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About mikeszekely

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  • Birthday 02/03/1980

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    3P Transformers, video games, quantum gravity, hockey

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  1. Ok, this one's not a newer figure, nor does it exactly fit into my collection these days. However, due to sale/clearance prices at BBTS this one was too interesting to pass up. Tonight it's Planet-X's Pluto, their take on Fall of Cybertron Megatron. Pluto is significantly taller and bulkier than the War For Cybertron Deluxe-class Megatron from Hasbro (which is still a pretty good figure!), and similar in height to Maketoy's Rioter Despotron. That's roughly a head taller than Siege Voyager-class Megatron, but that wouldn't bother me personally if I were to display Pluto with Siege figures. Aesthetically I'm not a huge fan of the design. It's bulky, even compared to other High Moon designs, it's pointy, and (excluding the overabundance of purple) the colors are a tad bland. However, none of that is Planet-X's fault, and the toy is actually extremely faithful to the game, down to details like the placement of the wings on his back, the spikes on his thighs, the protruding knees, and the location of the purple. Most of it is translucent to try to mimic the glow of the game, but some of it is metallic paint. Ultimately, I might say that I wish Planet X had used more paint (like a metallic gunmetal on all the gray parts), but the only real fault I can find is the visible screw holes on his right shoulder due to the use of mirrored parts. Then again, Planet-X did include a baggie of screw hole covers. He also comes with a sword with a large translucent purple blade. I'm not sure if every retail has them, but BBTS put inside the shipping box but not in Pluto's box a replacement hip joint. And I suppose his Fusion Riot Cannon counts as an accessory. It's not in the instructions, but the placement of the screw hole covers is pretty easy to figure out. Three go in the front of his right shoulder, right away addressing one of my primary complaints, and since the part is mirrored three will go on the back of his left shoulder. Two go on the outside of his right leg, one in the red space between the purple lines and one in the middle of the gray molded detail. Those holes are duplicated on the inside of his left leg. Finally, the last four fit into the red band around the top of his forearms, one in the back and one in the front of the inside edge of both arms. The covers do help immensely. I didn't include them with the accessories, as I'd already attached them, but the silver and purple spikes on Pluto's back aren't attached out the box, and like the screw covers they come in a little baggie. They plug in fairly securely, but I've knocked a few back out while handling him. You might want to use some glue. Pluto's head is on a ball joint. Due to the angle of his collar and how his head sits he can look up a fair amount, he can tilt his head sideways a little, he can swivel his head 90 degrees to either side, but he can't look down. His shoulders rotate on some mushy ratchets, and for lateral movement he's got mush ratchets where the shoulders connect to the torso plus a double friction hinge. In addition to getting his shoulders out well over 90 degrees to the hinges can be used to bring his arm across his torso, and I like that. His biceps can swivel. His ratcheted elbows bend 90 degrees. His wrists can swivel, and his fingers (which are all one piece) are hinged at the base so his hands can open and close. He does have a waist swivel. It gets caught up on the armatures connecting his wings to his body, so you might have to unplug and move a wing, but the molded detail on his crotch is actually on a hinge and can fold down out of the way. His hips can move forward and backward 90 degrees, and just a little shy of it laterally, with the same kind of mushy ratchets used in the shoulders. His thighs swivel around the hip joint, and his knees bend 90 degrees on a ratchet. His ankles are big ball joints at the end of a hinge, so his feet can bend up, swivel, and bend at the ankle. His toes can bend down; his whole foot could if not for a heel piece that gets in the way. On my copy, the ball joints are a little looser than I'd like, but the aforementioned heel pieces can act like a support against him leaning too far backward. Pluto's Riot Cannon has a peg inside that fits into a hole on either arm. It can be a bit of a pain to go in, though, since the peg is on a hinge, and the peg wants to fold in as you're trying to get it into the hole. He holds his sword just fine, but you'll note the spikey pommel. You can't slide it down into the 5mm hole that his fist makes (although, in hindsight, you could have him hold the Riot Cannon like a gun by doing just that) because of that pommel. So instead you kind of have to force the handle into the open grip, like his hand and thumb are making a C-clip. It works, but it doesn't feel comfortable. Pluto's alt mode is large and definitely has the correct silhouette, but this is definitely where the sacrifices were made to get the spot-on robot mode. There are gaps between his arms and his legs that are only really filled by the armatures that the wings are on. The horns on the front are dark gray instead of light gray, and a lot more red is showing on Pluto than on either the in-game model or the concept art, plus there's the row of spikes behind the cannon that aren't on the in-game model. I'd chalk all that down to the fact that Megatron's transformation in the game seems to be about as well thought about and nearly as much CGI bull as the flying Transformium cubes KSI's bots used in Age of Extinction. Honestly, I'm impressed that Planet-X got as close they did. Planet-X even worked in some little details like thrusters that were in the concept art/CGI for the game. They even gave Pluto a detailed spark chamber under his chest armor that's exposed in alt mode. Although, his head is similarly exposed. The barrel of the Riot Cannon extends, and the whole thing tabs in place to form an integral part of the alt mode. His sword isn't so integral, but Planet-X did include a way to store it by plugging in into a peg hole under the nose, with part of the sword's hilt sitting between the notches. Without any wheels or anything, I'm afraid his alt mode doesn't do anything else but sit there and look pretty cool. I kind of hinted at it when I kept referring to some of his ratchets as "mushy," but the QC on Pluto feels like a bit of a step back from figures like their Grimlock (which I love) or their Optimus (which I had, sold, and now have a preorder on an upcoming reissue). It's not just the joints; something feels a little off about the plastic. I think my initial impression of him out the box was that I understood why he might not have sold so well. Indeed, I'm still not sure if he's worth the $115 list price. After messing with him for a bit, though, I have to admit that I do rather like him. He does capture the look of Megatron in the game very well, and he's reasonably well-articulated for all of his bulk. Transforming him is much easier than their Grimlock or Prime, with the lion's share of the work being done in his lower legs. If you're into Megatron, Fall of Cybertron, or just like collecting CHUG-style figures in general he's well worth the $69 BBTS is currently asking for him.
