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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. Well, while I figure out what to do with Siege Barricade, he and Mirage have one other wave mate: Deluxe-class Impactor. Impactor joints Universe Darkmount (Straxus), Generations Jhiaxus, and I suppose Combiner Wars Scrounge as toys based on Marvel G1 characters. Can I get an Emirate Xaaron next, please? While technically not the first Classics/Universe/Generations figure Impactor received, it's the first time he's got a proper figure instead of just slapping a new head on a "close enough" figure like Fall of Cybertron Onslaught or Combiner Wars Rook. He's got his basics from the Marvel comics, with his red eyes, generic crested head, flat chest with recessed yellow squares, and shoulder cannon with a barrel shaped like Shockwave's head. There are some touches, though in the yellow/orange biceps and extra molded details that do evoke his IDW appearance. I do wish his generic head had more of the IDW-style Spartan helmet. Hasbro is releasing a version with that head and a little extra paint, but only if you're willing to shell out for a translucent blue Mirage (meh) and a repaint of Cog as a Powerdasher (and, ugh, that's the worst one... if they'd put the black and yellow drill tank repaint of Brunt in there instead I'd have bought that pack instead of complaining about it). Impactor's a big Deluxe, towering over Barricade and coming in only half a head shorter or so than Voyager Springer. Impactor comes with two accessories. The first is a rifle. The other is something like kind of looks like a serrated pistol. Unlike Mirage or Hound, Impactor's shoulder cannon is fully attached to his body. Impactor's head is on a mushroom swivel, so he can rotate it but he can't tilt at all. His shoulders can rotate and extend laterally beyond 90 degrees. His shoulder cannon has a hinge so it'll move out of his shouder's way. His biceps swivel, and his elbows bend 90 degrees. Due to his transformation he doesn't have a swivel at the waist, but in keeping with the Siege mandate for waist swivels as closely as he can he does have a swivel in his torso, where the purple chest his the yellow abdomen. Then, also do to transformation, if you unlock his midsection he has an ab crunch. His hips can go forward or backward about 90 degrees, and laterally 90 degrees on a ratchet (or some kind of geared hinge). His thighs swivel just above his knees, and those knees can bend 90 degrees. His toes can tilt down, and his ankles can pivot around 30 degrees. While Impactor can hold both of his accessories in his fists, folding his fists in will reveal a 5mm peg at the wrist. You can plug the "pistol" into the peg to give Impactor his signature harpoon. Impactor also has 5mm pegs on the outside of either shoulder, on top of his shoulder cannon, one on the outside of either forearm, three on his back, one on the outside of each lower leg, and one on the bottom of each foot. Plus, he's got one on either side of his rifle, plus a peg on either side of his rifle and on the front of both forearms near his wrist. Impactor's transformation is one of the more enjoyable ones. His chest lifts up so the arms have space to tuck in, forming the turret. And while his lower legs form the front of the tank, the sides of his legs swing around with his feet to cover and enclose his thighs and pelvis and make the rear half of the tank. His shoulder gun flips over to stay on top of the turret, and his rifle becomes the tanks main gun. There are two small molded guns on either side of the tank, and some gnarly-looking hooks on the front. I'm not sure exactly how they came up with this design; I don't recall him having an alt-mode in the Marvel comics, and while he did turn into a tank (and later and SUV) in IDW it didn't exactly look like this one. That said, I think it works really well. His rifle his held in place by pushing the pegs on his forearms into the peg holes on the back of the rifle. This allows the tanks main gun to swivel up and down, and that mid-torso swivel allows the turret to rotate. The only issue here is that rotating the turret does expose his thighs. With his rifle forming an integral part of the alt mode you're just left looking for a place to put the harpoon. He's got plenty of options, though. Again, there's a peg hole on top of the shoulder cannon on his turret, three on the back of the turret, two on the front of the turret on either side of the main gun, and one on either side of the tank, just behind the molded guns. It's easy to say that Impactor does have some flaws. There's the aforementioned thighs peaking out when you rotate the tank turret. Deeper ankle tilts and the ability to look up and down would have been nice. You may also notice that his lower legs are extremely hollow, for no purpose than Hasbro's desire to save plastic. Yet, despite his flaws, he's an extremely fun figure to transform and mess with, and a great representation of a minor Marvel character who gained a lot of newfound popularity due to his appearances in IDW. This is one of the few molds I've picked up where I'm actually curious to see what they might remold him into, because I'm really enjoying this one. I definitely recommend picking Impactor up.
