bumblebee is a reboot, more movies in the Bee-verse are coming, one of them is going to be a more action-packed summer tentpole set in the present and the other is going to be a smaller-scale prequel about Optimus and Bee.
  11. I might have told this story before, but I was kind of poor as a kid. Even though Transformers was my favorite thing as a kid I didn't have a ton of season 1 or 2 characters because my parents couldn't really afford much more than the occasional mini-bot. But things improved for us in... I guess '86 or '87. And for Christmas one year I did get Metroplex, who remains to this day one of the favorite toy I had as a kid. And if you read my reviews in the official thread, you probably know that I picked up the Takara Legends version of the Titan-class Metroplex, whom I thought was a fairly good figure but it didn't quite scratch my Metroplex itch. During a recent ebay flash sale I managed to pick up a figure that's been on my bucket list: Maketoy's Utopia, a 3P Metroplex. For some people the fact that Titan Metroplex is significantly bigger is an immediate deal breaker for Utopia. Metroplex is supposed to be huge, after all... but I think that's kind of worth considering a little more deeply. Yes, you can do stuff like put Combiner Wars Aerialbots on Metroplex' vehicle-mode runways, and I've even seen people put Generations Springer in helicopter mode on the city-mode helipad. But Autobots are supposed to live in that city mode. After playing games like Fall of Cybertron and reading the IDW comics when I think of Metroplex I think of a robot who could hold Optimus Prime in the palm of his hand. Those red windows on Metroplex's chest? I imagine those as the windows of a ship's bridge, and that bridge is worked by a whole crew of Autobots. Looked at that way even Legends-class figures are too big to scale with Metroplex. Short of building a house-sized custom Metroplex I think we have to accept that the citybots are always going to be out-of-scale with other Transformers. While Metroplex's size had a certain appeal when he was the only Titan-class figure, since Trypticon's release I think deciding that Metroplex is the clear winner just because he's bigger is short-sighted. If I pose Trypticon as tall as he can be, with his back and legs straight (something you're not likely to do), then Metroplex is a head taller and looks too big next to his rival. Lean him forward and get him in a bit of a crouch, though, and you can get Trypticon fairly even with Utopia (and if you're anything like me, if one is going to be bigger than the other you probably want Trypticon to come out on top). However you land on matters of size and scale I think Utopia is, aesthetically, a lot closer to G1 than any version of the Titan. He's got chunkier limbs and he doesn't have the same elongated torso and legs. His arms have more of that boxy made-out-of-buildings look, and his shoulders are topped with spires like the G1 version (although I'd have preferred white). The guns on the sides of his shoulders are less stylized (something you wouldn't normally expect to say about a Maketoys product over an official one) and aren't burneded by the flip-out handles. His knee pads are closer to G1, and don't stick up so far. That's not to say that Utopia isn't stylized. He's got a lot translucent red and black paint breaking up all the white, and ironically the stuff that actually should be read like his toes and the sides of his shins are black. His antenna are shaped more like blades, and he's got tank treads instead of wheels on his hips. A lack of partsforming means that he's got a tower sticking up on his back. Utopia probably isn't a figure you'd consider to be a proper MP representation of Metroplex... but that's goes double for Titan Metroplex. Really, my biggest aesthetic gripe might be the screw holes. I'm not usually super picky about those, especially when they're on the back, but Maketoys tried to keep the cost down by mirroring a lot of parts. In some cases that means stuff like his right shoulder having visible screws while his left shoulder doesn't. In other cases it means stuff like seeing actual screws on the front of his left hip and molded faux-screws on his right. Fortunately for around $15 you can get a set of screw covers and tiny representations of Maketoys' Giant (Devastator) and Battle Tanker (G2 Laser Optimus) you can display with Utopia for a better sense of scale. Speaking of accessories, Utopia comes with two big guns, 18 clear plastic stacks of Energon, two clips that can each hold six of those stacks, a small translucent red antenna, a small translucent red Utopia, and two identical sprues of little odds and ends you can use to make Utopia's alt modes seem more busy, I guess. Truthfully, I'm going to take the sprues, the little Utopia, and the extra Energon stacks, put them in a baggie, and stash them away in the closet. As for the big red guns, they're not designed to look like battleships on their own like the Titan's but they're much closer to the G1 guns that made up Sixgun's legs. The handles can be folded back (on ratchets, no less), and there are something like a cockpit that can be opened on the top. The little translucent Utopia is a little too big to fit in there, tough. There's also a door on the side of each gun. The clips with the stacked Energon slide into a gap inside, which is a cool touch. Utopia's head is on a ball joint. He can look up and down a little and tilt his head sideways a little; I'd have liked him to be able to look down a bit more, but it's already more than Titan Metroplex. His shoulders rotate on ratchets, and they can move laterally about 60-75 degrees on ratchets. His biceps swivel on tight ratchets. His ratcheted elbows are double-jointed and, despite the blockiness of his shoulders and forearms, cans till bend at least 120-180 degrees (depending how how you position his biceps, which are on sliders for transformation). His wrists can swivel. His thumb is on a