  2. Probably not as interesting as Stunticons and Combaticons, but tonight we have God Armour, Fans Hobby's take on Godbomber. I'd say my initial reaction was that God Armor looks a little bland. When I put him next to the Takara Legends version you can see that it has some red on its crotch, yellow tips on the arm wings, a larger swath of black on its chest, blue thighs, and black feet, and you might be inclined to think that Fans Hobby's deco is wrong. You might even find yourself some screencaps of Godbomber in the Super God Masterforce show with coloring right in line with what you see on the Takara Legends version to back up that notion. And yet, if you go back to the actual toy and boxart of Godbomber you'll see it had a solid gray torso, with the only black being the hinge that the head sat on. It sports gray nubs between its hips and legs that could be interpreted as thighs. Its arms and feet were solid blue, although I think there were stickers with yellow stripes for the wings. And Godbomber's legs were blue on the outer half and gray on the inner half, with molded but unpainted vents near the bottoms and stickers similar to the details on God Armor's knees. Blue on his left breast, solid blue lower legs, and red paint on the shin vents seem to be the only concessions to Masterforce, otherwise God Armor is fairly toy-accurate with a few extra red details and the tampos Fans Hobby loves so much. There is actually one other change. Instead of having his wings sticking straight out behind him between his arms and his torso, God Armor's are actually attached near his waist. They go backward behind him a but, but then they bend upward and tab into his back. Not super accurate, I know, but it secures them out of the way, and I kind of like it. If I'm being totally honest, though, I do kind of wish that Fans Hobby had given him blue thighs and red on pelvis like Masterforce. Oh, and by the way, God Armor is a pretty big fellow. It stands to reason, since he was about the same size as Super Ginrai in the show, but God Armor is actually half a head taller than Power Baser. God Armor comes with quite a few accessories. He comes with his God Cannon, and two missiles. Like the original toy, you can load missiles into the cannon and fire them using a button on top of the cannon. However, if you just want to load a missile and leave it there for the look, Fans Hobby did something I'm surprised no one else has thought of before; they put a safety on it. With the safety engaged, the button can't be pressed and the missile won't fire. You also get a pair of swords. When, exactly, did swords become a Godbomber/God Ginrai thing? I don't believe the original G1 toys had swords, and I don't recall them having swords in Masterforce, but Takara Legends Godbomber came with a sword, one of the Perfect Effect upgrade kits for God Ginrai had an even bigger sword, Maketoys Cross Dimension God Ginrai came with a sword, and their Cross Dimension version of Godbomber came with a second sword. In any case, the blade on either sword can be extended, and the sides of the hilt can spread open. Lastly, you get a new head for Power Baser, and three heads that, at the moment, don't fit any bodies. They are, of course, the Headmaster Juniors, and you can see how they stack up to Powerbaser's Powermaster. The transformation on the Juniors is similar to Maketoys' Headmasters, except the foreheads come off and are set aside while the heads are in humanoid mode. At first glance the new head for Powerbaser is very similar to the original one; just some extra silver on the bottom of the helmet and slightly different molded details on the brow. The new head has a gimmick, though. The forehead crest can slide up, and the ears can slide out, revealing a little more red. I'm not sure I'm totally loving the red- maybe silver or a lighter shade of blue would have worked better. But I do love the idea that Super Ginrai's head transforms a little for God Ginrai mode. God Armour's head is technically on a ball joint, but due to the fact that his head splits for transformation the range is necessarily restricted. He can look up and down a little, his head can tilt sideways a little, and his head can swivel, but only about 35-45 degrees. His shoulders rotate on ratchets, and they can extend laterally a hair over 90 degrees, also on a ratchet. It's kind of neat, there are flaps on the tops of his shoulders that open to allow the lateral range, and the flaps slide into his torso as he moves. He's got bicep swivels, and his elbows can bend well over 90 degrees on a single hinge. His wrists are actually large ball joints, so they can swivel but they can also bend in/out/up/down. Each finger is individually articulated, with a pin hinge at the base and two additional pin hinged knuckles, while his thumb has a ball joint at the base and one additional knuckle hinge. His waist can swivel, but only about 45 degrees in either direction. He's got the slightest hint of an ab crunch, and he can arch his back. His hips can bend forward a little under 90 degrees, backward 90 degrees, and laterally about 60 degrees, all on ratchets. The lateral ratchets are strong enough to support the figure, but if you pose him trying to high kick they might give under the weight of his lower legs. His thighs can swivel. His knees are double-jointed and bend well over 90 degrees. His feet can bend up and down a little, and his ankles can pivot under 45 degrees plus they can swivel. The swords slide into God Armour's hands using the same rail system as other Fans Hobby and many Maketoys figures. For God Armour I like to keep the hilt closed and only extend one segment of the blade. Like the G1 toy, the God Cannon can be removed from his shoulder. A handle can unfold from the rear, allowing God Armor to carry it in his hand. And if your wondering, yes, God Armour can hold Power Baser's rifles just fine. It's funny, while Takara used a ton of hinges to make it possible to transform Godbomber from robot to vehicle without coming apart like the G1 toy Fans Hobby has largely embraced it. His legs come off, with his thighs sinking into the shins, wheels outstretch, and panels unfurl to form the base of the vehicle. His back locks on to form the front of the vehicle. His forearms come off, attach to each other, then slide in at the top behind the front of the vehicle. The rest of his body splits in half down the