  2. It's a rivet at the elbow. EDIT: In other news, while we know what's coming in the next wave of Studio Series figures (set to hit very late this year or early next year), we have some rumors for the wave after that. Leader-class Overload, which is kind of a no-brainer since he and Voyager-class Scrapper are all that's left after Mixmaster and Scavenger hit in the next wave. But the rumor also includes three Deluxes: Roadbuster from Dark of the Moon, Shatter with her Harrier mode, and jeep Bumblebee. And that last one seems likely to me. After all, by the official US numbers Bumblebee has appeared in the Studio Series nine times (01, 15, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, and 49) making him alone nearly 20% of the first 50 Studio Series figures some version of Bumblebee. So not only am I expecting Jeep Bee, I'm sure we'll get '60's Camaro Bee and Age of Extinction Bee before the line is over.
  3. Quick question, you guys. As I mentioned in my review, Siege Barricade is based on Guido Guidi's art of a G1 Barricade as a repaint of Prowl/Smokescreen from way back in 2012. Promotional art depicted the Siege figure following this color scheme pretty much to the letter (left), but when the figure was released he was missing some black on his waist and forearms (right). I want to correct this. I already painted his "belt." I also grabbed a second Prowl to replace his purple translucent light bar with a clear one. I painted the second Prowl's gun gold and gave it to Barricade. I also painted the barrels of the ones that came with Barricade. I think doing his arms might be a little trickier, though. For one, I think I'm a lot more likely to handle the painted spots. Two, the black I have is noticeably glossier than the plastic (although I have a totally matte black I could try). Three, I can pop his arms off, and I can pop the hands off the arms, but I can't separate the biceps from the forearms. An alternative to painting would be to take the arms from the second Prowl and swap them, but that'd give Barricade black biceps. Out of curiosity, what do you think would work/look better? Using all-black arms, using all-purple arms, or trying to mask the purple biceps and painting the forearms black?
  4. I really wanted to. But I'd just picked up the SoC Golion reissue, a few 3P figures, the Siege Omega Supreme, and I've got the SoC Dairugger next month. There was no way I could work another $600 in there and stay married.
  5. We are talking about a franchise that gave us Bumblebee peeing on a human, Devastator's balls, a mom high on pot brownies, Wheelie humping Mikaela's leg, Jetfire farting a parachute, the racist twins, "Transformium," and an adult man citing law to explain to a father why it's not illegal for him to be messing with said father's teenage daughter. It's not like they were making a ton of smart moves before doing the triple changer thing. Since I'm suddenly reminded why I'm not a fan of the Bayverse (despite buying up Studio Series toys like candy), this might be a good time to shift gears back to the infinitely better War for Cybertron Trilogy with a look at Deluxe-class Siege Mirage. Like everyone else, I'm a big fan of the Classics Mirage mold. Not as much the Combiner Wars version. As much as I adore Classics Mirage, I have to say that the Siege version is by far the most G1-ish Mirage we've got that didn't come from an unlicensed third party. If I were nitpicking I might point out that Mirage's forearms and biceps might properly be white, or that he didn't have writing on his shins in the cartoon, but aside from that the colors are perfect. They've kept details like the flaps on his shoulders, the gray squares on his knees, and even the panel on his crotch. He's also the only official Mirage in forever that has his shoulder-mounted missile launcher. And, happily, there's no sign of the usual mess of Siege dirt painted on him. As with the other Autobot cars my first impression of Siege Mirage was that he's a little small. However, put next to the other Classics/Universe/Generations Mirage toys he's really not that much shorter, standing roughly eye-to-nose with both the Classics and Combiner Wars toys. When it comes to accessories, Mirage comes with the aforementioned missile launcher. The missile itself is a separate piece that plugs into the barrel via a 5mm peg, which technically means you can plug other weapons with 5mm pegs into the barrel. The missile itself has a 5mm peg instead of one fin, allowing him to hold it like a pistol. Mirage also comes with a very G1-inspired rifle. Mirage's head is on a ball joint that lets him look up and down a little, rotate his head, but he can't seem manage a sideways tilt. His shoulders rotate and can move laterally 90 degrees. The flaps on his shoulders are hinged and can move with or independently of the shoulders. His biceps swivel, and his elbows bend 90 degrees. No wrist swivel. His waist swivels, which puts him ahead