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On 8/26/2020 at 4:53 PM, M'Kyuun said:

Perhaps I'll see if I can find it online somewhere. 

The first trade is free on Kindle, IIRC. The other trades aren't expensive. They're also part of the collected IDW volumes, but I haven't been super huge on a lot of the IDW plotlines outside of Wreckers/MTMTE, so mileage may vary.

Speaking of MTMTE, how about this piece of work that got teased today:

 

Edited by Rhubarbarian
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For as tiny as they are, those are some pretty respectable cassette bots. Unlike the MS versions, which are too thick, these look to retain the thinness that makes them feel more like mini-cassettes, or in this case, mini-mini-cassettes. It would have been cool if they'd included the teeth on the spindles instead of just doing circle indentations. Still, I appreciate the effort. Tempted by this set. 

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TFSource and Chosen Prime have it for $70. Chosen Prime are offering two versions: Scaramanga (Blue Soundwave), which comes with Laserbeak, Rumble (blue), and Ravage, and Dr. No (black Soundwave/Soundblaster) which comes with Buzzsaw, Frenzy (red) and Ratbat. 

TFSource is only offering Scaramanga.

Hopefully an early review of the NewAge fig will come out soon. I'm curious how it compares to the Magic Square. Already, the MS cassettes in bot mode are more complex and articulated, but they seem to have rather thick and unconvincing cassette modes, and per Skullface's review, they're difficult to remove once you put them in Soundwave's chest. The NA's, while not as refined or articulated in cassette mode, appear to to form thinner, more convincing, albeit not perfect, looking cassettes. For now, I'm on the fence.

Edited by M'Kyuun
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My invoice just dropped for Big FireBird's Nicee. I'm looking forward to this fgure. Arcee is notoriously difficult to get right, and although this is a very stylish take, I'm curious to see how the engineering works. If anything, the accentuated nature of Nicee would have proved more challenging than just a straight G1 Arcee.

A bunch of my other POs are becoming available or shipping, too. September is going to be an expensive month.

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52 minutes ago, M'Kyuun said:

My invoice just dropped for Big FireBird's Nicee. I'm looking forward to this fgure. Arcee is notoriously difficult to get right, and although this is a very stylish take, I'm curious to see how the engineering works. If anything, the accentuated nature of Nicee would have proved more challenging than just a straight G1 Arcee.

A bunch of my other POs are becoming available or shipping, too. September is going to be an expensive month.

Its a shame Nicee doesn't come with the Arcee head anymore. Maybe it will come out as an add-on kit by another company one of these days. 

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Really? Wasn't aware of that.  Shame, as that was kinda the point, to provide an alternate take. The other head looked nice, too, though.

But yeah, it'd be cool f they released it as an add-on. 

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10 hours ago, M'Kyuun said:

Really? Wasn't aware of that.  Shame, as that was kinda the point, to provide an alternate take. The other head looked nice, too, though.

But yeah, it'd be cool f they released it as an add-on. 

Yeah it's kind of bummer. It makes sense though because the company wants to make officially licensed products so they can't be stepping on anyone's toes. 

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It's unfortunate that Hasbro is unwilling to sell a Transformers license to an entity that wants to make transforming toys, keeping that salient feature to themselves. In this case, as with so many third parties, given the level of creativity they bring to the table, not to mention unique style, it would offer more to fans under the official banner. I can understand if they forbid straight-up faithful G1 designs; that's their bailiwick. But stuff like Nicee or Cang Toys' G1 characters with beast mode alts, or many of the comics inspired designs that HasTak seem to have little interest in doing are opportunities where Hasbro could benefit from granting a license without getting their toes stepped on. 

Then again, who knows what kind of regulations and limits Hasbro would put upon them if they did. It might not be worth the bother for the outside company. It's a shame, though. There's a lot of brilliance on the part of these companies. My collection benefits.

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8 minutes ago, M'Kyuun said:

It's unfortunate that Hasbro is unwilling to sell a Transformers license to an entity that wants to make transforming toys, keeping that salient feature to themselves. In this case, as with so many third parties, given the level of creativity they bring to the table, not to mention unique style, it would offer more to fans under the official banner. I can understand if they forbid straight-up faithful G1 designs; that's their bailiwick. But stuff like Nicee or Cang Toys' G1 characters with beast mode alts, or many of the comics inspired designs that HasTak seem to have little interest in doing are opportunities where Hasbro could benefit from granting a license without getting their toes stepped on. 

Then again, who knows what kind of regulations and limits Hasbro would put upon them if they did. It might not be worth the bother for the outside company. It's a shame, though. There's a lot of brilliance on the part of these companies. My collection benefits.

To make matters worse, apparently Hasbro China/Asia hired a former Disney guy and they seem a bit more aggressive about enforcing copyrights.  Apparently Unique Toys have said that they're going to finish the work on their Age of Extinction Galvatron and then they're out.

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We may be seeing the end of a golden age of TF collecting, especially if they're going after these companies with a vengeance (and a sizeable posse of corporate attorneys). On one hand, I can sympathize with Hasbro, but on the other, I lament the lack of options once all these third parties have been shut down or just quit before they become legal fodder. At this point, most of my MP collection is third party, so I'll definitely suffer the loss of options, especially since the official toys of late haven't really appealed to me. I'm sure I'm not alone.