middle, with the back of his head on one side and the front on the other. His biceps collapse, then his shoulders and the halves of his pelvis tuck in before reconnecting to make the top and rear of the vehicle. Again, it's very similar to the G1 toy in terms of design and proportions. In other words, it's not quite as long as it was drawn in Masterforce, but not quite as stumpy and empty in the rear as the newer Takara figure. Like the G1 toy the God Cannon plugs into what was the hole on his left breast, but the chest is rotated 180 degrees on God Armour so the cannon plugs in on the right side instead of the left. Still, that's better that sandwiched in the middle like the Takara Legends version, and on the whole I'm very pleased with God Armour's alt mode. Folding down the black bumper will give you the clearance you need to open the front of the vehicle. Inside you'll find some tabs on the back wall that you can use to clip in the forehead parts from the Headmaster Juniors. The Juniors themselves have spaces to ride as well, although it's standing room only. The Junior's and their forehead parts can stay inside in every mode, so you don't have to worry about loosing them. Speaking of storage, you may have noticed a pair of rectangular holes on the blades of the swords. They fit around clips on the underside of God Armour's alt mode. There are even cutouts in the panels on the back of God Armour for the pommels of the swords to peak out. While I think God Armour looks fine on his own, there's a fold out hitch on the front of his bumper. Faced one way, with the open side down, you can trap nubs on the sides between the legs of Power Baser's cab. Or, if you turn it so the open side is up, it'll clip onto the back of Power Baser's trailer. Power Baser, fully linked with his trailer and God Armour, is a little longer than DX9's Motormaster. In other words, long. One of the sad facts about Godbomber is that he exists really as an upgrade for Super Ginrai, and I imagine that most people interested in God Armour are interested in ripping him apart and sticking him on their Power Baser. So here he is, fully armed up and still a tad shorter than Double Evil (Fans Hobby's Overlord). He looks pretty good, I think, although Power Baser already had kind of a belly on him, and the armor that fits over it (while still having space inside for the Headmaster Juniors) exacerbates that. I'm also not crazy about the fact that the God Cannon attaches to the same hole for this mode as it does for God Armour's robot mode, as it looks like it's sitting too far forward to me. Power Baser's rifles can be stored on the tips of God Armour's wings. Alternatively, they have spots they can plug into on his backpack, which I personally think looks better. The swords also have spots on his back that they can store on. While you're looking back there, notice how God Armour's torso is split in half, with half connecting to each side of Power Baser's own backpack. By connecting to the sides I think they look fairly integrated and don't add more bulk sticking out from his back. Aside from using God Armour's hands, all the joints and articulation come from and are technically equal to Power Baser on his own. And I'm pleased to report that the connections, especially between the soles of Power Baser's feet and God Armour's legs and God Armour's arms over Power Baser's, are all pretty secure. The only part that kept popping off is the chest armor, although I did knock a wing off trying to pose the cannon. The bigger problem, though, is that the ratchets in Power Baser's hips (and possibly his knees) are simply too weak for the extra weight. I had to take extra care while posing him, and the more dynamic the pose the greater the risk that he was going to start doing the splits and fall over. I can't guarantee that this is universally the case; my copy of Power Baser is from the original run, and Fans Hobby has reissued Power Baser once or twice with some improvements. I don't know if one of those improvements is better ratchets or not. I can only offer an opinion based on my own copies of these figures. And with that in mind, my recommendation on buying God Armour comes entirely down to how you feel about Godbomber. Do you like Godbomber, as an individual, on his own merits? Because God Armor is a fantastic Godbomber toy. Yes, he's a little light, especially in his upper body, due to having a mostly-hollow torso and forearms, but unlike both the original G1 toy and the newer Takara Legends Godbombers God Armour is solid, especially in the forearms with no visible gaps. He's got good articulation, his joints aren't floppy, and nothing feels like it's going to fall off (unless you're trying to take him apart). In alt mode everything fits together into a satisfyingly solid truck that might actually be my favorite of his modes. If you want an MP Godbomber then God Armour will definitely do. However, if you want an MP God Ginrai then I don't think Power Baser + God Armour are really cutting it, as the combined experience is decidedly less solid, and the proportions don't really capture the heroic appearance he had in Masterforce. I might have been ok rolling with it anyway, but I just can't count on the ratchets in Power Baser's hips holding up the weight of their combined mode. I think you might be better off ordering the Marvel Comics-style head and solid red hands from Fans Hobby and displaying Power Baser on his own as the Marvel Comics Powermaster Optimus instead using him to make God Ginrai.
  3. Thanks for reading, as always! Honestly Capone is even less necessary, as Attila is more solid even without him than Kronos is without Silver Arrow. I don't think we're the majority, but we're definitely not the only one buying multiples, especially people who bought Zeta combiners, as their individual team members leave a bit to be desired. And there are definitely people who want to display combiners with the team members that make them up. It's why I'm thinking it'd almost be better to make robots that didn't combine and a separate robot for the combined mode that doesn't come apart. That said, I'm really liking what MMC is doing with their Bruticus, and I'm not married to the idea that an MP combiner needs to be 20"/50cm. If their Defensor turns out as good as their Bruticus I'll be on board with MMC doing all the combiners... even if it means buying yet another Menasor.