of that last batch of Studio Series figures I reviewed. His hips are universal joints that can move forward or backward 90 degrees and slightly better than that laterally. His thighs swivel around the hips, and his knees bend 90 degrees. His feet can tilt up and down a little, plus he's got up to 90 degrees of ankle pivot. Mirage has a 5mm port on either side of his head, one on each shoulder flap, one on the back of each forearm, one in the center of his back, one on the outside of each knee, one on the inside of each knee, and one under each foot. Mirage's transformation into a Cybertronian approximation of an F1 car is really not what you'd expect. His chest is basically a fake F1 nose, and it actually becomes the rear of the car. His forearms make a sort of engine block behind the cockpit, and the flaps on his arms become his rear spoiler instead of the sides of the car. The sides of the car are his shins, and the outsides of his lower leg form the translucent cockpit. The actual nose, wheels, and front spoiler are normally folded up and stuffed into Mirage's calves. And if I had to guess why they did it this way, I'd point out how long Classics and Combiner Wars Mirage ended up being in alt mode, and venture that they were trying to keep Siege Mirage nice and compact so he wouldn't dwarf guys like Prowl and Sideswipe. Of course, the downside is that, Cybertronian or not, it doesn't make for the best alt mode. I mean, the first two thirds of the vehicle are fine, but then his forearms look like a massively oversized air scoop. meanwhile, his shoulders fill the space under the rear spoiler, which isn't just really un-aerodynamic, it would prevent air from flowing under the spoiler and render it totally useless. Then you've got that chunk of almost-a-nose sticking out the back, which makes the rear spoiler look really oddly positioned. I think this might actually be my least-favorite Siege alt mode. I can forgive a lazy brick being passed off as a "spaceship" because I can imagine spaceships that look like bricks. I can forgive them winging an alt mode for Sixgun, and while I don't particularly enjoy it Cog's alt mode is G1-accurate. But Mirage's was so close to being good only to blow it at the finish line. Mirage retains a pair of 5mm peg holes on his rear spoiler, which is just enough for you to mount is included accessories. None of the other numerous peg holes from the robot mode are available in alt mode. My rant about Mirage's alt mode might make it seem like I'm not a fan of this figure, but it's actually the opposite. I actually like it and even recommend it. The robot mode is dang near perfect, and I'm quite pleased at the G1-ness of his accessories. I'm just a little frustrated with it because his alt mode drags him down to a middle-of-the-pack sort of a figure, when it was 1/3rd of an alt mode away from being one of the very best in the Siege line.
  6. The Captain disagrees. Don't get me wrong, Evila Star has some nice realistic touches on the alt modes, but Fancy Cell's Transportation Captain nails the cartoon look for me. While I plan on getting Siege Astrotrain I'll probably move this guy to my WFC Trilogy space if Fans Toys' Thomas isn't terrible.
  7. I'm definitely planning on getting it, but I've been checking my local store and the one out by my parents' place since late September. No luck. I don't even think it's out yet.
  8. OK, I know I said one more, but I got some packages today. This really should wrap up my current crop of Studio Series reviews, though, because aside from repaints with minimal or no remolding (a couple Bees, Starscream, Megatron, Shadow Raider, KSI Sentry, KSI Boss, Crankcase, and Ratchet, I think) this should be everyone released so far. So without further adieu, I give you Studio Series Deluxe-class Drift... and Studio Series Deluxe-class Drift. The one on the left, SS-36, is Drift from The Last Knight and is really a repaint of from that film's toy line with a new head and a few new accessories. I think it was meant to be some kind of exclusive and carried a price tag higher than a normal Deluxe; I got mine on Ebay. The other one SS-45, is Drift from Age of Extinction and is mostly a new mold that should be available at regular retail. The original TLK Drift toy was mostly red, as it was based on concept art that depicted Drift in mostly red colors. At some point the decision was made to make Drift mostly black with red highlights. So, aesthetically, the biggest changes are the aforementioned new, more screen-accurate head sculpt and a more screen-accurate black-with-red-highlights deco. 36 still has the same kibble on his lower legs and shoulders, and pretty much the entire top and rear of the car is folded up onto his back. I'm honestly not too mad at that, though... those car roof backpacks are pretty par for the course on SS Deluxes, and I honestly think it's clever how they folded the sides up to make samurai armor on his shoulders, even