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That's a nice little Soundwave. I had this PO'd, then canxed it. Reconsidering...:lol:

I really don't want to get caught up in the legends collecting game- I'm already collecting Generations main line, MP (or 3p equivalents), the occasional Cyberverse fig that appeals, and a handful of legends figs, mostly NewAge. For their sizes, these things are wonderfully done, regardless of whether you favor MS or NA, the two top contenders these days. I tend towards the NA designs, but I've bought from both companies, and I'm happy with everything I've gotten. I get the appeal; I just have no space for yet another collection. Stuff gets expensive, too.

That said, I'm on the fence for Soundwave; both Soundwave figs do the character justice; for me it comes down to the cassettes and MS did a pretty good job with the bot modes, but the cassette modes are barely recognizable as such. But most folks are probably going to have theirs in bot mode most of the time anyway, so I understand the decision to favor the bot modes. NewAge seems to have sought more of a balance between modes, as you can see with Rumble in that pic. A little stylized, but fairly well articulated for its size (smaller even than Magic Square's which are small compared to the Siege cassettes).  NA's assume a slightly more convincing mini-cassette than the MS. but the MS have more accurate bot modes with superior articulation. Its a conundrum.

I'm tempted to get MS's stand alone cassette team, and NA's Soundwave. Best of both, I guess.

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Alright, so awhile back I reviewed Nonnef's upgrade kit for Earthrise Optimus.  However, I'd actually sought out a Roller before Nonnef had announced anything, and by the time that Roller arrived the company that made it was offering a second upgrade kit that I'd preordered.  I'd held off reviewing that first kit with Roller, which arrived back in May, because I figured I'd review both kits at the same time.  Then I kind of forgot about the second kit, which showed up out of the blue today.  So this is the ZXB-01 kit, parts A and B.

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The 01A kit is just Roller and some guns that go in the 5mm ports on the front of the drone.  Roller is a bit smaller than Nonnef's, but I thought Nonnef's was too big and this one seems a more appropriate size.  As with many of the newer Chinese upgrade kits the ZXB-01 kit is 3D printed.  You might initially think that'd give Nonnef's kit, which is injection-molded, a clear advantage.  However, you have to look pretty closely to see the print lines, and before you notice them you'll probably notice that the ZXB parts have better details, parts that fit together better, and it uses screws and rivets instead of working like cheap snap kit.

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There are definite headlights on the ZXB Roller instead of a nasty sprue mark and a huge seam where the parts don't fit exactly.  The treads on the tires, plus there's molded details on the hood and the seats and even the undercarriage of the ZXB Roller.

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Same thing from the rear, better molded detail and no weird gaps where the parts didn't quite fit.  And again, rivets in the tires.  If it's not clear by now, I think the ZXB Roller is far superior to Nonnef's.  However, Nonnef's did come with a bunch more stuff.  Which, I suppose, is where the 01B kit comes in.

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The 01B kit contains a number of parts, some of which Nonnef's kit covered, some of which it didn't.  You get an Energon axe and holder, a trailer part for Roller, new fenders, new stabilizer arms, some gap fillers for the back of the drone in the trailer (one of which has an antenna), and some window decals for the drone.  I didn't mess with the decals, since I'd already painted my drone and used the Toyhax labels for its windows, but I think they might actually be waterslides.

We'll start with the outside of the trailer.  The stabilizers in the ZXB kit are shorter and thicker than the Nonnef, with a silver-painted grate over them.  Unlike Nonnef's, where you had to flip the feet over to deploy them, the feet on the ZXB kit slide in and out.

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They attach to the trailer in the same way as the Nonnef kit, by plugging them into the 5mm ports under the trailer.  Meanwhile, the fenders also attach the same way.  You have to remove the wheels to get the clearance you need, then they push up into gaps in the trailer's molding.  Unlike Nonnef's kit the wheels can go back on and screw all the way in flush, so big time points there.  I personally think they blend with the trailer's existing molding better, have better molded detail that Nonnef's, and they even add a new 5mm port to each side.

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The stabilizers swing out the same as Nonnef's, and the extended feet seem to be the same height as the trailer's landing gear.  The only real drawback in using them over Nonnef's is that the bumper from Nonnef's kit actually attaches to the fender.  You can still stick it over the thin pieces sticking out from the trailer's original fenders, but it won't take much to knock it back off.

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In case you're curious, you'll remember that since you couldn't screw the wheels all the way back in on Nonnef's kit that the trailer sat ever so-slightly higher.  That difference was negated at the other end by the part that moved the trailer's peg up so it didn't sit so close to the cab.  Well, here's the ZXB kit with and without Nonnef's trailer connector.  It does push the front of the trailer up a little, but it's less noticeable in person than this picture makes it out to be.

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Inside the trailer, you can see the ZXB-01A guns in the drone, and the back filler parts (which I painted to match the drone) with the new antenna.  This solution works better, I think, than Nonnef's for the antenna, except for one tiny issue.  See, the antenna is pinned into the filler part so it can fold down.  After I painted it, though, the part of the antenna the pin went through crumbled while I was pulling the masking tape off.  Fortunately, the drone is small enough and sits low enough that the antenna doesn't need to fold down, so I used an epoxy to glue it back in place (more on the epoxy in a minute).

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Now, you see the peg in front of the drone that doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose (except maybe pegging Prime's heel into it)?  You can use it to attach the black Roller part, with the holes facing forward.