  4. It finally came! So I guess everything else I got this past weekend will have to keep a little longer, because today we're looking at DX9's Capone, their MP Motormaster. When I picked up the other two released DX9 Stunticons I was pleasantly surprised to find that while their alt modes were a little large I preferred them to XTB's. Well, that's not really the case this time. Aesthetically Capone is the weakest of the three. His thighs and arms are too thin, his arms are too long, and his pinched face is the worst of the three. His fake truck feet have the least blocky shape, with bumpers that extend well beyond the cab and the fuel tanks jutting off the sides, and large hinges cutting into the fake grill. There is some stuff here to like, though. Capone is the only Motormaster that isn't taller than the various options for MP Optimus or MP Megatron. And the shortest Motormaster with Seeker-sized cars means that DX9's Stunticons are the closest in size to each other, which I kind of like. His shins are straight black, unlike FT's, and all of his shin windows are purple, unlike XTB's. Indeed, I rather like that they used the actual cab windows for the largest of the shin windows. Capone is the only one of the three to use a more cartoon-accurate gunmetal color for the fake grill and bumper. Capone is also the only option with all-white/light gray arms, and he's the only one without a backpack. While FT and XT both came with a sword, a gun, and a replacement face, Capone comes with a few more accessories (although, sadly, he's lacking a replacement face). He does have a gun and sword for Capone, and and the sword's got a nice metallic gray paint. In addition to Capone's sword you get a second sword for Menasor mode. Speaking of Menasor mode, you'll get a little whitish part that helps secure Breakdown in leg mode. Lastly, you get "that thing from that episode," the Lightning Bug from "Cosmic Rust." Its wings can open and close, its mouth parts can open and close, its legs can swivel forward and backward at the base and they each have two hinges. It's more than just an easter egg-style pack-in, though. It'll have another use we'll talk about when we get to combined mode. After handling XTB's Motormaster recently I can't help but be a little disappointed by Capone's articulation. His head can swivel, and he can look up and down a bit. His shoulders rotate on ratchets, and they can extend laterally 90 degrees. His biceps swivel. His elbows are single-jointed and can't quite get 90 degree of bend before the block of his shoulder and the block of his forearm collide and prevent them from bending further. His wrists can swivel, and his hands can bend inward. Unlike XTB and FT, Capone does not have fully articulated hands. His thumb is hinged at the base so it can open and closed, as are his fingers, and his index finger is a separate piece while the other three are a single chunk. Since none of his fingers have any other knuckle joints are are molded into a curl he can't point. His waist has a soft ratchet for rotation, and he's got about 45 degrees of ab crunch. The front of his pelvis is hinged to move out of the way of his hips, but it's a single solid piece instead of individual flaps over each hip. The hips can move 90 degrees forward, 45 degrees backward, and about 75 degrees laterally, all on ratchets. His thighs swivel around the joints. He's knees are a single friction joint, but they do have very good range (between 120-140 degrees, I'd guess). His feet don't tilt up or down, but he does have 90 degrees of ankle pivot. He can hold his sword and gun just fine, using the standard MP method of pushing tabs on the handles into slots in his palms. If you're a fan of the simplified Sunbow look you might really like Capone's truck mode. Of the three, it's the only one with the cartoon's darker bumper and grill. Personally, I prefer the more realistic details of XTB's and FT's. Another look at the cabs, this time from the side. DX9 went for the purple fuel tank, like XTB, but silver smokestacks like FT (AFAIK, both the cartoon and G1 toy didn't have smokestacks). Once again, I prefer the more realistic details on XTB's and FT's. If we pan out a bit, we can compare the trailer to FT's (but we're still waiting on XTB's). And the most immediate thing you're going to notice is that it's pretty huge. I don't want to say with absolute certainty that it's too long, since truck trailers can vary in length. It's definitely longer than MP-10's, though, and long enough that you can park FT's Motormaster, cab and trailer, on top of it with room to spare. The doors on the rear of the trailer are detailed in a pretty realistic manner, and they even open. You're not going to be able to put anything inside, though, as it's already full of parts. Parts that we'll get into shortly. Capone rolls on rubber tires, and the cab can turn at the hitch. Unlike FT and XTB, the doors on Capone's cab can open. Capone's gun uses peg holes to attach to pegs on the upper corner on either side of the trailer. His sword can tab in between the cab's wheels. While you're down there you can kind of store the larger Menasor sword, although it doesn't tab in. It's relying on friction from the purple parts on the blade and the trailers wheels on the base of the hilt. Unfortunately I couldn't find anywhere to store the lightning bug or the extra part for Breakdown. XTB's Motormaster turned into just the cab, with the trailer to be sold later. FT's Motormaster turned into the entire cab and trailer, just like the G1 toy. Capone takes an approach more like Fansproject and TFM, where the cab and a portion of the trailer form Motormaster, while the rest of the trailer becomes parts for combined mode. "Parts" might be an understatement, though. What you see here is just the transformed trailer, no Stunticons attached, and as you can see it's more or less a 90% complete Attila (DX9's Menasor). Normally I wouldn't cover the combined mode until the whole set is complete, but Atilla is close enough that there's little point in waiting. I have to admit that a part of me finds this level of partsforming to be ludicrously excessive, and I do hope one day MMC tries their all-in-one gimmick on a Studio OX-style Menasor. But I have to concede this is pretty much the only way to get a Sunbow-accurate Menasor, and it does make for a very sturdy, stable body. I'd argue that this makes a case for doing combiners as five/six team members with great robot and alt modes that don't transform into body parts, and a combined mode that's an entirely separate figure. For those curious about the size he's right in line with the ToyWorld/Zeta combiners. DX9 gave Attila's eyes a light-up gimmick. Sure, they look good lit up, but like so many other figures with light-up eyes they look lifeless and black when they're turned off... which is 99% of the time the figure is posed on a shelf. Fortunately it's fairly easy to take the head apart to paint the eyes, which I