if it's way bigger than in the film. What I am mad at is that they didn't go far enough with the red highlights, missing some on his arms, head, and knees. And, somewhat oddly, almost all of the silver paint they did put on his shins should actually be red or black with red highlights. If you ignore the kibble on his forearms, I think 45 has better proportions and greater screen accuracy from the knees up than 36 does, if you overlook one tiny detail... Drift wasn't black with blue highlights in AoE, he was dark blue with lighter blue highlights. He's also missing the kanji on his left thigh armor. Below the knees, they did give him those round vents, but he's missing the wheels in his knees, and most of his lower leg is folded up kibble that doesn't really match what you see on screen. 36 comes with two silvery-gray swords and two daggers, which is what the original TLK came with. Then, he additionally comes with a larger gunmetal sword with gold highlights, and a trio of baby dinobots. I don't have much to say about the dinobots... their names (according to the instructions) are Sharp T, Pterry, and 'Tops. Sharp T's hips can swivel and his jaw can open. Pterry's jaw opens, his hips swivel, and his shoulders swivel. 'Top's neck swivels, his shoulders swivel, and his hips swivel. But mostly they just sit around and remind you of the worst film in the franchise, so off they go. Drift's new sword is curious, because it's got a tab on it. But it's not mentioned in the instructions, and I can't find any use for it. 45 comes with a pair of swords, some missile/rocket launchers, and a big ol' partsforming tail rotor. 36's head is on a ball joint and he can look up a good bit but not down, and he can tilt his head a little in addition to rotating it. His shoulders rotate and move laterally 90 degrees. He's got bicep swivels just above his elbows, which bend 90 degrees. He doesn't have wrist swivels, but his wrists do bend inward, and that doesn't seem to be a transformation joint. No waist articulation. His hips can go forward and laterally about 90 degrees on universal joints, and backwards about 45 degrees before his backpack gets in the way. His thighs swivel and his knees bend 90 degrees. His feet can tilt up due to transformation, but no down, and he doesn't have ankle pivots. This may be an individual results may vary sort of thing, but the joints on mine are a little looser than I'd like. Especially the forward/backward motion on his hips. It looks like there's a screw that needs to be tightened, but his backpack is in the way and I can't get a screwdriver in there. And of course, unlike how many other figures where they've cheaped out and used friction to keep the hinges together Drift's are actually pinned. Although the daggers have 5mm pegs for handles and Drift can hold them, I think they're more properly stored by using other pegs to fit into his back, with the blade peaking up over his shoulders, as that was part of his movie look. Then, as the toy was originally designed, you'd have him holding the larger swords. But, 36 has that swanky new sword, and maybe you want him holding that instead. Well, there are pegs on the larger swords, too, and they fit into holes in the bottom of his backpack, inside the rear of the car. And if you want him to store all five swords? Well, then you're out of luck, because I've looked and looked and can't find a slot for the tab on that sword. 45's head is also on a ball joint, with slightly less upward range and nothing down or to the sides. His shoulders rotate and extend just under 90 degrees. His biceps swivel, and his elbows bend 90 degrees. Nothing in the wrists or waist. His hips can go forward 90 degrees, backwards a little less than 90, and laterally just under 90 on ball joints. His thighs swivel just above the knee, and his knees can bend 90 degrees, but the actual hinge is on the back of his leg so any knee bend looks odd. He's got no foot articulation. 45's back daggers are just for decoration, but he holds his swords just fine. The missiles can plug into the outside of his thighs, not that that's screen accurate. And the tail rotor can clip into either forearm to be kind of a shield that he never once had in the movie (that I can recall; I think my brain is trying very hard to purge those last two Bayverse films from memory). 45 does have storage for all his weapons, if you don't like having him hold stuff/own a shield. The rotor can clip into his back, which is where I usually keep it. As for the swords, they have weird little bumps. Those bumps fit into slots on his thighs so he can wear his swords on his hips. 36 turns into a Mercedes-AMG GT R, and 90% of the transformation is honestly unfurling his backpack and shoulder flaps. 