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The part isn't spring-loaded, sadly, but the pegs on the back of Roller slide into it just the same.  There's just enough room so that the drone can still fold up and lie down with the guns from the 01A kit laying over it but not pushing Roller off of it.

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Which just leaves us with the axe.  The plastic isn't as translucent as injection-molded stuff, but I rather like the effect it does have.  To use it, you have to pull it off the gray part and fold Prime's hand in like you're going to truck mode.  There's just a bit of space between the base of his wrist and the red plastic of his forearm that you can slide the axe into.  And you'll note the pin; the axe is hinged through the round part.  Why?  Well, I guess it goes back to the gray part.  There's no pictures on the website or instructions that really say what to do with it, but my best guess is that you can stick it into one of the peg holes inside the trailer, then slide the axe back into it, bending at the hinge as necessary, to stow the whole thing inside the trailer.  Which is a very nice touch.

So here's the thing... everything that the ZXB-01 kits do that Nonnef did, ZXB did better.  Better Roller, better guns, better antenna, better fenders, better stabilizers, plus you get gap fillers, a part for docking Roller in the trailer, and an Energon axe that Nonnef's kit didn't have.  But, and this is a big but, you don't get the new trailer bumper, trailer door, and consoles for inside the trailer, and the fuel can and hose.  So Nonnef's kit, which is cheaper than the combined price of the two ZXB kits, checks more of the essential boxes even if it doesn't do as good a job.  So I think, for most users, the Nonnef kit is enough (especially if you're getting the Hasbro Centurion).  The only way I can really recommend the ZXB kits if is you really want Prime and his trailer looking their best so you get the ZXB kits and Nonnef's, then you do what I'm going to end up doing- using Nonnef's consoles, trailer door, bumper, fuel tank, and cab connector but replacing the rest of Nonnef's parts with ZXBs.

Which is where that epoxy comes in again.  I'm going to try to glue the bumper part onto the fins and hope that's a solid enough connect that I don't need Nonnef's fenders.

Oh, and while I'm at it... I painted the ZXB fenders blue to match the wheel parts I'd already painted.  Then I ordered another set of Toyhax labels, pulled all the ones I'd put on the trailer off, popped the sides of the trailer off, along with Nonnef's trailer door and bumper, and I painted them silver. so there's no longer a mismatch in color.  When the new labels come I'll redo them on the trailer.

Also while I'm at it... I ordered yet another upgrade kit for this figure.  This time it's a part that fits into the 5mm port on Prime's back, giving him a slightly larger backpack, but it unfolds to fill in the gap between his arms in truck mode (the one where his folded-up gun might sit, if I were using it instead of a better-proportioned ion rifle that I just store in the trailer when he's in truck mode).  Between upgrade kits and Reprolabels I think ER Prime has cost me more than MP-10 did back in the day...

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I was thinking your ER Prime was becoming quite the expensive figure, and then I read your last sentence. But y'know, this is probably the last time for a long time that we're going to get a G1 Optimus that is this well done. I've already sunk more time and money into mine than I ever have for any Transformer figure I've owned, and after 35+ years of collecting, I have a few.  Guess what I'm saying is, if you're going to put improvement efforts into any figure, ER Prime stands out as a worthy candidate.

On that note, your efforts have certainly enhanced the figure overall. Looks great! I invested in the Nonnef trailer kit after seeing your previous reviews, and I don't mind the fenders, although I hear you on the non-flush point, and the swing-out sections to support the trailer, although, having to swap the little support feet takes something away from the experience. I'm not sure why he couldn't figure out how to make them rotate into position, but he didn't, so in the spirit of Earthrise, it's just one more parts-forming element to contend with.-_- C'est la vie.  This new kit looks pretty good, and I like that the trailer supports are shortened to allow for natural clearance for the trailer. I'm not sure I trust the integrity of 3D printed stuff over injection molded over time. Having said that, the parts themselves look nice, especially that Roller.

I bought the Centurion Drone Weaponizer Pack from Pulse, so that'll give me a better, and official, Roller in lieu of Nonnef's mediocre attempt. I'm surprised, and a little dismayed, that more accessories to complete Prime's trailer don't come with that set, but perhaps they have similar releases planned, so they may just dole them out piecemeal. Sounds like a Hasbro tactic.:rolleyes: 

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So if you guys weren't aware, TFSource recently held a customer appreciation sale.  I took advantage of it to pick up a figure that was released something like four years ago that I just never got around to as my collecting priorities shifted despite owning all the other figures in the line (excluding repaints).  This is Fansproject's Function-X Browning II, aka Highbrow.

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My first thought was that Browning's head is too light.  The G1 toy and Sunbow cartoon definitely had most of his head being a slightly darker gray than the lighter colors on his forearms and thighs, but it wasn't nearly as dark as The Headmasters anime.  And in the Marvel comics his head did match his forearms and thighs, so it's a wash, I guess.  

From the waist up I don't have a ton of complaints.  Yeah, he's stylized, but that's Fansproject's MO and this isn't meant to be an MP, so I'm cool with it.  He's got a dynamic silhouette, better proportions than the Titans Return Highbrown, and even some painted details on his torso and shoulders where the G1 toy had stickers.  From the waist down, though, he's noticeably asymmetric.  He's got different molded details on his feet and the bottoms of his shins, and one his his knees is mostly blue with a gun barrel pointing off of it while the other is an entirely gray spike.