did. Attila can look up and down a little bit, and his head can swivel. His shoulders rotate on ratchets. They can extend over 90 degrees laterally on a ratchet, plus a little more on a friction hinge meant for transformation (although having a car attached will definitely create some clearance issues with the boxes on his collar; I'll be sure to update when Dragstrip and Dead End come out). He's got a ratcheted bicep swivel, and double-jointed ratcheted elbows that curl 180 degrees (again, we'll see if having cars attached hinders the range). His wrists can swivel. The bases of his fingers and thumb are ball joints for bend and spread, plus all his digits have two additional pin hinge knuckles. He has a ratcheted waist swivel, but no ab crunch. His hips are extremely stiff ratchets (if you have DX9's Omega Supreme, you'll know what I'm talking about). They go just under 90 degrees forward, just under 45 degrees backward, and just over 90 degrees laterally. Just like with Capone the front of Atilla's pelvis will hinge up and out of the way, but as one solid piece instead of individual skirts. He's got ratcheted thigh swivels, and ratcheted knees that bend 90 degrees. His feet have no up/down tilts, but they have ratcheted ankle pivots good for over 90 degrees IMPORTANT NOTE: DX9 mirrored the hip parts. Examine yours carefully, if you see two screw heads the same side one hip is backward. There have been reports of people breaking the ratchet because they think it's simply stiff and force it into a straight-standing position. If one leg won't straighten all the way manipulate the leg until the him has turned 180 degrees, then rotate the thigh 180 degrees. Attila's sword works much the same as Capone's, only it has two tabs and his palms have two slots. Attila can't hold Capone's gun- the tab on the handle is too wide. But you can still arm Attila with a gun. That's where the lightning bug comes in- it transforms! It's kind of an odd-looking gun, though. If you do want to attach the Stunticons to Attila's body you can, of course. But while the instructions tell you how to turn the front of the truck into Capone and the bulk of the trailer into Attila, it doesn't tell you how to turn Capone into a part of Attila. Fortunately it's not too difficult. Start but folding and twisting the rear wheels and swinging the fuel tanks forward like you would for robot mode (1). Remember to fold in the bars that lock the wheels in place in truck mode. Spin the trailer 180 degrees so that the open side is facing the cab, and split it open (2). Fold the cab down against Capone's chest (3), then close it up so the sides of the trailer lock over the side view mirrors (4). It should look like this when you're done. Put the block of Capone into Attila's back, then close his sides so that the same pegs you used to stick Capone's gun to the trailer fit into the peg indicated peg holes, then finish transforming Attila according to his regular instructions. For Henry (Wildrider), you need to flip out the part of his chest that clipped to his butt in car mode. Feed it through the slot on the hinged panel, then push the rear of the car in so that the peg at the top of Attila's calf fits into the peg hole on Henry. Unfortunately the weight of the car pulls on the hinged panels on Attila's calf, causing it to bow outward. Which, it turn, starts to pull the rear off the peg. In short, the connection isn't very secure. On the flip side, that hollow space inside the leg might be a good place to store the individual Stunticon weapons when they're combined, as long as you don't mind them rattling around in there. Montana (Breakdown) connects a little more solidly. A peg flips out of his chest (that you unfortunately have to half undo the car mode to get to). It plugs into the hinged panel on the back of Attila's other half. There's a tab near the base of Attila's leg (that I unfortunately didn't get in the frame as I was trying to take the picture with just my left hand as I held up Montana with my right), and it fits into a gap between the Montana's arms at the front of the car. Lastly, there's that part we mentioned way back with the accessories. It just uses friction, but it wedges in between Montana's legs at the back of the car, with a peg facing outward. That peg fits into a peg hole on Attila's leg. It's still not the best, but it's better than Henry's connection. Honestly, though, I kind of hope someone makes some lightweight fake cars to plug in place instead. Then you could have a complete Menasor and a complete set of Stunticons without buying multiple sets like I am. It's always tougher to recommend a combiner team members than other figures, because I think most people aren't interested in buying multiple versions or mixing and matching sets. I have to stress that if Capone were the only Motormaster on the market I'd recommend him, because I think he's a fine figure and the DX9 Stunticons work well as a cohesive team. If they're going to do this level of partsforming I like that Attila's body is the trailer and not just something you set aside for anything but combined mode. Attila is sturdy and stable, and seems to be a fine Menasor body, although the connection for the leg cars is a bit of a disappointment and we don't know how the arms will fit yet. Ultimately, it's still too soon to pick a winner in the Menasor wars. I'll say I very much like how Attila looks and feels, but I do prefer a toy/OX-style for Menasor. I'm hoping that XTB will do a "Youth" version trailer for their Motormaster that turns into a toy-style Menasor, and we know that Fans Toys planned to give owners the option for an OX-style Menasor. There's still a chance that I'll like them better than Attila, or that one of them will be a toy/OX-style Menasor to go with Attila as a Sunbow Menasor. As for Motormasters, if you're in on the DX9 Stunticons I think you'll be happy with Capone. But, if you're looking for one best standalone MP Motormaster I'd suggest XTB's or FT's instead.
  5. Yep. I don't really think of it as part of Incursus' articulation, though, since you can swing the cannons over his shoulders without using those hinges, but as I'm sure you're aware (but I'm mentioning for the rest of the class) is that those hinges are necessary to spread the cannons further apart for combined mode. After the last two are out and reviewed I'll post a review of the combined mode, and I'm sure I'll talk about it more then. Somehow that detail escaped me, but you're totally right. Hmm, that's not normally like me. In my defense, though, I was touring kindergartens today, plus after a post-holiday lull I'm suddenly bombarded with new stuff. Incursus and the DNA upgrade kits came in a box with one more figure, I got another box today with two more figures, and after 68 days the Capone I ordered around Thanksgiving from ShowZ made it to Pittsburgh and should arrive Monday or Tuesday. As long as it doesn't sit there for over three weeks like it did in NY.
