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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. I'm having a hard time getting a total length (or telling exactly what model year Prime is), but I was able to find that the wheelbase on a '74 FLA86 is 231".
  2. Eh... I haven't been a big fan of GCreation's stuff, but I'm interested. Looks like the dino head splits in half, with the lower jaw forming the back half, to make the shoulder armor. I prefer that to the Studio Series.
  3. Not out of the box, no. But every other mini console has been hacked, so maybe eventually.
  4. Well, see, I really didn't know that. Like I said, I don't know trains. Which reminds me of something I was thinking this afternoon; when you're familiar with a subject, even (or especially) if you're not an expert, you tend to underestimate how much other people don't know about that subject. And yeah, as someone who used to do computer setups and repairs for retirees looking to Skype with their grandkids, I get how frustrating it can be to listen to someone describe something they know nothing about (getting it wrong in the process). All I can do is try to remember this discussion should it become relevant when Fans Toys releases Thomas. BTW, I had YouTube on while I was trying to get some work done this afternoon, and I happened to catch Baltmatrix' Astrotrain review. You'll be happy to know that he correctly identified Astotrain's box as a tender. I don't think I knew that they were the exact same locomotive, but I knew that they were extremely similar. In fact, as I often tell you guys, my family was poor and I didn't have too many pre-movie/Season 3 Transformers, but I had a ton of Gobots. I had Loco, and I used to pretend he was Astrotrain.
  5. Short answer: because I'm not a train fan. I don't have model trains, I don't know things about trains, I'd never even been on a train (including subways) until I went to China. And yeah, I do get that this sort of locomotive burns coal to turn water to steam to drive the pistons that make the train go, and if I stop and think about it the coal required needs a place to go. But it's it really incorrect to refer to the tender as a train car? I mean, I understand that not all cars are tenders (including box cars), but tenders still look like cars to me. In this specific case, though, because it doesn't look like a tender. It looks like a lot box on treads (with more treads on the roof). Dunno. Never watched Thomas. My impression of this sort of locomotive is entirely formed by Astrotrain and the Gobot Loco. Neither of which had tenders. Can't speak for everyone, but I'm more interested in the fight going on on top of those wild west trains, I've never been to Disney World, and I've never been to a train museum. I feel like this is where you're really venting more than referring specifically to my review. But in the interest of being very clear, I don't mind that they gave Astrotrain a tender. I just wish they'd have used the tender to cover the unfinished half of the shuttle. I also think that a lot of TF fans would have preferred not to have it and some of the guns and Astrotrain been labeled a Voyager instead, but that's small potatoes to me.
  6. Still waiting for Spinister. But I've got a handful of little guys. First up, we have Battle Masters Rung and Singe. Rung's an interesting one, as he's hugely popular with the subset of Transformers fans who've read James Roberts' excellent More Than Meets the Eye and Lost Light series from IDW comics but completely unknown outside of that group. So, no, he's not going to scale properly, and IDW fans may still be holding out hope that someone like MMC will deliver a better Rung figure in the future, but at the same time I'm pretty happy MMC is throwing IDW fans a bone by giving us a Rung at all. And this Rung is... ok. If you ignore the backpack the sculpt is actually pretty good, although his arms could use some of that white paint they used on his thighs and the yellow stripes on his chest should properly be red. His feet are kind of weird, too. Singe, on the other hand, is pretty unremarkable, as yet another repaint of Firedrive. Well, at least the colors are looking pretty good. Oh, and if you have Shrute from the set you had to buy to get Skywarp then he, along with Singe here, give you both of Spinister's Targetmaster buddies. Singe's articulation is the same as it ever was, basically just ball joints at the shoulders and hips. You can pull the gun barrels off of his back and use the 3mm peg on them to stick them onto Singe's arm (they they didn't give the mold 3mm peg holes in their fists I'll never understand). At first blush Rung looks like more of the same, except he also has a waist swivel. Which is cool, I guess, but not as cool as elbows or knees would have been. It's also worth mentioning that his backpack isn't removable, and it kind of pushes against his legs so he's always bent forward slightly. Singe, again no surprises, turns into a gun. He comes with some nice green effect parts. Taken at face value Rung is also, in the Siege continuity, a gun. His feet are weird because they're the barrel of his gun mode, and the blue effect parts he comes with plug into his feet. Those who've read The Lost Light know what Rung's alt mode really is; for the purposes of this review I'll say that this gun mode is close enough, but again needs more paint. Especially around the circle at the back/top. Moving onto Micromasters, probably the most-anticipated release smaller than a Deluxe would be Frenzy and Ratbat. Although there's a weird typo on the box and in the instructions calling him Rumble, we're living in an era where cartoon accuracy is now so sacrosanct that silvers are being replaced with whites and alt modes are becoming shells that fold into backpacks on robots full of faux parts to match the cartoon's often poor animation better. This "Sunbow über alles" mentality has to be the nail in the coffin for the "Rumble is red, Frenzy is