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The asymmetry carries over to the back as well, with different molded details on his thighs, a big vent on his left calf but a flat right calf, and another spike on his left heel but a pair of wheels on the other.  This asymmetry was a sore spot for some collectors, but it honestly doesn't bother me all that much.  And I do appreciate how much cleaner his back his, how his rotors fold up onto the backs of his forearms, and how his calves aren't hollow like the official.

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Moving along... Browning comes with a pair of guns and his Headmaster buddy.  I gotta say, compared to the other Headmasters in the Function-X line Browning's seems a bit unpainted.  If they were going for G1 accuracy the front of his arms and his thighs should have been blue.  And while the torso and helmet are supposed to match the color of Highbrow's helmet it sill would have been nice if they at least painted the Headmaster's face and eyes.

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Now, in the Marvel comics, the Sunbow cartoon, and The Headmasters anime Highbrow had a visor, but if you go back to the G1 toy it actually had two separate eyes.  One thing I really like about Browning is that Fansproject went both ways.  His molded face has two painted blue eyes, but there's a translucent piece that you can either store in his forehead or bring down over his eyes to give him his visor.

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Browning's head works like many of the other Function-X figures. The socket the Headmaster plugs into can turn, so his head can swivel, and it can tilt in one direction.  Out of the box that means he can look down, but if you turn the socket 180 degrees then plug the head in it'll be able to look up instead.  Shoulders rotate on soft ratchets, and they can move about 90 degrees on friction hinges.  His biceps swivel, and his elbows can bend over 90 degrees.  His wrists can swivel.  His waist swivel as well, but no ab crunch.  His hips move 90 degrees forward, backward, or laterally on ratchets all around.  His thighs can swivel.  Both knees bend around 150 degrees on ratchets.  His right foot can tilt up quite a bit, slightly down, and his ankle can pivot around 30 degrees, all on hinges.  His left foot, though, is on a ball joint.  It can tilt up, down, and pivot 30 degrees as well as swivel.

The handles of his guns are pegs, and they just slide into his fists.  They're a bit smaller than your usual 5mm pegs, though.

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Browning's helicopter mode is a bit of a mixed bag.  It's not particularly G1 accurate, eschewing the fat tail of both the G1 toy and the Titans Return version for something more akin to an actual helicopter tail boom.  And, as if sensing that fans saw the Function-X Mindwipe and and Skullcruncher as being a bit underwhelming after the impressive origami that went into their Chromedome and Brainstorm, it seems Fansproject tried to approach Browning with an ambitious design that turned one leg into the tail boom while the other split apart to form most of the cockpit.  Unfortunately, the result seems like they rushed it out without refining it, with big gaps on the nose and smaller ones in the tail.

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In fact, the wheels that were in the back of Browning's one heel end up just under the canopy, as if they're meant to be landing gear.  But, even though I think they could have worked some in had they made the vent on his other calf a flap, there's no other landing gear anywhere on him, so nothing prevents him from tipping back onto his tail.  The instructions even show the finished alt mode with it's tail perched on a detailed box that is NOT an accessory that Browning comes with.

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The nose gun is a nice touch, though, and I dig the shape of the rotors.  His guns actually clip into his wings instead of pegging, using small pegs on the sights to fit through loops under the wings then lifting the handles backward to close the connection.  And as always the canopy does open so his Headmaster buddy can sit inside.

Browning II isn't a great figure.  Indeed, while I do think he's a bit better than their Skullcruncher I'd still rank him below the rest of the Headmasters in the Function-X line.  It's a shame, too, because I think they had some really good ideas, I just think this design needed a little bit more refinement before they pushed it out.  If I'd have payed full price for him new back in the day I might have been harder on him and I'd probably not recommend him.  Today, though, at $40, I think he's a much better figure than the Titans Return version, which I think is true for the Function-X line in general.  That ultimately makes this a bittersweet figure, one that recalls to me the highs of Fansproject's Function-X line while also leaving me disappointed that Fansproject didn't at least get a Highbrow out to complete the main seven Headmasters (to say nothing of the fact that they had a design for an Apeface that, on paper at least, looked much better than what we got with Siege (or even arguably KFC's Kingorilla).

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I was so blown away by Function X Code and Smart Robin, and so utterly disappointed by the other Headmasters.  Fansproject is still my favourite company for nostalgia reasons, but there's no denying that they've been overtaken and eclipsed by many other 3P companies.

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4 minutes ago, CoryHolmes said:

I was so blown away by Function X Code and Smart Robin, and so utterly disappointed by the other Headmasters.  Fansproject is still my favourite company for nostalgia reasons, but there's no denying that they've been overtaken and eclipsed by many other 3P companies.

He was less impressive, but I thought their Weirdwolf was good for the time.  Their Mindwipe wasn't nearly as innovative in the engineering, but I loved how they went all-in on the vampire motif.  The Headmaster cockpit on the bat mode was even styled to look like a coffin!

But yeah, their Skullcruncher was extremely meh.  And you can tell from the way they designed his chest that they were planning on that Optimus repaint from the start.

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I hope all you guys geeking out over what Newage is up to still have room in your hearts for something a little more MP-scale.  This is one I've been excited for because the Combaticons are my favorite combiner team, MMC's been doing the best Combaticons so far, and this one's the last member of the team.  It's Ocular Max Probus, their MP Brawl.