ball joint at the base with one additional hinged knuckle. Each finger is also ball-jointed at the base but has two additional knuckle hinges. He's got a ratcheted waist swivel. His ratcheted hips can, in theory, get at least 90 degrees forward and backward. Practically some tank tread kibble on his back has to be moved to get that 90 forward and will restrict the backward movement, especially if his hips aren't spread. Which they can, about 45 degrees freely and 60 if you move the back kibble. He's got ratcheted thigh swivels. His ratcheted knees can bend 90 degrees. He's feet can tilt up one click and down 90 degrees on a ratchet. He's also got an ankle pivot, but it's not the best. Basically, it's yet another ratchet, but the teeth are pretty widely-spaced. With the shape of the leg around the foot you're limited to about one click. The problem is that his lower legs are too big to stand stock straight the way the Titan does, and the teeth in his hip ratchets don't line up with his ankle ratchets. So even if you put him in an A-stance, that stance is either slightly too narrow or slightly too wide and he's never totally flat on his feet. He can hold the red guns just fine using a typical MP-style system with tabs on the handles and slots on his palms. The guns on his shoulders can swivel, and they're not detachable. Which tower (or both) you want peeking up from behind is up to you, but they towers are hinged at the base and they have a pair of cannons that can slide out from inside so you can angle them over his shoulders a bit. If you don't want him to carry both guns, there's a keyed peg on the bottom of each gun that fits into the holes at the tower bases. The guns also have keyed pegs on the sides. You can use them to plug the guns onto Utopia's forearms. And if you're like me and want a more G1, tower-free look you can angle them like wings so that they're mostly hidden behind his shoulders. Side note, while we're looking at them- I like that you can slide guns out of those towers, but I really hate how Maketoys left the back of the towers open. Utopia originally retailed for $400, and you shouldn't have to put up with this kind of Hasbro-esque plastic-saving cost-cutting on a $400 toy. Of course, if we're talking G1 Metroplex we probably should decide if you mean G1 toy or G1 cartoon. The G1 toy had red eyes, and Utopia can do that look (albeit with some black eyeliner). The cartoon had a visor, though. And if you push the forehead crest in, a translucent red visor will slide down over Utopia's eyes. That's my preferred look, so I guess I like cartoon for my G1 Metroplex. But options are good. Speaking of the G1 cartoon, he had a double-barreled gun to the left of his head. You can do that with Utopia, too. Just flip around a panel on that side. The gun is even hinged so it can move up and down. The other side has some kind of molded room with translucent red windows. You can plug the translucent red antenna into the top of it. One other weird thing to note about robot mode... his toes open up. Not sure why. I guess you could store some of those extra Energon stacks or the other bits on the sprues in his feet. Utopia's ship mode is arguably less G1 accurate than Titan Metroplex's. I think a big part of that, though, is because Utopia actually transforms instead of sitting down and sticking his arms out behind him, and therefore doesn't look like a robot sitting down and sticking his arms out behind him. In fact, the ship mode is surprisingly cohesive. Aside from the towers sticking off the back with guns extended (what, are they supposed to be engines?) I could buy this ship mode as some kind Federation mobile suit carrier. Unlike the G1 and Titan versions Utopia's arms are curled up. The towers sticking out from behind kind of fill that need for something sticking out from behind, I guess. Also, the instructions officially have you pluggin the big red guns in so they're pointing backward. Again, maybe they're supposed to be engines? There's no reason you can't turn them around so they're facing forward, which is what I prefer to do. Actually, I'd prefer to plug them right into the middle of the runways like the G1 toy, but that's probably close enough. But seriously, I do like this mode a lot. The knee pads look like the catapult doors for launching an Aerialbot (or a mobile suit, or a Valkyrie) off the runway, while the panels covering his fists on the sides look like where cargo would be loaded. Utopia's head and part of his chest are folded out of the way to reveal a bridge with fold out panels on the sides. Which brings up the only thing I don't really like about this mode, and that's the transformation. See, the top half of Utopia's chest is on sliders, and the sliders run through the part of Utopia that his head is on. So to transform him to this mode you have to slide them back, lower each side, lift the section with the head up part of the way, slide the chest parts forward again, move the head section the rest of the way back, then slide the halves the of chest back again. While I'd buy Utopia's ship mode as a spaceship, G1 Metroplex of course had wheels and was like some kind of land-driving aircraft carrier. As I said, Utopia does away with the G1 wheels in favor of tank treads. I don't know about you guys, but I think if someone ever built an aircraft carrier that traveled over land that tank treads are more probably than giant wheels. There's eight pairs of treads total. There's two treads on each calf, one on each hip, and a pair that unfold from his butt. The ones on his legs are all on sliders, too. The instructions aren't clear on the matter, but I think they're all closer to his feet in robot mode and closer to his the back of the ship in ship mode. The pair on his butt have some piston bits that you can also fold out. Sadly the treads don't roll, and Maketoys didn't put any wheels in them, so Utopia doesn't actually drive on the ground. Again, Utopia actually transforms to his city