45... well, he doesn't turn into a Bugatti Veyron. Instead, he turns into the helicopter mode he had for one scene in AoE and was never mentioned again. You might have guessed from the kibble on his arms, the wings folded up on his legs, and those two blue squares on his knees that 45 is actually based on Studio Series Dropkick (the helicopter one), just with almost entirely new parts. Despite sharing the same basic engineering Drift's transformation seems a bit smoother. 36 has a good sculpt with lots of molded details you'd see on the actual car... it's just a shame the paint job is so poor. The black painted parts don't quite match the black plastic parts. The red stripe along the bottom of the car just stops at hinge. Other red details, like around the scoop under the grill, on the mirrors, on the spoiler, and in front of the doors are left unpainted. The grill is a big swath of silver instead of silver grates over black. And the tail, most notably the taillights, is devoid of paint. By design, all the accessories Drift originally came with can be stored in alt mode. For the little swords, you have to unplug them, spin them around, then plug them back in before transforming him and they'll fit comfortably inside. His bigger swords plug into his the soles of his feet and chill underneath the car (where you can see how very little transforming he actually does... would it have killed them to have at least designed his chest to flip up and hide his head?). Again, though, there doesn't seem to be any way to store the new sword. While there's some indication that early designs for Drift's copter mode were based on the Sikorsky S-97 Raider, as near as I can tell the helicopter in the actual movie was pure CGI fiction. That said, 45 does seem to be pretty screen accurate. The shape of the guard around the rear-facing rear rotor is right, the shape of the landing skids is right, the angular cockpit is right, the little bits of samurai armor embedded in the sides is right, the little chin gun is right, and the angular cockpit is right. The main rotor looks really weird, with two long blades and two short ones, but I guess that's what happens when you use screen-accurate back daggers for two of them and his swords for the other two. And for all I know it's accurate; I don't think we actually got a good look at his rotor in the film. The missiles you plugged into his legs have to come off for transformation, then you can plug them back in under the little wings. And you know what? That's accurate too. SS-36 is a decent representation of Drift from The Last Knight with a pretty cool alt mode, and if you're building a TLK-specific display then he's fine. However, his lazy transformation, lack of alt mode paint, and higher-than-normal price due to extra accessories you're probably better off passing unless you really need your Drift to be TLK and not AoE. I didn't have high hopes for SS-45, since I'm not the biggest fan of Bayverse Drift or his helicopter mode, and I didn't care for the look of his rotor on his arm (which is how pretty much every promo picture of him is set up). I really expected to dislike him when I realized he's based on Dropkick. In hand, though, I found that I'm more pleased with his robot mode than I am with 36's, even if it could be a little bluer, and transforming him is fun because you get to enjoy the clever bits of Dropkick's engineering but in a package that flows more smoothly with less parts getting in your way. If you need one Drift for your movie collection and aren't particular about whether it's AoE or TLK, then SS-45 is the one to get.
  9. Not to distract from the discussion about MP-45, but I've got one more Studio Series review for the moment. This time it's Deluxe-class Dropkick. No, not that one. The other one. Before sitting down to write this I was looking at concept art and stills from the movie. I was caught off guard by how many helicopter parts were on Dropkick's CGI model. Really, the older version (right) wouldn't actually be so far off if it just had a few more car parts. But then I was wondering why they'd made this version without even attempting the make some molded detail that looked like his copter cockpit belly, did some more digging, and realized that they only got their final CGI models after approaching the military. For a time immediately after landing on Earth Shatter and Dropkick had different models for when they just had the car modes (hence why I walked back some of my aesthetic criticism of Shatter). Clearly, this newer Dropkick toy is based on this particular CGI model, much the way Shatter's figure is. And it's alright. His hood chest sticks out a bit too far, and the gap between the halves is a bit too large. The toy does have those molded ovals between the halves, as well as a lot of the molded detail on his abs. It just kind of blends in because it's black. He's got tires on the outsides of his elbows instead of for elbows, but the other tires are correctly in his shoulders. He's got his door wings, though the "13" on the tome should be near the ends instead of close to the root. Those indents on his thighs are present, and he's got the taillights