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One of the neat things about this set has been how MMC's been able to make each of these guys a little different in size.  MMC's Swindle, for example, was about the same size as UT's Swindle, who was the same size as their Brawl.  Zeta's Swindle dwarfed MMC's, and was also the same size as their Brawl.  But Probus here isn't the same size as their Swindle.  Probus is, in fact, even bigger than Zeta's Brawl.

I'm finding the comparison between Probus and Zeta's Brawl to be more interesting than the previous ones.  While Zeta's Swindle, Blast Off, and Vortex were panely, kibbly figures (two of them with totally inaccurate alt modes) Zeta's Brawl is actually pretty toy accurate.  MMC's, meanwhile, is extremely cartoon accurate, even more so than UT's.  He's got a gray head with a maroon mask, a big orange visor, and some subtle orange details around his forehead.  He's got the tread shoulders.  Like Zeta's and the G1 toy his chest is part of the front of the tank, but MMC managed to flatten it into the cartoon shape, complete with squarish bumps, vents, and the chaff launchers on the sides.  His waist, pelvis, and thighs, and most of his forearms are gray, save the for the black hexagon on his belly button and some black around his forearms that I think MMC might have meant to paint (an earlier sample had them gray), but ultimately didn't for whatever reason.  He's got the circles on both shins and some of the vents.  And rather than the dark green of the G1 toy or Zeta's Brawl Probus is a very olive green.  Any browner and he'd be khaki.

(Note that he might appear somewhat khaki in these photos- I can't control the post-processing my camera does.  All I can say is that my monitor is supposed to be an extremely color-accurate monitor, and if I bring up images of the Sunbow art and hold Probus up to my monitor the colors are extremely close.)

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Probus comes with a few accessories.  There's a chunk of... thing.  There's his main gun, which is looking nice and cartoon-accurate.  There's a pair of cannons.  There's one replacement combiner shoulder ratchet for Incursus (Onslaught).  Not sure why they didn't include two so you can replace both; MMC indicated that it's for the Volatus (Blast Off) side, but (spoilers) both sides are a little looser than I'd prefer, and it might just be the Incursus (Vortex) side that's the worse side.  I digress.  Finally, there's one new head for Fraudo (Swindle).  The new head is mean to correct an error on both of Fraudo's original head, where his nose guard was painted to match his face instead of matching the rest of his helmet.  Interestingly, while the new head does indeed correct that error, I guess MMC figured that some people would have just removed the paint on the original heads on their own, so they took to the opportunity to actually mold a new face.  The difference is subtle, but you can see the original (left) has a smiling face (or stoic), while the new head (right) has more of a smirk.

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Probus' articulation is pretty good, as we've come to expect with this set.  His head is on a ball joint and he can look up and down maybe 30 degrees, he can tilt his head to the side, and it can of course swivel.  His shoulders rotate, and a series of hinges do allow him to get them to 90 degrees laterally (assuming his arms are going straight from his side; if his shoulders are rotated they'll start to bang into the turret on his back, but we're still talking an acceptable 60 degrees or so).  His biceps swivel, and his elbows bend 90 degrees.  His wrists swivel.  Each finger can move individually, but they're molded into a curl and just have the one hinge at the base knuckle, while his thumb is on a ball joint at the base.  His waist can swivel.  A button on his back even allows the turret to pop out from his back a bit, ensuring that it clears his hips and doesn't impede the waist swivel.  He has a fairly deep ab crunch.  His hips can go forward 90 degrees and backward about 45 on ratchets (the turret is in the way).  They can also go 90 degrees laterally on friction hinges.  His thighs swivel.  His knees can bend 90 degrees.  As you bend the knee it'll push out a flap on the back of his leg, which is nice because his range isn't limited but there aren't any ugly gaps on the back of his leg, either.   His feet can tilt up an down slightly, and pivot about 30 degrees.

Probus' gun has a handle with a tab pointed backward at the base of the handle.  The tab fits into a slot on Probus' palm, no muss no fuss.

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If you rotate the turret 180 degrees on his back and lift a small flap on the back you'll see an indent with a little tab in it.  The chunk of thing will fit into the indent, then you can plug the two cannons into the holes on the side.  Note that you'll have to untab the turret from his back to have the clearance for the chunk behind his head, but it's still a way to incorporate all his accessories in his robot mode.

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On to the tank mode!  Probus might be slightly smaller than Zeta's Brawl in this mode, but it's pretty close.  Either way he dwarfs UT's.  The transformation is quite simple and straightforward, perhaps more than any other figure in the set, which makes Probus one of the most fun to mess with in my book.