mode. The transformation does a pretty good job of making the city mode look visually distinct from the ship mode, something I'm not sure Titan Metroplex really pulls off (especially if you have the retail Hasbro version with only one gun to use as a tower). The towers on his back come into play, and his shoulder armor slides down to cover his bicep, making it look like an actual tower and not a tower with an elbow in the middle. A helipad flips out from inside his chest. His thighs have to be positioned a certain way to allow the waist to rotate 180 and keep the hip treads out of the way, and I think it keeps things in-line better than the Titan's approach. The backs of his legs don't open up like the Titans and is arguably less G1 accurate for it, but it's at least visually interesting, distinct from robot or ship mode, and not a big empty hollow space like the Titan. So, even though it's visually distinct, it does have two things in common with the ship mode- it's more cohesive and looks less like a robot sitting down, and you still have to move the chest parts more times that you ideally want to because going from ship to city means raising the chest back up to get the clearance to rotate the waist, and going from robot to city means sliding the chest back and forth twice to keep the sliders lined up with the part the head is on. While the thighs have to be positioned a certain way you can bend the knees however you like, so it's possible to give him more of a G1 spread. Personally, I do like them pointed straight forward. The right side of his chest does still open and have an extendable ramp. It's big enough to drive a Legends-class or smaller car on, like Generations Scamper. However, because of the way it folds up into his chest when it's closed you can't close Scamper in there. Maybe a smaller car, like a Micromaster, would work. Also, while the official transformation has the guns in the towers tucked away you do have the option to slide them out. In addition to the door on his chest, the other side has a fold out door with molded missiles, just like the other versions of Metroplex. Interestingly enough, there's a little door you can open on his arm tower as well. And remember how I said his feet open up? The instructions have them open in city mode, too, although they can't open very far. As for the big red guns, I suppose you could attach them to the arms and have big cannons on the sides of towers, but the instructions have you plug them into the back. I kind of like this. From the front they're basically out of sight, and from the back they remind me of the kind of pipes/struts/geothermal doohickeys you might see on some kind of base or building in some sci-fi movie. And while we're back there, on the left side of his back? There's another door. All these storage spaces, it's really a shame Maketoys didn't give us much to put in them. Where's Scamper, slammer, and Sixgun? So... let me preface this by saying that I've wanted a Utopia for awhile, I'm glad I finally got one, and with the flash sale on ebay I think I got him for a pretty good price (around $310 shipped). I think he's all-around better than the Titan Metroplex- better proportions, better articulation, better aesthetics, better alt modes that don't look like different ways a robot can sit down, scales better with Titan Trypticon. That being said, it's hard to actually recommend Utopia. Today, in 2019, we live in a world where you can buy two-foot-tall MP Omega Supremes for under $300. I just can't say that Utopia is worth the $400-$450 he went for at retail. And really, retail's dried up. While you might get lucky and find one for less on ebay or through a Facebook group like I did, most aftermarket listings I'm seeing are closer to $500-$800. Even though I think it's an inferior toy I think the $100-$150 Generations Metroplex went for at retail was probably a more fair price for what you were getting. Of course, stock of Metroplex has largely dried up, too, and aftermarket prices for any version of the Titan have gotten fairly absurd as well. I guess my recommendation is ultimately this: think about how much you really want a Metroplex. If $300+ is too much maybe try to find a good deal on a version of Titan Metroplex. But if you're going to spend over $300, especially if you're want one badly enough to shell out for some of these aftermarket prices, then Utopia is the superior toy.
  12. If FT's designer is smart, he'd rip off improve on Transportation Captain and call it done. The Captain was already like 90% there. Bigger size, better materials, better tolerances, better proportions, and better paint are all I really want. Yep. Just had a discussion with another guy about that. He prefers more realistic alt modes, and I respect that, but those realistic alt modes just don't look like Blitzwing and Astrotrain to me.
  13. TFCon's going on in LA. Honestly, I haven't seen much new stuff. There is this new Star Convoy coming from MMC, though. Apparently he's called Stellarus Prominon, and he'll be the first figure in an Ocular Max subline called Ocular Max Unlimited. EDIT: Spoke too soon. Zeta is doing Raiden for their next combiner. I've been pretty unhappy with Fans Toys' stuff for the last year or so, but we've been in dire need of a better MP Astrotrain than Chigurh, so I'm going to keep my eyes on Thomas. And Fans Hobby, who you guys should know I adore, announced that they've altered their plans to make a smaller Armada Optimus toy. He's now going in the Master Builder line as MB-15, and his super mode is going to be bigger than Power Baser. Now, for you guys that might not have heard, in addition to my main MP display I have one display just for various Optimus toys. Armada Prime and Star Convoy are big deals for me, then. If Maketoys is still planning on doing Cybertron/Galaxy Force Prime then I kind of just need MP versions of Rid/Car Robots Prime and G2 Hero Prime to die happy.
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