blue" crowd. Regardless of what name they'd put on the box, if they'd put the blue one in this pack I think they could have quit. Most of us could have lived without Frenzy and Buzzsaw, as they were almost never in the cartoon. But fans are still going to demand Hasbro give them the blue one, and since Micromasters go in two packs you have to figure Buzzsaw is coming with him. Regardless, Frenzy's looking fine, if a little squat, although he's got weird bumps coming off of his fists. Guns? Piledrivers? Who knows. No backpack guns, either. Ratbat is also lacking a backpack, and he's got some molded kibble between his ears. But he's adorable and I love him. Articulation isn't a huge improvement over the Battle Masters. Frenzy's shoulders are still ball joints, he still doesn't have elbows, bicep swivels, a waist swivel, or a neck. His hips are hinges, though, and he's got ball-jointed knees. Ratbat's got hinges at his hips, and swivels at his shoulders so his wings can go in and out. His neck is on a double hinge for transformation, but it does give him some miniscule head posability. But he really can't do much, because his wings have to open to maximum for him to stand, and he's really balance between his feet and the tips of his wings. Attempts to pose him will just unbalance him. Frenzy and Ratbat turn into... rectangles. I mean, we can't really call them tapes, since they haven't been to Earth yet, right? One side each looks pretty rectangular all right, while the other leaves their faces peeking out at you. As was the case with Ravage and Laserbeak, one side does have a flip-out peg that you can use to attach them to the 5mm ports on a Siege figure. So maybe they're armor... that blocks stuff with their faces. Of more interest to me is the idea that someone like Dr. Wu could do an upgrade kit that gives them their backpacks by using those pegs as attachment points. And yes, they do still fit in Siege Soundwave and Soundblaster's chests. Soundblaster can even fit two of them. Last but not least we have these color-coordinated guys, who I didn't really want but had to buy to get BBTS to sell me Frenzy and Ratbat. The one on the left is Power Punch, and the one on the right is Direct-Hit. And before you ask, no, I'm not sure why one is hyphenated and one isn't, but that's a convention that seems to go all the way back to their G1 days. Like most of the other Micromasters these guys are modern versions of G1 Micromasters. And like the other Siege Micromasters the biggest changes to the engineering in 30 years seems to be that they have ball joints for shoulders and hips (and knees, in the case of Direct-Hit) and their legs aren't stuck together, giving them ever-so-slightly better articulation than their G1 selves. Power Punch is looking very G1. The biggest differences on him seem to be a second shade of blue on his shins and fists and some silver on his chest to bring out some details. He also doesn't have the original's super visible belly screw, and he's missing some kibble on his collar. Direct-Hit has the same second shade of blue on his forearm, but for whatever reason Hasbro decided to give him a black torso, like Power Punch, instead of the G1 toy's darker purple, which he does retain on his chest vents. His face is also a metallic copper now, vs the bright orange of the G1 toy. Both Micromasters transform into some sort of armored vehicle. Direct-Hit fares a little better here, because I think he looks more complete on his own. He's got his windows and marker lights, and what appear to be molded guns in front of a peg I'm going to pass off as a hatch. Power Punch has a nice purply-pink cannon, but nothing that looks like windows or anything a driver could see out of, unless we're supposed to pretend that the super obvious hole in the front is a window. But then again, these guys have a gimmick, and it's the same gimmick the G1 toy had. Flip down the hatch-peg on Direct-Hit, then plug it into Power Punch's hole to make one long armored truck carrying a cannon. Vaguely Onslaught-ish, I think. And very G1. The biggest differences seem to come down to extra molded and painted details, like marker lights, the darker blue bits, and the gunmetal section with the molded guns. Speaking of guns, while it can be tabbed to lie flat for robot mode, the cannon is on a hinge and can articulate up and down on twin mushroom pegs. The instructions even suggest that you can remove the cannon by pushing the pegs out of their sockets, but I think that'd just wear them out over time. Besides, the 5mm peg on the top of the cannon isn't really so other toys can use the cannon as a gun. The Siege gimmick dictates that the Micromasters combine to be a weapon, and in this particular case you do that by turning the combined vehicle over and plugging the 5mm peg into a fist so that the rear of the vehicle is pointed forward. And sure, that does kind of look like a missile launcher or something from dead on. But from the sides it looks like he's holding an upside-down truck, and from above you'll see both Power Punch's and Direct-Hit's faces. Which brings me to the recommendations. And they're pretty much the same as they always are for the smaller figures- they're cheap enough that you can get them if you want to, but (mostly) unimportant enough that you're not really missing anything if you don't. I could do without Frenzy but you have to get him to get Ratbat, and as a fan of the old Marvel comics who remembers reading "Car Wash of Doom" as a kid I will never turn down a toy of my favorite Fuel Auditor. Fans of IDW are likely to appreciate having some representation of Rung, and if you bought Skywarp and you're planning on buying Spinister you might as well pick up Singe to complete the group. Direct-Hit and Power Punch are probably the hardest sell here, unless you actually had the G1 versions, as they've had basically no representation in any media for you to get attached to. But they're certainly not the worst Micromasters I've handled.