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Again, I find the comparison with Zeta's to be extra interesting.  While MMC did try to copy the Sunbow models for the robot modes, for the alt modes MMC tried to give their Combaticons realistic representations of the alt modes the G1 toys were based on.  In Probus' case that meant eschewing the somewhat Centurion-ish animation model for a Leopard 1 tank (maybe someone like David could tell you which variant; I only know enough about tanks to say that the skirting means it's at least a 1A1).  And again, while Zeta seemed happy to give their Swindle a humvee alt mode and Vortex a totally different helicopter, Zeta also managed to correctly give their Brawl a Leopard 1 alt mode.  It's interesting to see how similar they are with the dual antenna, the smoke launchers on the sides of the turret, the twin hatches on the turret, the drivers hatch on the front, the headlights on the front, the exhaust grills on the sides at the rear, etc.  But they have little differences, too, like Probus has the rear view mirrors, Probus has a periscope in front of the commander's hatch while Zeta seems to have a smaller one with some kind of railing around it.  Zeta's has the loader's periscope in front of the loader's hatch, while Probus instead has a 5mm port.  Generally speaking Probus is a little shorter than Zeta's, with a larger angled section containing a number of tool boxes (neither have a visible pickaxe or shovel, though).  Probus has more details on his rear, but also has a gap with some visible hinges on the top near the rear.

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You can better see the gap from this angle.

Also from this angle, you can see that the turret can rotate (on a ratchet, no less).  The barrel can move up and down a bit.  Both hatches on the turret can open, and the periscope in front of the commander's hatch can swivel.  Unlike Zeta's Brawl Probus does not have working treads (which, if you've handled Zeta's Brawl, you'll know the lack of working treads is actually a good thing).  He does have little wheels on the underside, though, so he can roll.

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If you fold in the handle of Probus' gun you'll be left with a 5mm peg.  That peg, naturally, fits into the 5mm port in front of the loader's hatch.  While the gun is pretty cartoon-accurate, it's also designed to look like a machine gun that might actually be mounted on a tank like this, which is cool.  

Now, the G1 toy had another double-barreled gun that plugged in behind the turret, and that double-barreled gun was part of the alt mode on the animation model.  MMC didn't leave that part out.  The chunk with the cannons we plugged into it has flaps on the side that fold down.  The entire thing plugs onto the back of the tank, filling in the gap quite neatly.

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Since I showed off the other limb modes already due to the "all built-in" gimmick MMC's been pushing with this set here's Probus' leg mode.  The built-in foot is formed from his own robot feet in a manner very similar to Fraudo's (Swindle).  The conversion from tank to leg is as simple and straightforward as the conversion from tank to robot or robot to tank, and unlike most modern takes on Brawl (save Zeta's) it does include the bent top half of the tank.  And once again, despite the similar tank and leg modes between Probus and Zeta's Brawl it's interesting to see how different the engineering is for both figures.

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Love it or hate it, "all built-in" is MMC's big selling point on this set, and naturally that includes accessories.  Probus' gun can plug into the same 5mm port you used for it in tank mode.  Meanwhile, there are a pair of slots on the back of the leg mode.  These slots happen to correspond to a pair of tabs on the base of the double-barreled gun.  If it seems loose and falls out push it in harder; you'll hear it when it snaps into place, and when it does the connection is solid.

MMC really ended this set on a high note.  Probus is an excellent Sunbow representation of Brawl that turns into a realistic Leopard 1 tank.  The accessories are appropriate and can be used in all modes, even leg mode. Probus has plenty of articulation for a bruiser like Brawl and the transformation is easy and fun.  And the icing on the cake is that there's almost no compromises or concessions on the robot or tank modes to the fact that he also has to transform into a combiner limb, let alone to the all built-in gimmick.  In short, Probus is the best of the five in MMC's set and really an outstanding figure all on it's own, one that will likely be in my running for figure of the year.  Even if you're not in on any of the other four I highly recommend Probus as a stand-alone MP Brawl.

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Oh yeah.  With all five members in hand and no additional partsforming trailers needed *cough all five XTB Stunticons since February cough cough still can't build Menasor cough* we can put these guys together.  Start by putting everyone into their combined modes.

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Now, you'll recall from my Incursus (Onslaught) review that I bought the upgrade kit for this set.  If you're using it take the silver boxes and transform them as above.  They fit over the built-in feet by sliding the edge where the individual robot feet meet into the u-shaped gap in the middle of the shoe.  The upraised bits at the back will tab into slots on the heel.  The fold the front up in a way that the one pin hinge sits above the other, not in front, and the sides will fold it and tab into the sides of the toes.

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Now, to connect Probus (Brawl), bend the connector port back and slide it into the groove in the top of Probus.  Straighten the gestalt thigh, sliding over the gray upraised bit, then lock it down by tabbing the two tabs on the front of Probus into slots on Incursus' toe.

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You're basically doing the same thing for Fraudo (Swindle), but you have to open him up a little to get the clearance to slide in the combiner port.

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Connecting the arms is easy, and works the same on both arms.  Lift the switch on Incursus' port, then slide in the forked connector on the arm bot.  Pushing the switch back in will lock them in place.

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And here we have Assaultus, MMC's finished Bruticus.  A part of me wants to say "we finally have," but honestly MMC was pretty quick with this one.  It only took them about a year from the first release to the last one.  In the same time period Fans Toys has released three Stunticons and three Aerialbots, and despite a one-year head start neither DX9 nor XTB have finished their Menasor.  But I digress.