  6. Upgrade kits are fun and all, but how about something juicier? Something like Occular Max's Incursus, their MP-style Onslaught? Not gonna lie, when I preordered Incursus months ago I was doing it mostly because I wanted to complete this set. Viewed from straight on like this Incursus' torso looks too long, especially between his chest and his waist. As chunky as it is, Zeta's actually seems to have better proportions, and to get his arms as close to his sides as I have them in the above picture you actually have to fold a flap needed for alt mode down. Additionally, Incursus has some visible hinges and silver paint showing on his midriff, and the round circles (lights?) look like the more correct size on Zeta's and UT's. That said, his torso really isn't that much longer than Zeta's. I think he looks longer than he his because his torso doesn't taper in the way Zeta's or UT's do. In that sense, and with the prominent wheels on the front of his torso, he's definitely got a bit of the G1 toy's appearance. Of the three, I prefer MMC's head sculpt. MMC also has the best colors, with a deep blue and a proper olive color vs the baby blues UT and Zeta used and the Zeta brown and UT tan. Incursus' sole accessory is the most G1 cartoony gun of the three. It's not just for Incursus, though; like many combiners Onslaught's gun will be Bruticus' as well. Usualy it seems like when this happens there's one hand the folds out for the torso bot and a second handle for the gestalt, but MMC's doing something a little different. Yes, a smaller handle folds out for Incursus. But instead of a whole second handle, the larger handle folds out from the same spot and incorporates the smaller one. I dig it. Incursus looks better in motion than he does in static poses, I think. His head's on a ball joint with decent up/down/sideways tilt. His shoulders rotate on a ratchet, extend laterally 90 degrees on another ratchet, and a third ratcheted hinge more for transformation can push his arm past 90 degrees. He does have a bicep swivel, but his biceps are plagued with clearance issues. I already mentioned that flap; if it's folded down in alt mode position it'll be in the way, but even if it's not the cab on the back of his shoulder is also in the way. You can untab it and move it as you would for combined mode to get it out of the way, but then it just hangs there. His elbows are double-jointed and can curl 180 degrees. His wrists swivel, and he's got articulated hands with a ball joint at the base of the thumb, a pin hinge at the base of each finger, and two additional hinged knuckles on each finger. His waist has a ratcheted swivel, and he's got a small ab crunch. His hips can go forward and sideways 90 degrees and backward just a little less, all on ratchets. He has thigh swivels just above his knees, and his knees bend slightly over 90 degrees on very soft ratchets. Part of his foot can tilt down a little, his toes can bend up, and his ankles can pivot 90 degrees. He holds his gun in the pretty standard MP method of using tabs on the handle to fit into slots on his palms. The cannons on his back can slide forward a bit, exposing hinges that will allow them to swivel over his shoulders. I thought Zeta did a pretty good truck mode (UT's not as much), but MMC's is definitely the most accurate. Only MMC got the shape of the guns right and the camo pattern, plus the cartoon-accurate round headlights, black grill with silver bars in the middle and a silver bumper, and the olive hinge on the cab and olive tool boxes along the bed. And for what it's worth, Incursus has the most straightforward engineering of the three, with a lot of it coming straight from the G1 toy. While in truck mode the guns on the bend can raise up and swivel. He rolls just fine on rubber tires. Incursus' gun can plug in between the barrels of his AA guns. The instructions (and some online images) suggest that the gun should be oriented the same way as he holds it, with a hole on the butt that fits onto a peg between the barrels. However, you'll notice that there are details that sort of look like tabs on the sides. I've found if you plug the gun in upside-down those tabs line up with grooves on the AA barrels. The hatch on top of the guns can be opened. There's some neat molded details inside, but not much else. One thing I should mention- I've seen pictures of Incursus with his bed swung to the side, like a truck taking a corner. The instructions do mention a button that detaches the waist, and I found the button on my copy. However, I can't get it to press and I can't get the waist to detach, and frankly I don't feel like breaking the figure over a feature I'd rarely use. Once again, I don't normally cover the combined modes of figures until I have the whole team, but since MMC's gimmick is zero partsforming I do want to show you how that pans out. As with his alt mode, the bulk of the transformation is very similar to the G1 toy. Bruticus' head even opens up and fits over Incursus' own head. The big difference is that, instead of taking Onslaught's chest off and replacing it with Bruticus', Incursus' chest splits in half and rotates out to form the "wings" of the chest piece, his abs spill down to form his pelvis armor, and the rest of his chest comes with his head out of his back to wrap over the front. I don't really know what to say about the looks. I do like the proportions. In my mind, Bruticus has the G1 toy's broad chest, narrow waist, and wide hips, and MMC nailed that, but it's not sort of taper that the cartoon had. The head is certainly cartoon-accurate, but despite being painted like the cartoon's Blast Off chest it's too flat. And Sunbow purists are going to complain that much of the torso and thighs are blue instead of silver... probably before extolling the virtues of pantsforming and bemoaning the sacrifices MMC made for the all-in-one gimmick. The blue doesn't bother me. While I like cartoon-accurate