  7. Like @M'Kyuun I can appreciate the engineering, if not the aesthetic. But honestly, the prices are keeping me away more than the aesthetic. $140 for Overload, $150 for Mixmaster, and $180 for Scavenger? No thanks. Long Haul and (I presume) Scrapper are a more palatable $110 each, but we're already talking almost $700, and if theirs has as many members as the Studio Series version we're talking about three more members. Even if we assume that two of them will be cheaper (since two of the missing ones are the only two Hasbro did as Deluxes) you're still almost certainly between $900 and $1000. I'm sure it'll be bigger, more accurate, and more impressive than the Studio Series one, but Studio Series is the limit of what I'm willing to spend on (most) Bayverse stuff.
  8. Nearly a year ago, I reviewed New Age Flipper, a tiny Legends-scale Bumblebee. Well Kubianbao (aka KBB), the same people that gave us a Voyager-sized MP-10, went and upscaled it as "Hornets Agent". I'm not going to do another review, since pretty much everything I said about Flipper still applies (minor articulation issues, excellent sculpt). I do want to highlight some things, though. At first blush, Hornets Agent (right) looks almost identical to Flipper (left), just maybe 40% larger. There are some changes, though. For one, the plastic is different. The yellow is a slightly different shade, but I'm not sure if that was a deliberate choice or a result of using a different, harder plastic. There's a black cover over the screwhole on Hornets Agent's butt. And the head is different. It's hard to put my finger on exactly how, as they have similar shapes, but the face is a little more like MP-21's with a smaller mouth and less-flat face. Hornets Agent also seems to have a new sculpt for his gun. It's not as nice as the Takara one (mine's from the G2 version of MP-21), but it's closer to Takara's than Flipper's was. Unfortunately one thing KBB copied from New Age was the weird angled hands, so Hornets Agent still can't shoot straight. Taking a quick look at the car mode we can see two more differences, and I'd argue that they're really "fixes." for one, the joint that folds the arms to the inside for car mode is yellow on Hornets Agent instead of Flipper's black. The other big difference is that Hornets Agent's tires actually roll (although they're just plastic). When I reviewed Flipper I said he earned a pass due to his size. Those things would be harder to overlook on a bigger toy, so I'm glad KBB fixed them. Hornets Agent retains Flipper's weapon storage- slide the handle of the gun into a notch between the tires. Figuring out why you might want Flipper was a no-brainer... it's the only Bumblebee that scales with a 3P Legends collection. Plus it's so tiny and cute, even if you aren't working on a Legends collection it's cheap enough to check out as a novelty. The real question is, why would someone want a bigger version? Bigger means it no longer scales with 3P Legends, and it loses a lot of the novelty that came with being so insanely tiny. The simple answer comes down to Flipper's other big strength: the sculpt. He's a little short and lacks the finish to be a real replacement for MP-21 or MP-45, but he's pretty close in size to the Has/Tak Legends-class Bumblebee from Titans Returns. While that wasn't a bad figure, there's no question that Hornets Agent is a bit more G1-accurate. The cartoonish aesthetic isn't a total fit with the other Hasbro Legends. However, it is again a much more accurate Bumblebee (I actually prefer it to MP-21's alt mode), and it's no more out of place than the Mechanic Studio Huffer and Gears I looked at about a month ago. (I wound up picking up the Mechanic Studio Pipes, too.) Flipper was a good figure. Hornets Agent is a good figure that fixed a few of Flipper's issues in the process of getting bigger. If that weren't enough, consider the price. I got my copy on Ebay for $14. A quick search for Titans Return Bumblebee has him around $17 at the retailers still carrying it, and anywhere from $10-$20 (used and new) from reputable ebay sellers. In other words, Hornets Agent isn't just an aesthetic alternative to Titans Returns Bumblebee for a Generations/Siege collection, it's priced comparably. Unless you really prefer the aesthetic of the Titans Return version there's no reason not to consider Hornets Agent instead.