Assaultus is, without question, the best-looking Bruticus I've seen.  People talk about how pantsforming improves a combiner's proportions, but Assaultus has longer thighs than Zeta's Bruticus, and Assaultus is the only one whose fingers don't reach all the way down to his knees.  True, he does have T-shaped torso with a broad chest and narrow waist, plus wider hips, and while that might not match Sunbow Bruticus' gently tapered torso it's the spot-on shape of toy/Studio OX Bruticus, my preferred Bruticus.  Likewise, while some of you may prefer the cartoony head and chest painted like Blast Off's cockpit that Incursus originally came with I absolutely adore the silver-painted chest and dead-on Studio OX head that came with the upgrade kit.  Of the seven Bruticus figures I have now Assaultus is one of only two that has the arm connection on the top of the shuttle, one of only two that has the front of the tank leg bent over, and the only one since the G1 toy that does both.  There's little in the way of folded-up kibble, Fraudo (Swindle) manages to turn into a yellow rectangle with a purple stripe like the cartoon despite being a jeep, and the alt modes of the other three limbs avoid being stylized like almost every other version.  Now, if you want a 100% Sunbow-accurate Bruticus it's possibly someone like DX9, XTB, or Fans Toys could still come along and do better.  Likewise, a 100% toy-style set might have a more toy-accurate Swindle leg.  But the fact is, at the time of writing, Assaultus is the most accurate, best-proportioned Bruticus you can buy.  And it's even more impressive when you realize that's the case even with his hands, head, chest and pelvis armor, and most of his feet built into the individual members.  The only parts I added, which aren't even required, are the shoes.

Now, I feel like size is going to be contentious issue for this set.  For a lot of people ToyWorld's Constructor seems to have set the unofficial standard for an MP-scaled combiner at roughly 20".  Zeta continued that with their Superion and Bruticus, DX9's Menasor in the same size, and it's expected that XTB's Menasor and both of Fans Toys' combiners will hit that mark as well.  Even with the add-on shoes Assaultus misses that 20" mark, standing right around the same size as Unique Toys' Bruticus and, for that matter, HasTak's Titan Devastator and Predaking (as well as some KOs like Jinbao's Feral Rex, Jinbao's Gravity Builder, and Ju Jiang's Superion).  Now, I've said it before and I'll say it again, until Takara releases a combiner in the official MP line there is no definitive standard.  Devastator's appearance on the Decepticon line of the Sunbow scale chart suggests that Megatron should come up to around Devastator's knee.  On the same page he appears on a line with Omega Supreme and Optimus Prime, and Prime comes up to Devastator's waist.  A third chart made for The Headmasters has Prime and Galvatron at the top of Raiden, Devastator, and Predaking's shins, right below their knee.  So if you prefer the size of Zeta's Bruticus official materials will back you up.  However, the same materials suggest that MMC isn't necessarily wrong at this size.  Ultimately, it may come down to your display preferences.  If you think all combiners should be the same size and you're planning on displaying a Bruticus right next to Constructor and/or one of the Menasors then you might think Assaultus looks too short.

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However, if you put some space between them and blend in other MP figures like Starscream (or Meteor, as it were) I don't think this looks bad at all.  Starscream is roughly knee-high here, and Prime or Megatron would be a little below the hip.  Alternatively, you could stick him with your War for Cybertron Trilogy figures if you like the Headmasters scale.

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After all, Assaultus looks much better than the Combiner Wars Bruticus.  As I said, he even beats out my second-favorite Bruticus, Iron Factory's War Giant.

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So, Assaultus' head can swivel and he can look up, but due to the way his head encapsulate's Incursus' he can't look down at all.  His shoulders rotate on ratchets that are just tight enough to hold a pose, but loose enough that a shake or a tap will cause his arms to drop.  His shoulders can move laterally on ratchets, too, but unfortunately the lateral joint is on the torso side of the rotation, not the arm side.  His biceps swivel.  Both arms can bend 90 degrees on ratchets at the elbow.  The Impetus (Vortex) arm can actually use his own hip joints to bend the elbow a little further, but Volatus' (Blast Off) hip skirt design keeps the hip joint trapped.  Both wrists can rotate, but due to the "all built-in" gimmick they can't rotate 360 degrees.  They can go from palms flat down to palms halfway turned up.  Each finger is individually articulated with pins at the base, middle, and upper knuckle.  The thumb has hinged ball joint at the base plus two knuckle hinges, giving his thumbs quite a bit of range.  He's got a ratcheted waist swivel and even an ab crunch.  His hips can go 90 degrees forward, 45 degrees backward, and 60 degrees laterally, all on ratchets that are, again, too loose for my tastes.  He's not going to start doing the splits or collapse under his own weight when you pose him with both feet on the ground, which will likely be most of the time, but the joints do not support the weight of limbs for kicking or anything like that.  He's got ratcheted thigh swivels, and ratcheted knees that bend 90 degrees and, like his hips, will support him in a bent-knee pose but do not support the weight of the limb.  Finally, as his feet are essentially Fraudo and Probus', they have a little up/down tilt and ankle pivots of around 30 degrees.  Because they're friction joints you need to watch out a little for leaning in the ankles, but on the whole he's better balanced, more stable, and with sturdier limb connections than many combiners included Zeta's Bruticus.

The OX-style gun that came with the upgrade kit has a larger handle with a tab that fits into Assaultus' palm.

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If you don't have the upgrade kit Incursus' original gun works the same way.  And the tabs are on both sides, so you can technically have Assaultus dual-wield.

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A quick look at the back.  You can see how clean Assaultus is overall.  His backpack doesn't sick out any further than it has to, hugging his torso much more closely than Zeta's, Unique Toys', or Warbotron's, and even Probus' double-barreled cannons and all of Fraudo's accessories fill in cavities in the back of the legs rather than protruding from them.