Combaticons I've always preferred a toy/Studio OX-style Bruticus. Fortunately, MMC does have that covered, albeit with a rather pricey "upgrade" kit. The kit includes two boxes, which can lock together to form one longer box. The boxes can unfold into silver slippers for the combined mode feet. You also get a replacement toy-style chest for Incursus, a toy-style silver chest for Bruticus, a Studio OX-style Bruticus head, and a larger Studio OX-style rifle. First thing's first, then: we have to replace Incursus' chest panels. This is the only step that requires a screwdriver. You have to unfold the panels like you're going into combined mode, then you can unscrew the old panels. Keep the screws, since the new chest doesn't come with them! Screw the new chest in place and you're good to go. Replacing the Bruticus chest is a cinch. There are pins running through long hinges, and you just have to slide the original chest off then slide the replacement on. As for the heads, open the front of the head then push it back off the nubbins. Then just find the notches in the replacement head and pop it onto the nubbins. Everything still folds up into Incursus' body the same as the old parts. The all-in-one thing is still very important to MMC, so they didn't leave anything to just sit around. The new rifle, like the default gun, has smaller handle and a larger handle the folds onto the smaller one. And with the smaller handle Incursus can hold the new rifle just the same as the old one. As for the boxes, if you flip open one side you'll find some slots that fit over some tabs on top of Incursus' shoulders. I guess the black circles are supposed to be rocket launchers or something. In truck mode, the boxes can stick together to make a longer box, and the box again has some slots that fit into tabs on the bed. And while the new gun doesn't have a peg hole on the back like the default gun, it does have those tabs on the sides that fit into the barrels of the AA gun. And you know what? I thought sticking the default gun there seemed kind of like an afterthought, that it didn't really fit there. But this new gun kind of works there. Almost like the took a mobile AA platform and fitted it with a railgun to shoot at enemy satellites or something. Note that the barrel of the OX gun can actually fold over on itself. There's even a slot near the tip that fits onto a tab further down. The instructions don't mention it, and I'm not really sure why it's there. But it is. The best use of the boxes (outside of shoes) isn't even in the instructions. Fold up the panels that end up on Incursus' butt, then bend his thighs out and use the combined mode transformation joint to spread the back of the truck in half. With the boxes combined, they'll fit in the space you just created. Open the end of the box at the back to form a ramp. Swivel the AA gun around, split the cab in half and lay the halves alongside Incursus' torso. Voilà! It's the base mode from the G1 toy. Boxes and ramps and big guns are all well and good, but that's not enough of a reason in my book to spend the cash on this upgrade. It's all about how the combined mode looks... and it looks good! I prefer the thinner antenna, taller crest, sharper details, and smaller eyes of the OX head over the cartoon head. Likewise, especially with the blue thighs, the silver chest is my jam. I totally understand and respect anyone who's looking for colors and proportions more like the Sunbow model, but this absolutely looks like a Masterpiece version of the G1 toy to me. The shoes, which have a surprisingly involved transformation, will give me the silver color I want on the feet plus and extra maybe half inch of height. Partsforming advocates keep bringing up the sacrifices the all-in-one gimmick have brought to this set. With Swindle and Vortex I didn't totally get it; they're cartoon accurate, look good in both modes, have good articulation, Swindle's all-in-one feet have tilt and pivot, and Vortex's arm mode has a deeper elbow bend and less-restricted bicep swivel than either Zeta or Unique Toys'. With Incursus, though, I have to admit that I get it. Incursus is not a perfect Onslaught. The all-in-one gimmick left him with a short chest on a long, blocky torso. A torso with hinges and paint and tabs where I'd prefer things a little smoother. Despite these sacrifices, Incursus is the best Onslaught I've handled. Maybe he doesn't clean up as well as Zeta in a stoic pose, but for the most part he handles his bulk better and has better engineering that makes for a smoother transformation between modes. So sure, there's still room for improvement, and maybe someday Fans Toys or XTB or DX9 will come along with something better. For now, this is the best stand-alone MP Onslaught you can get. As for the upgrade kit, there's enough moving parts and paint that I can kind of see why it's as pricey as it is, but it's definitely pricey for an add-on. If Sunbow Bruticus is your jam, or you're just interested in Incursus as a stand-alone Onslaught to go with Zeta or someone else's Bruticus then I'd have to say pass, it's not worth it. But if you're like me and prefer the toy/OX look for combined mode, and you're definitely planning on collecting the whole team and combining them, then the upgrade kit makes a good-looking Bruticus a great-looking Bruticus and I'll definitely recommend it.
  7. In your opinion. You're free to disagree with me, but my opinion is still my opinion, not a statement of fact that's provably false.
  8. Oh, I'm definitely sitting Arcee (and Tigatron) out. I haven't bought an official MP since 28. I don't really care for the super Sunbow robots carrying their alt modes in a backpack that wraps around them like a cocoon when they transform direction Takara was heading in even before the crazy price creep.
  9. Looks to me like they put their "fold 90% of the alt mode into a backpack that shell forms around the robot" team on it.