  9. If my review of Apeface wasn't a good indication, the final wave of Siege is really starting to hit. I've got a handful of little guys on my desk waiting to be looked at, Spinister's preorder page on Hasbro Pulse has an estimated ready-to-ship date of yesterday, and this guy, arguably the most-anticipated figure in the wave, landed on my porch today. It's Siege Leader-class Astrotrain. Might as well get this out of the way first... like Shockwave, Astrotrain is really a Voyager-class figure whose Leader-class price is partly going toward his accessories, and mostly likely partly spread out over the rest of the wave so we can have things like Apeface's Titan Master. Still, paying for a Leader-class figure that's actually shorter than his Voyager-class brethren from Titans Returns can be a hard pill to swallow. Size and price concerns aside, I really can't complain about the aesthetics. I don't have the old Classics Deluxe or the Voyager-class Titans Return version, but I do have Sentinel Prime, and as far as I know Astrotrain was simply a different Titan Master on the same body, only with G1 toy colors, and the new Siege version really blows the Titans Return mold out of the water. So, what accessories does a Leader-class price on a Voyager-class toy get us this time? Well, it gets you five guns (technically four and a missile launcher). And you get a box. The box can open and splay out, and there's room inside to store all five guns, as laid about above, and still have room to close the box. Not that Hasbro is content to simply call it a box and leave it. We'll talk about the uses for the box as we go through the modes, but for now note that the sides of the thinner flaps end with the base connection introduced with Titans Returns. Astrotrain's head is on a ball joint, with some upward and limited downward and sideways tilt. His shoulders can rotate and extend laterally a little under 90 degrees. You can kind of cheat a little extra if you disconnect them from the sides of his torso and use the transformation hinge in the purple shoulder kibble. His biceps swivel, and his double-jointed elbows can curl 180 degrees. His wrists don't swivel, but they do tilt up/down due to transformation. His waist can swivel. If you move the hip skirts out of the way his hips can bend 90 degrees forward and backward but only a little bit backward. His thighs can swivel, and his knees can bend just under 90 degrees. When he's properly transformed his feet are locked, so they don't tilt up and down, but they've got around 60 degrees of ankle pivot. As far as ports for mounting all his accessories go, he's got one on the front of each wing, one on the outside of each shoulder, one on the outside of each forearm, on on the outside of each leg near his ankles, three on his backpack, one in the small of his back, and one on the bottom of each foot in addition to his fists. Again, like Shockwave, he does have an "armored" mode. You want to start by pulling the top of the box off; it splits in half and becomes shoes for Astrotrain (which helps a little with the height difference between him, Octane, and Blitzwing). Take the side of the box with the three pegs on the rotating triangular bit and fold it open, twist it 180 degrees, then fold it flat against the bottom. You can then use the three pegs to plug into the three peg holes on the thrusters on his back, and... uh... I guess Super Astrotrain is a guy with half a box on his back. To finish the look off you could start plugging all his guns into 5mm ports on his body, but they're actually designed to combine into a super gun. Astrotrain's shuttle mode is a real heartbreaker. It's got the single vertical stabilizer, bigger wings, and that uncircumsized cockpit look with poorly-disguised train wheels that the G1 toy and and animation model had. Plus, you know, it's cartoon-colored instead of toy-colored like previous Hasbro Astrotrains, so it's definitely the most animation-accurate Astrotrain to date. The problem is that from about the middle of the fuselage to the tail has a super unfinished look, like someone was building a space shuttle but quit before they got all the outer paneling on. And I'll tell you right now, it's a problem caused by the engineering (his arms curl up, then fold up around his head, then his chest basically folds up to hide his head and bring out the vertical stabilizer) that probably could have been solved with a little more engineering (panels in his forearms or legs could have unfolded to cover up the gaps... or, you know, use the box in a way that would have been actually useful). Still, it looks like it would be super easy for someone like Dr Wu or DNA to do an upgrade kits with, what with four different 5mm ports to plug into in that area. That'd be one on either side near the tail and two on the top just behind the finished part of the fuselage. He's also got one in each thruster on the back, on on either side of the cockpit, one on top of each wing, and two on the underside of the fuselage. While you can use those various ports for mounting the guns there's still the matter of the box. Again, I'd have thought some kind of transformation into something that could cover the back half of the fuselage would have been really useful, but nope. (For the record, I actually pulled the lid shoes off to see of there was at least something I could do with those, but they're kind of too thick and the toes stick up to high). Instead, Hasbro offers these other two uses. Begin by opening the box up and rotating the skinny sides up. Then you're supposed to put the shuttle on it, somehow. I can't find a way to lock the shuttle on... heck, the sides of the box we rotated don't lock into place. Plus, despite what the instructions show, my box does NOT lay flat. So I think this "mode" is pretty dumb. Something else you can do is rotate the side with the pegs around and fold it back so that the pegs are pointing up. Then you can plug the shuttle into the pegs via the booster peg holes, and you've got something of a launch pad. Again, I'd have much preferred