on his shins. I think it's probably good enough for a Deluxe-class, it just needs more paint. Speaking of, there's his lone accessory. It's the gun he used to turn a few humans into puddles. The sculpt seems fine, but like his body it could have used some paint. Dropkick's head seems to be on a ball joint, and he can look up and down a bit, but he can't really tilt his head sideways. His shoulders can rotate and extend laterally about 60 degrees. His biceps swivel, and his elbows bend about 90 degrees. No wrist swivels, no waist swivels. His hips are ball joints that can go forward and backward 90 degrees and laterally about 60 degrees. His thighs can swivel. His knees bend 90 degrees. He doesn't have ankle pivots, but his feet can tilt up and down. All-in-all not the best, but kind of par for Studio Series and significantly better than Shatter. As a bonus, his joints are pretty tight, and nothing falls off on my copy. Dropkick doesn't hold his gun. Instead, you fold in his hand to reveal a little tab. That tab fits into a notch on the back of the gun, with some of the gun covering his wrist. Dropkick's transformation is a little more interesting than Shatter's. His torso moves and stretches, and while you might figure that the wheels in his shoulders become the front tires his forearms unfurl to stick his elbow wheels at the back of the car. And unlike Shatter things don't feel cramped, nothing feels like it's getting in the way of anything else, and nothing is popping off. Dropkick's alt mode (this time) is a '71 AMC Javelin. Like a lot of Deluxe-class cars, sure, it could use more paint, mostly to pick out some details in the grill and the marker lights. But that plate on the front is on the actual car, the "13" that's in the wrong position on the robot is actually in the right spot on the car, and although it's a little lower on the toy the skull and crossbones decal is nearly in the right spot. The taillights look right, and the rims on the car used in the movie were actually black, so I don't have to complain about them not being painted like Shatter's. Dropkick can carry his weapon in alt mode. There's a little notch on the front side of the round part. It pinches onto his spoiler. As bad as Shatter was, as disappointing as Bee was, and as lukewarm as I felt about the previous Dropkick, I was planning on skipping this guy. I ultimately picked him up because I thought he'd at least make a good alt mode display with Shatter, but I fully expected to hate him nearly as much. And, surprisingly, I don't. I still strongly believe that the Bumblebee movie should have had its own toyline with more definitive versions in the Studio Series later when they weren't rushing to get them out in time with the movie. However, of the four Deluxes we got, I think this Dropkick might be the best of them. I'm not sure I'd recommend it, exactly. Frankly, despite being the best live-action Transformers film since the the first one in '07, I don't know if it's had the same effect on the franchise or that the characters will be as memorable. In other words, if you're doing a movie display you have to have guys like Prime, Ironhide, Bee, Ratchet, Megatron, Starscream, Barricade, and Blackout. But you can probably live without Shatter and Dropkick, especially as they were in just one scene in before becoming triple changers. That said, this is a perfectly OK figure. If you do feel like you need a Dropkick then this is the version to get, especially if you (for some reason) picked up Shatter.
  10. Yep. I reviewed it here. I'm going to pass. ToyWorld's Bii is my MP Bumblebee. I'm open to someone doing a better one, I just don't think MP-45 works for me.
  11. Even though I'm enjoying the Siege and Studio Series lines I refuse to spend any time in the part of the boards where they discuss official toys. The entire community is full lot people seeking confirmation bias for the latest purchase rather than actual discussion, but at least the 3P section is aware that there's a discussion to be had. And in this particular discussion, not going to lie, I love the alt mode. It's panely and doesn't look like it holds together very well, but the chibi Bug is how I remember Bee. The previous version's realistic alt mode was way too long and narrow for me (which probably wasn't helped by the designer basing it off the longest Beetle VW made in the 20th century). I can't tolerate the robot mode at all, though. As Bobby noted, it looks like the cartoon from dead-on, but it looks like an unfinished mess from other angles, especially the feet and backpack. The backpack is especially bad. I'm already not a fan of Takara's "make the alt mode a shell that folds into a backpack to reveal a robot made of fake vehicle parts" approach, but this time they're not even trying to get the car shell to fold up neatly. The whole thing comes across less like an MP Transformer and more like a scrap pile hiding behind a cardboard cutout of Bumblebee.