  10. While the big names in unofficial Transformers are making their own figures the scene was really born from making add-on kits for official figures, and the market for those upgrades still exists. One of the more interesting groups filling that niche is DNA Design, for a number of reasons. Their kits are arguably of a higher quality than the 3D-printed stuff a lot of other groups are offering, they're professionally packaged and not just some parts in a bag like my last Dr. Wu orders, and they're making kits for more than just combiners like Transform Dream Wave and a lot of Perfect Effect's stuff. On the other hand, they've been kind of hit or miss. Their better kits, like the ones they did for Studio Series Grimlock and SS Ironhide, fixed some problems and added a good bit to the base figures. Some, like the one for SS Megatron, were ok but didn't feel necessary. And some, like the foot kit for Metroplex, seemed to cause more problems than it solved. DNA Design released three kits recently. The first, DK-11, is an upgrade kit primarily for the combined mode of Studio Series Prime and Jetfire, and I won't be reviewing it because I'm not interested in a little more combined mode screen-accuracy at the expense of clutter that negatively affects their individual modes (canards on an SR-71!). The other kits are for Siege Ultra Magnus and Siege Galaxy Upgrade Optimus. Now, I liked both of those figures, but they definitely had their issues. Most notably they had some weird proportions, and I hated the very visible hollow spaces in Prime's back guns. DNA's kits promised to address those issues, so those I did pick up. Other companies like Ratchet Studio have attempted to take on the leg proportions before with hip extensions, but DNA's kits include whole legs. Both kits also include some new weapons- a hammer that's probably designed with Ultra Magnus in mind, and an axe that makes me think more of Prime. The legs and weapons are all you get in the Ultra Magnus version (DK-14), but the one for Prime (DK-13 also includes two silver bits for filling some hollow spaces on those back guns. To start, then we need to swap those legs, and it's a pretty simple matter. They're attached to the hips via a mushroom peg, so you just have to work the old legs off and then push the new ones on. Be advised, though, that the fit on my copies was extremely tight, and I had to file the slots inside the DNA legs. Otherwise they wouldn't swivel. Anyway, once the new legs are on, don't toss those old ones yet! You need to pop the wheels off of them and swap them over to the new legs. The new legs have improved articulation over the originals. The knees are double-jointed, so they can bend nearly 180 degrees instead of the 90 degree bend on the original. And the ankle pivot has a much deeper bend. Of course we're not here for articulation, we're here to fix the proportions, and I'd say that they definitely look a bit better with longer legs. It does look like the extra length comes from shins, but the lower knee bend is below the panels with the silver rectangles. Actually, my biggest complaint here might be the extra height. I mean, I don't mind it so much for Magnus, but I don't really care for Prime being taller than Megatron or, well, himself. If it really bothers you for the unarmored robot, though, you can fold a panel up and collapse the shin Combiner Wars-style. It's a step that's necessary for vehicle mode (more on that in a bit), but the practical result is that the leg will have the same proportions as the original, with the upper knee joint being in the same spot as the original's knee. With the knee panels flipped up but the leg still fully extended you can armor the figures up exactly as you normally would. While the smaller robots look a bit better with the longer legs the armored robots is a huge improvement with much more proportional thighs and a resulting lower knee bend. It's not perfect, though. DNA used the same plastic for the clips on the legs as they used for the rest of the figure, while Hasbro used a different plastic with more flex. The result is that it took more force for get the boots on the first time, and pushing them on ground the nubs on the clips down enough that the connection is less secure than the original legs. On Magnus in particular I kept knocking the boots off while manipulating his legs. The added weapons are a nice touch, even if I could have lived without them. Ever since Transformers Animated hammers are apparently Magnus' thing. This hammer is fairly reminiscent of Solus' hammer that Magnus used in Transformers Prime, although it feels a bit small here. It looks likes like Magnus is going to bash some 'Cons and more like he's getting ready to do some carpentry. The axe is a bit more proportional. For Magnus, both weapons can fold up and plug into the sides of his gun, then the whole thing can plug into Magnus' back for storage. Things are a bit more interesting for Prime. The silver bits attach to Prime's back cannons by wedging in near the tips. You'll notice that they don't totally fill the hollow spots the way competing fillers do. This is a deliberate choice by DNA. See, their fillers are hinged. You can open them up, then store the hammer and axe in them, with the ends of the weapons filling the remaining hollow space. With or without the weapons stored inside, the fillers do cover the hollow spots that were on display when Prime has the guns folded onto his back. That's what's most important, anyway. Other leg extensions I've seen for these figures have either needed to be removed to transform the figures to alt mode, or they've changed the proportions of the alt mode (negatively, in my opinion). I've already talked about how DNA designed their new legs to collapse, restoring the legs to their original proportions. But they did one other thing that impacts the alt mode- they put one of the tires on his legs on some moving parts. See, one of the big complaints some people had with these guys was that there's a large gap between the hips and the front wheels. DNA fills that gap by moving a wheel from his leg into that spot. Of course, now you've got four wheels in the front and two on the back, which is a little weird, but if it bothers you then you don't have to do it. As odd as it looks on just the truck cabs, I don't think it looks as bad when they're fully transformed with their trailers. Magnus now has four wheels in the front, two in the middle, and four in the back. Unusual, but it's supposed to be a Cybertronian truck, so I'll allow it. It works even better on Prime, though. Prime's wing's cover the middle wheels, so it looks like four wheels in the front and four wheels in the back. At $20 per kit I have to say that I highly recommend them if you have these figures. They do exactly what they set out to do by fixing the leg proportions and filling the gaps on Prime's cannons, they fill the gap behind the front wheels, and they do so while giving you extra articulation and weapons. Even better, they do it in a way that gives you options instead of being all-or-nothing. Want better armored proportions but you don't want to change the size of the cab robot? You can do that. Prefer the wheels were they originally were in alt mode? You can do that. My one and only complaint is that the clips on the new legs that hold them in their armor boots aren't as effective as the ones Hasbro used.
  11. Unless one of those "accuracy" accessories is a totally different head, no thanks. I'll say this, though, the car mode on Takara's looks better than either FT's or MMC's.
  12. Seems Earthrise figures are starting hit Targets. Just not my Targets.
  13. With my family history I'll be lucky to live as long as Mr. Douglas.
  14. So I guess the news (that probably isn't really news) is that if you got an order in then you have a year to wait, and if you don't have an order in you better hope Zeta's isn't as dead as it looks.
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