something that covered the back of the shuttle, but I can't really be made at this. I mean, you've got four peg holes and two pegs showing that you can use to mount the guns, plus the connectors that allow you to connect it with Trypticon, presumably Scorponok, and any Leader-class Titans Return base. We can't forget the "train" in "Astrotrain." The train mode is alright. Again, a huge improvement over the Titans Return mold in that it actually looks like a train locomotive, and an improvement over the Classics because it's a steam locomotive. My initial, contradictory thoughts were "too much purple" (although that's pretty accurate for this mode) and "why is the front black instead of purple?" (which isn't accurate. There's a few other quirks. I'm not a fan of the gray on the roof, but to be fair that's Astrotrain's feet, and I'd rather have som extra gray on the train than purple robot feet. The rear doesn't have the raised roof with the overhang, either. But arguably the worst thing is that the wheels don't line up. Part of that is because of how he transforms, necessitating that the front wheel and guard fit inside his robot legs while half of the rest are on the outside. But I also think that Hasbro made the folding panels with the wheels on his legs and the rotating panels with the wheels on the backs of his wings too thick. They simply stick out too far on the sides, plus if they were thinner they'd stick out less in shuttle and robot modes, too. The folding of panels to get to train mode unfortunately covers many of the 5mm ports we could use in robot and shuttle modes. You've got two on the top, two under the train, and the three in the boosters on the rear, but for guns only the two on the roof are practically useful. Mind you, you really only need one; if you put the guns together into the super gun mode, but turn the gun in the front 180 degrees so the missile launcher is on top instead of under the barrel, the super gun back plug into the rearward 5mm port with enough clearance for everything. Of course, that's not the only way to carry everything. You can turn stuff all the guns into your trusty box, then use the three pegs on the box to connect to the rear of the train. It's kind of like a train car, except small, and with tank treads instead of train wheels... I guess it's best if we don't think too hard about it. I'll be honest, reviewing Astrotrain is tough. On the one hand, we have a great bot mode. On the other it's a little shorter than the Titans Return Decepticon triple changers. On the one hand he's got a ton of accessories. On the other most of us would probably have been happy to give them up if this could have been a Voyager release. On the one hand it's the most G1, cartoon-accurate alt modes Astrotrain's had on an official toy since the original G1. On the other hand they're still not perfect, with the shuttle mode especially suffering. Ultimately I am going to give him a recommend, if a somewhat reserved one. I mean, if this were an MP I'd trash it, but I just don't hold Generations to the same standard. So I see his flaws, I've noted his flaws, but I'm still having fun with it. I still think this is the best CHUG-style Astrotrain available, especially in robot mode. If you, too, can get past his flaws then by all means pick him up, because who knows when we'll get another Voyager-sized Astrotrain.
  10. Took my wife and four year old to see it. She's funny, because she's really timid- she was nervous about going to the theater (I tried taking her to see Bumblebee last year and she got scared so we had to leave), but she's obsessed with Frozen. She had to sit on my lap for the whole movie, there were several points where she hid her face in my chest, and even a few where she told me she wanted to leave. I just told her to trust me, that everything would be ok by the end. When the movie was over she told me she wasn't scared at all and that it was the best movie ever (although she later clarified that, while better than the first, it's actually tied with Olaf's Frozen Adventure). My two cents? I liked the story better than the first one. It felt like they were having a real adventure and we weren't just watching a girl trying to save her sister from a nervous breakdown. Not sure if I'm totally satisfied with the ending, though, and I do prefer the soundtrack to the first film. Oh, and I'm not super keen on the whole
  11. Alright, let's wrap up my look at GX-88 with the accessories. With all the accessories this comes with, a good place to start would be with the stand. It's similar to the one that comes with GX-71; it's light blue, some assembly required, and there's a spot on the front for a logo. A Dairugger XV logo is pre-installed, but just like GX-71 it does come with an alternate Voltron one. In fact, the logo is the same, but this time it's just a gold outline and black letters instead of solid gold letters. As with GX-71, there's no place on the stand to store the extra nameplate on the stand, so it'll have to go back int the box with the instructions. The stand itself is also a bit less complicated with none of the drawers that came with GX-71. Oh, and speaking of GX-71, I get that the stand was supposed to be evocative of the Castle of Lions. I don't know if this stand is mean to evoke the S.S. Explorer (Rugger Guard), but if it is I'm not feeling it. Since we've already formed Voltron, right away we can put the three antenna from the Multi-Wheeled Explorers into their spots. Before we put anything else on, let's quickly flip it over and look at the underside. You'll find eight pegs there. I mentioned yesterday that the hands on the Carriers do have fingers that can open, and they can hold at least some of the accessories. However, you can pull them off and replace them with one of the eight included replacement hands. There are four left and four right hands, all of them molded in a more humanoid, anime style. There's a pair of closed fists, a pair of fists for holding things, a pair of mostly open hands, and a pair of hands that are partially closed with a gap between