  12. I've said this before, and I'm going to keep saying it... when the Studio Series launched it was exciting because they were revisiting designs from the older movies, movies that many of us don't actually like but have become part of the franchise's history. They were delivering new figures that were more screen accurate, among other improvements, or tackling characters that were sometimes overlooked. They were trying to keep them in scale in robot mode. Even if the figure didn't turn out to be the best, like Stinger, I still respected it. And they threw out a lot of the goodwill they'd built up in my book by shoehorning the toys they'd designed for the Bumblebee into the Studio Series line, because none of them had been particularly good. Bee's wings didn't fold up the way the final movie version's did, and his alt mode is pretty much impossible to keep tabbed together properly. Dropkick is missing a lot of details and winds up nearly unrecognizable, and is saddled with a ton of arm kibble. And yet, if I'm being honest, Bee's robot mode is still pretty solid, and even has ankle pivots that the other Studio Series Bees don't. And if you forget what character he's supposed to be Dropkick is still decent enough with some interesting engineering. And then there's Studio Series Deluxe-class Shatter. Like Dropkick, Shatter drops the triple-changer thing to focus on just one mode, and necessarily loses details over it. There's just wheels on the backs of her shoulders, not jet engines. There's no wings hanging off of her. Which I could forgive, but they don't exactly get the details she does have right. The silver bits on the bottoms of her thighs should actually sit over her knees, and they should be vented because I'm pretty sure they're her Harrier mode's VTOL thrusters. The intakes on her hips should run down most of her thighs (and I'm not sure they're supposed to be intakes). Her lower legs should be mostly smooth and whitish with a little landing gear gear above her ankles, but here the look more like a car grill. Her feet look like (Camaro) Bumblebee's feet painted black and put on backward. The flip out part covering her chest fails to give her the split and angled look of the CGI model, and her collar has none of the roof lights. Her head looks nothing like her movie face, because it's based on concept art of her wearing a battle mask. But even then it's not painted right; it should be almost entirely silver, with a thin red visor slit. Instead most of her face is left bare red plastic, and the result make it look like she's got two big read bug eyes. On top of all that, she's extremely kibbly with a large backpack, car panels on the insides of her shins, and most of the car doors on the backs of her legs. That last one is especially frustrating because, as we'll see, it causes problems for the figure, and if they'd found a way to hang them off her shoulders they'd both be more out of the way and you could pass them off as her wings. EDIT: Actually, I have to retract a lot of the previous paragraph. Namely, the lack of jet parts, the tires on the backs of her shoulders, and almost all of my complaints about her legs. All those details are accurate on the toy to the CGI model used in the film briefly after she and Dropkick arrive on Earth, after they acquire their car modes but before they acquire their third modes. For accessories she comes with two of these blasters. I can't be bothered to look if they're movie-accurate or not. Shatter's articulation is poor. Her head is on a ball joint that can look up and down fairly well, tilt sideways, and rotate. Her shoulders are on ball joints that rotate, provide a slight butterfly motion, and extend a little under 90 degrees. They also pop off if you look at them funny. Her biceps swivel, and her elbows bend about 90 degrees. She's got no waist articulation. Her ball-jointed hips can go over 90 degrees forward, although moving them at all requires moving parts of the backpack out of the way. And even if you do she can't really move her hips backward at all, and the above photo is showing off her widest spread. I can't tell if it's because of how the ball socket is cut, or because she's got big ol' car doors on the backs of her thighs. Her thighs can swivel. Her knees are double-jointed, but still only good for about 90 degrees of bend. Her feet can tilt up and down, but she's got no ankle pivots. She doesn't hold her blasters. They peg onto the outsides of her forearms. Shatter's packaging tells you she turns into a '71 Plymouth GTX (although the marker light suggest she's a '72, and the style of her hood suggests she's a Satellite, but given how much she's been modded for rally racing it's possible she's a '71 GTX with parts from a '72 Satellite). Getting Shatter into alt mode isn't fun at all. In addition to her arms popping off at the shoulder being pretty much a given the sides of her front end, folded into the backpack in robot mode, are also prone to popping off. One my mine even has a stress mark now. On the whole, her alt mode isn't too bad, and a lot of my gripes come down to a lack of paint. The rims should be silver. The vent under the grill should be picked out in black, I don't think the black stripes on the hood are supposed to just stop, they should roll all they way down the fender. The '722' on her rear sides should be a little smaller and further back, and there should be another 722 on the corner of her nose. She's missing some warning markers. Her marker lights would look a bit better if they were painted. While silver around and on her headlights is fine, I'd have liked black between them. And the lights on the roof should have been done in either silver or yellow. Other than that, my biggest complaint are the ugly, visible robot toes that aren't even bot-mode accurate. Her weapons store by plugging them onto the insides of her forearms. At first I thought maybe they're supposed to be part of her alt mode, but I looked and couldn't see anything under the running boards on the actual car used in the movie. At Transformers go posing Shatter is nearly impossible, which makes her something of a failure for a modern Transformer. And actually transforming her is a chore that makes bits pop off, which makes her fail as any of kind of a transformer. Her alt mode looks pretty good, but I feel like if all you wanted was a good-looking Plymouth that you could buy a model or diecast car and have something that looks a lot nicer and doesn't make you question your life decisions. I hate to say this about the only real toy of what's arguably the movie's main villain, but avoid Shatter like the plague. Manipulating her in any way is going to make parts fall off, and once you put them back on you're going to realize she couldn't move in the way you wanted anyway. And even if you just wanted her to stand in a static, relaxed pose she's too far off from the CGI model to look like anything but what she is- trash.