the middle and ring fingers. Any hands you're not using, including the default Carrier noses, can be stored under the stand. I can't say that I really recall it, but the un-aerodynamic chunk on the bottom of the Command Jet Explorer that winds up on the back of Voltron's head is, apparently, a weapon. As such, it can be removed from Voltron's head, and a cap is included to stick on the back of Voltron's head when the weapon is removed. But, the part you removed from Voltron's head isn't actually designed to be held as a weapon. Instead, you get a second version, flatter without the connecting bits that go into Voltron's head, with a tab on one side and a hole to insert the translucent effect part. This "Electromagnetic Whip" can be plugged into either of the mostly-open hands, which have slots for the tab. And if you're not using them, the whip handle and the cap for the back of Voltron's head sit on the base, behind the antenna. And yes, if you take the actual bottom of the Command Jet Explorer off and want to put the cap on, the back of Voltron's head can sit where the cap does. Note that while there are cutouts for them to sit in without sliding around they don't lock in place and will fall off if you tip the stand. The effect part of the whip fits into a cradle on the back of the the stand. Under the whip is another cradle, this time for what the manual calls the Shot Arrow. It's another weapon I don't really remember, but Voltron can hold it with the default or holding-stuff fists. The white cord between the handle and the tip has a wire so you can kind of pose it, although the tip weighs the wire down. These are weapons I actually do remember. The manual refers to them as "Lance (Long)" and "Lance (Short)", but I remember them being called Solar Spears. One end of each spear is removable to help you work them into Voltron's mostly-closed holding-stuff fists, and even then it feels like it takes a little finagling. I'll be honest, I didn't check if the default hands can hold them or not, but I'm guessing most of us won't be posing Voltron with them anyway. I briefly mentioned that the Helicopters came with smaller rotors installed, but you could put bigger ones on them. All told, this set comes with two small, three-bladed rotors, two large three-bladed rotors, two large two-bladed rotors (which the manual labels as "Kilders) in chrome, then a pair of three-bladed and a pair of two-bladed rotors done in blue with some energy effects (listed as "Spin Cutters"). This is where those half-closed hands with the gaps come in. Whether you're using the chrome or blue, two-bladed or three, you fit them so one blade runs through the gap and the peg hole in the center fits over a peg on the palm (the same hole fits over a peg on the helicopters, btw). There's also a bag with four translucent blue parts that have a peg on one end and a hole on the other. These are adapters for posing the Spin Cutters in flight on a Tamashii Nation Stage Act 4 stand. There's no storage on the stand for the adapters. The spears fit into cradles on the opposite side of the rear pylons as the Shot Arrow and Electromagnetic Whip blade. The smaller spear goes under the longer one. The front pylons have two small pegs on each side. This is just enough storage for eight rotors. If you're doing the math, that means if you want a cartoon-style clean, rotorless Voltron you're short two pegs and can't store them all. Personally, I put all the big ones on there, and leave the little rotors on Voltron. If I take Voltron apart I'll swap out the small rotors for the large three-bladed ones. All of this talk about rotors and pegs reminds me, some of the rotors seem to peg on more snuggly than others. None are so loose that they'll fall off just by turning them upside down, but some are loose enough that if you turn them upside down and shake them gently they will. Last but not least, what Voltron doesn't have a Blazing Sword? The sword is entirely covered in chrome, mostly silver with a gold cross on either side. It sits on top of the rear pylons when it's not in use. Voltron can hold it with the holding-stuff hands or the default ones, but it doesn't have any tabs or slots that lock it in place like GX-71 does, so his grip on it is a little looser than I'd like. It's also, due to the shape of the space in both the default and holding-stuff hands, is always at an angle from his forearm. This helps facilitate some poses, like the one on the box where he's holding the sword with two hands in front of him, but it's difficult to pose him actually cutting forward. And now we come to my final thoughts. With all the wheels, hatches, and other transforming bits I can imagine that the parts count for GX-88 would be greater than GX-71. But the truth is that GX-71 is heavier. GX-71 has slightly fewer accessories (it'd have more, if it weren't for the hands), but the accessories that it does have are more elaborate. GX-88 splits into fifteen vehicles instead of five, but they don't really do much on their own, while the lions have numerous joints and parts just for lion mode that made them fun, articulated toys are their own. But, at least at at retail, GX-88 is $40 more than GX-71. $40 might not be a lot when we're already talking $300+, but the thing is GX-88 doesn't feel like a toy that should cost more than GX-71. So while I felt comfortable saying that GX-71 was absolutely worth the asking price, I almost feel like I need to qualify GX-88's price tag. Ultimately I'll say this: GX-88 is a very good figure that lives up the reputation Bandai's built with their Soul of Chogokin line. It's got paint, diecast, and a ton of accessories. It's got great articulation and plenty of details from both the cartoon and the old Popy toy. It looks fantastic with GX-71. If you have any nostalgia for Vehicle Voltron (or Dairugger XV) then chances are good that you'll love this figure, even if it is more than GX-71. However, if Lion Voltron is your jam and you can barely remember Vehicle Voltron you're probably going to find GX-71 to be more the more enjoyable release.