  13. I've got some actual new Siege figures coming that aren't repaints, but they're apparently backordered. So I decided to swing by my local stores just in case. I didn't find any new Siege figures (my local Walmart has all the Hounds you could ever want, while my local Target has nothing but a lone Chromia), but I did see some new Studio Series figures... which reminded me that I've actually had two SS figures that I picked up before I went to China that I never got around to. So let's correct that, shall we? We'll start with Deluxe-class WWII Bumblebee. From the front that's actually not too bad. I went back and looked at concept art and movie stills, and aside from arguing that the green could be a little grayer (although the film was a night, so even that's debatable) thes sculpt is fairly accurate and, dare I say, sporting proportions that are a little improved over the old Camaro mold. If you start to turn him, though, things start to get a little rough. He's sporting a fairly large backpack and his calves are large blocks of kibble. In addition to looking pretty atrocious I've found that it makes him a little backheavy and don't provide him with enough heel, so keeping him standing is a bit of a chore. This version of Bee comes with two accessories. He's got a long-handled hammer, and a pistol with eight barrels around a central axis. Not sure when Bee became the hammer guy (maybe someone who worked on the movie was a fan of IDW's "Heart of Steel" series), but these accessories are pretty accurate. Bee's head is on a ball joint, with the ball socket in the torso instead of the head. He can actually look up and down a decent amount and he's got plenty of sideways tilt in addition to rotation. His shoulders are also on ball joints. They can rotate until his backpack gets in the way and extend laterally 90 degrees. His biceps swivel, and his elbows bend 90 degrees. His wrists don't rotate, but they bend inward due to transformation. He's got some waist rotation, but it's limited. His ball-jointed hims can move 90 degrees forward, backward, or laterally if you move his backpack out of the way. He's got mushroom thigh swivels and knees that bend just under 90 degrees. He's got no foot articulation whatsoever. The biggest challenge posing him after the lack of ankle articulation and the back-heavy backpack is that his torso is held together by two tiny tabs on his shoulders that fit into notches on the inside of his chest. Those tabs pop out very easily when you're manipulating his arms. He can hold either of his weapons fine. There's also a small peg hole on one side of the hammer that you can use to attach it to his back like he carried it in the movie. There's no place to store his pistol, though. Movie accuracy is totally out the window when it comes to his alt mode. In the movie, Bee turned into a Mercedes-Benz 770 (a car famous for being used by a number of Nazi officials, including Hitler). I guess Hasbro thought it'd be to difficult to engineer that transformation, or they didn't want to get a license from Mercedes. Instead they turned to Josh Nizzi's concept art for a WWII Bumblebee, where Nizzi had him turning into a Humber Scout, and then they still got it wrong by using the slightly larger Humber LRC instead. In other words, you've got a robot spoiled by kibble for alt mode he never had, even on paper. Well, at least it's a fairly accurate Humber LRC... as long as you ignore the robot kibble peeking out from under the front bumper, or the fact that the rims should be the same military olive color as the rest of the car. Oh, and the fact that my copy at least doesn't seem to want to fit together very well. Bee's hammer folds in so the handle pokes out like a cannon barrel. I guess that's not totally accurate, either. A real Humber LRC would have an anti-tank rifle mounted there, and it'd be significantly smaller. But I guess it's not totally off. There's also a machine gun turret on the roof with no machine gun in it. Instead, there's a peg hole, and you're supposed to plug his pistol into it. To me, that looks kind of weird, but I guess it's not really any weirder than a Lamborghini Countach with a rocket launcher on the roof. I'm not going to beat around the bush on this one- WWII Bumblebee is a very easy pass. It's a toy representing a version of Bee seen only in a short flashback, ruined by kibble in robot mode and ruined in alt mode by not having one that's movie-accurate. If you need a Studio Series Bee pick up one of the other ones, or wait for the upcoming Studio Series Bee based on the 2008 Camaro that was the one you probably wanted in the first place. Skip Studio Series Hot Rod, who's going to be a slight remold of this figure. This is easily one of the worst figures in the Studio Series line (a line that's disappointingly had nearly as many misses as hits at this point). It's not the worst, though. Tune in tomorrow...
  14. I'm not sold on the alt mode, but if the robot looks like their concept art then I wholeheartedly agree. The way her wings hang off of her hips give me a very Chinese fantasy heroine vibe.
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