  12. MP-49 is confirmed to be a repaint of MP-44, sans the trailer and probably most of the accessories, with an MSRP of ¥28,000 (around $250). That's... better than MP-44, but if I were in the market for a Black Convoy/Nemesis Prime (I'm not) I'd still probably stick with the third parties.
  13. Alright, it's time to form Voltron! Form feet and legs! ...which we start doing by opening the hatches and folding the noses up on the Multi-Wheeled Explorers, just like we did to make the Aqua Fighter. Except this time, you want to remove the diecast antenna and push the red and yellow parts they plug into down into the main body of the vehicles. Then, on the back of the MWEs, you'll find that you can open them up by pulling the treads and part of the rear hatch away. The top of the rear hatch folds down inside, then you flip out the gray joint. That gray joint will slide into the gap on the back of an All-Terrain Space Vehicle. Once it's in place, push the tires on the Space Vehicles in and then up. This will make a little square rise up and lock the ankle in place. The Space Probers connect to the MWEs the same as before, by flipping out the diecast connector and plugging it into the port you revealed when you folded in the MWE noses. The only real difference is that the noses of the Space Probers collapse for thigh mode. The Jet Radar Station does some of the most transforming. The white hatches without the slots fold down and slide inside. The roof folds open, and inside are some diecast hip joints that you need to fold out before you close the roof back up. On the other side of the Jet Radar Station the black hatch folds up and slides inside. The diecast joints you eposed plug into the holes on the noses of the Space Probers. The antenna on the Communications Module folds up, then collapses into the roof. Meanwhile, fold in the missiles and close the red arc on the Strato Weapons Module. On the white panel on the side that doesn't have the indents for the Command Jet Explorer, fold up the white panel and slide it in to reveal a squarish hollow space. Go back to the Communications Module, and find the cube-shaped engine that can swivel. That one plugs down into the pelvis. The other one plugs into the hollow we created on the Strato Weapons Module, finishing the torso. To make the arms, first make sure the landing gear is folded up, then push out the sides of the Air Recon Helicopters like you did for Strato Fighter Mode. Then get the Rotating Personnel Carrier and Armored Equipment Carrier and fold their wheels against their undersides. The instructions tell you to turn the noses, too, but that's optional. Now, slide the tails of the helicopters into the backs of the carriers, being careful to line up the fins on the helicopters with the grooves. Then plug the extended sides of the helicopters into the shoulder sockets. Dock the Command Jet Explorer exactly as you did for the Strato Fighter, with the engine booster thing on the back sinking into the white space on the side of the Strato Weapons Module. Remember that the red button, now in the center of the chest, is for the locking mechanism Clip the Falcon Fighter jet onto the chest almost the same way you did for Strato Fighter mode, using the clips on the underside to grab onto the white around the center of the chest, but upside down from the way it sat on the Strato Fighter. The Falcon Fighter Jet's wings can fold down to lay flatter against the chest. Lastly, using the two nubs, open the panels on the top of the Command Jet Explorer to reveal Voltron's face. And there we have it, folks... Soul of Chogokin GX-88, aka Voltron I, aka Voltron of the Near Universe, aka Vehicle Voltron, aka Dairugger XV, in all its glory. If you already have the Soul of Chogokin Lion Voltron you probably know what you're getting here: they're roughly the same height, and like GX-71 GX-88 is covered in paint (I'm especially loving the metallic blue), some tasteful use of chrome, and plenty of diecast. GX-88 definitely has some heft to him, but I'm surprised to say that it's noticeably lighter than GX-71 (282 grams lighter, or about 20% lighter). Don't get me wrong, GX-88 is still very hefty (weighing more than even similarly-sized figures from Fans Toys, a company notorious for packing diecast into their figures). Just surprising. GX-88 has, on paper, some pretty good articulation. Unfortunately, despite the weight reduction from GX-71, not all of his joints are quite strong enough. His head is on a hinged swivel, and the joint extends a bit to give his up/down tilt a little extra clearance, but the tilt is always towards or away from the center of his chest, so as you turn his up/down tilt starts to turn into a sideways tilt. His shoulders rotate on a soft ratchet, and a hinge inside the helicopter lets him extend his arms sideways almost 90 degrees. Plus, joints in sockets on the Strato Weapons Module gives him a good forward butterfly joint. His biceps can swivel, and his ratcheted elbows can bend somewhat under 90 degrees despite being on a double-joint. The "fingers" on the default hands can open and close, and the wrists can swivel. Plus, like the neck, the wrist joints can extend to give him some wrist waggle (but don't push too far or the hand will come off). He's got a soft-ratcheted waist swivel, but the other side of the Communications Module is hinged to allow him to crunch his abs or arch his back. The roof flaps we opened on the Jet Radar Station are actually hip skirts, and if you open all of his hip skirts he can move his hips forward 90 degrees on a fairly strong ratchet, almost 90 degrees laterally on a too-weak ratchet, but nothing really backward. His thighs swivel where the Space Propers connect to the diecast joints. His ratcheted knees can bend 90 degrees, but again the ratchet isn't really strong enough to support the weight of the vehicles below it. At first it might look like his foot articulation is a little limited, but once again the joint can actually extend. When it's fully extended GX-88 enjoys some up/down foot tilt and a solid 45 degrees of ankle pivot. I just wish the hips were a little tighter, because one a lot of surfaces I've found that he wants to start doing the splits in more extreme poses. Now those of you that read my Transformers reviews know that I usually talk about accessories with the articulation. You may have also noticed that, aside from the rotors on the helicopters and the antenna for the Multi-Wheeled Explorers, I've left the accessories out of these pictures. That's because GX-88 has enough accessories that we're going to save the accessories and final thoughts for tomorrow.
  14. Happy Turkey Day, my American peeps (and happy just another Thursday if you live in some other fine country). What say we give thanks to Bandai for producing GX-88 with a quick look at the Land Team? We open with the Jet Radar Station (Rugger 11), and... ok, that hatch we flip open on the top does have a dish and a tiny fold-out antenna. And there are treads on the bottom (which don't seem to roll), so we can presume that it is in fact some kind of vehicle with a radar. That said, the Jet Radar Station is competing with the Strato Weapons Module for the title of "looks the least like an actual vehicle." The blue Rotating Personnel Carrier (Rugger 12) and the red Armored Equipment Carrier (Rugger 12) are a case of almost, but not quite. They have little rubber tires, and with the cockpits on top and the sort of sleek front ends they look pretty cool... at first glance. But then you start to notice things, like the gaping hole in the back that I wish could have been covered with one of the folding flaps you'd find on the Strato Weapons Module or the Jet Radar Station. They don't even have painted tail lights like the Multi-Wheeled Explorers. While they try not to look too much like robot hands, down to having headlights painted onto some knuckles, they're still ultimately robot hands with a large gap running through the middle. While this could be construed as critique less of GX-88 and more of the original design, after digging through some old screenshots and artwork these vehicles were animated with even more of a wedge-shaped front end and no gap. Given Bandai's penchant for swappable parts on these SOC releases it's kind of a shame that they didn't include noses for these guys that matched the cartoon and weren't hands at all. As a kid, my favorite vehicles after the Falcon Fighter Jet were probably these guys, the All-Terrain Space Vehicle and All-Terrain Space Vehicle 2 (Rugger 14 and Rugger 15), and for pretty much the same reason- they're very recognizable as vehicles first and not treads on obvious robot parts. With their large windshields, the molded doors, chrome grills with headlights, painted tail lights, and four rubber tires they look a lot like something you might have seen someone pitch as a passenger vehicle in the '80s. I'm not sure that their bumpers were animated quite so prominently, but that seems to be a design element taken from one of the '80s toys. Of course, if they were like regular cars/SUVs, that'd make the scaling issues with seagoing ships, giant transports, and submarines even worse. Combining these five is pretty simple. Flip up the little gray panels on the tops of the All-Terrain Space Vehicles to reveal some c-clips. There are spots that they can grab on the bottom of the Jet Radar Station. Just be careful to make sure that the Jet Radar Station is oriented so that the white panels with the slots on them are facing forward. If you look at the picture showing the back of the Rotating Personnel Carrier you might have noticed a tab sticking out from under the gaping hole on the back. The Armored Equipment Carrier has one, too. You might have surmised already that the tabs fit into the slots on the Jet Radar Station to complete the Turbo Terrain Fighter (Rickrugger). This is my least favorite of the "super" vehicles. I mean, with the Strato Fighter I can imagine scenarios where you'd carry your aircraft via a large land vehicle, and the Aqua Fighter looks like a submersible vehicle. But the Turbo Terrain Fighter looks like cars stacked on cars. Does it drive fast and "punch" things with the robot fists dangling from the front? Why do they need to stack the cars to drive them when all fifteen of these things are shown to fly through space? I guess it doesn't really matter. The point is that it's fun to push the All-Terrain Space Vehicles around on their rolling rubber tires while making engine noises. And that will tide me over until tomorrow, when we form Voltron.
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