Speaking of, I'll remind you that the "all built-in" gimmick doesn't just mean the combiner parts like the hands and chest armor.  It means that, aside from alternate replacement heads, all of the individual accessories are stored on Assaultus' body.  I've already pointed out Brawl's double-barreled cannons and Swindle's accessories fit in the back of the legs and Incursus' gun is meant to be Assaultus' gun as well.  And as I mentioned in Probus' review his gun can sit in the 5mm port on his turret.  You can just barely see in the above image Volatus' gun folded up in Assaultus' right elbow, and Impetus' arm guns stay on the tail of the helicopter.  Now, that just leaves Impetus' gun.  Well, if you look as Fraudo you'll note that the part that stem that holds his cannon and missile on the back of the jeep uses one peg hole to tab onto the back of Assaultus' leg, but the other is facing forward.  You can put Impetus' gun in that peg hole.  However, I kind of like to put Probus' gun there, to keep the front of Assaultus' shin a bit cleaner.  Besides, although it's not mentioned in any of the instructions it seems the designers actually did include a more official storage spot for it.

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While transforming Incursus into combined mode at some point you'll have his back cannons folded down and a door on his back opened.  You'll notice that there's two rectangular holes on it.  And, if you fold in the handle on Impetus' gun you'll find that it has two tabs that line up with those holes perfectly.

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There's enough of a gap on the part that Assaultus' head sits on and the door itself that the barrel has room to peak out.  But, with the back cannons put back into place you won't even see it from most angles.

Which brings us to the end of our journey.  We've had five releases that have ranged from good to excellent, three of which I'd definitely recommend on their own, one of which is a very good figure but faces tougher competition from a very good release by Unique Toys, and one of which suffered the most from the all built-in gimmick.  And we put them together into one fantastic gestalt that could have used stronger ratchets in the shoulders, hips, and knees.  The all built-in gimmick made for some extremely impressive engineering, but I have to confess that I'd have taken a partsforming head, chest armor, pelvis armor, and hands if it'd have improved Incursus' robot mode proportions and allowed for Volatus and Impetus to have proper ankle pivots.  With the exception of, perhaps, Probus, neither the individual Combaticons nor the combined Assaultus are perfect.  However, unless you're a display-only guy holding out for a 20" Sunbow-perfect Bruticus then I definitely recommend Assaultus with the upgrade it.  Of all the combiners I have (and I own or have owned almost all of them) Assaultus is, handily, my favorite.  Indeed, Assaultus is the only one I like enough to say that I'd buy a repaint if MMC wants to do Baldigus/Ruination.

(Special mention to TFW2005 use NameForComments for finding the storage spot for Impetus' gun in combined mode).

Edited by mikeszekely
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Thanks (as always) for the informative review, Mike.  The comparison pictures are particularly appreciated.  ^_^

8 hours ago, mikeszekely said:

If you think all combiners should be the same size and you're planning on displaying a Bruticus right next to Constructor and/or one of the Menasors then you might think Assaultus looks too short.

Even Constructor is too short, based on the typical size combiners appeared onscreen...

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...but of course, they're consistently inconsistent in their depiction at the best of times.  <_<

8 hours ago, mikeszekely said:

I don't think this looks bad at all.  Starscream is roughly knee-high here, and Prime or Megatron would be a little below the hip.  Alternatively, you could stick him with your War for Cybertron Trilogy figures if you like the Headmasters scale.

Still way off, I fear.  Sunbow scale would require absurdly large combiners, or ridiculously small Transformers...

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Even those tiny decoys look too big...!  :unsure:

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Assaultus (and frankly, every other combiner team) remains too small even for Siege or Earthrise-scale figures.  :huh:

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8 hours ago, mikeszekely said:

Ultimately, it may come down to your display preferences.

It always does, I'm afraid.  For a franchise explicitly designed to sell toys, they cheat scale so damn much it's very difficult to be satisfied with the product they're marketing.  :(

10 hours ago, mikeszekely said:

Assaultus looks much better than the Combiner Wars Bruticus.

Look who's damning with faint praise now...!   :p

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46 minutes ago, tekering said:

Even Constructor is too short, based on the typical size combiners appeared onscreen...

If we go by what's depicted on screen, then I could make an argument that Assaultus is too big and Iron Factory's is MP scale, because Bruticus is the same size as the individual Combaticons.  Who he sometimes hung out with.

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That's not a one-off mistake, either.

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Well, maybe we can agree that Bruticus and Devastator are the same size?

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But Devastator's around the same size as Soundwave, right?

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That's why the Constructicons are so tiny.

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Or, y'know, the cartoon was wildly inconsistent and riddled with errors, which is why a lot of collectors go by the scale guides Sunbow created for the show, even if the animators themselves couldn't be bothered to sticks to them.

Like I said before, it all comes down to display preferences, and chances are you can find screenshots and episodes to back whatever those preferences might be.  While I enjoying sharing my opinions here and at TFW2005 I'm a big believer of allowing others the freedom to do as they please as long as they're not harming others.  If someone wants to buy Assaultus then display him in a Legends-scale collection with Newage Starscream perched on his shoulder who am I to say that's wrong?  If episodes like "Starscream's Brigade" had an impact on your childhood memories of Bruticus then maybe you want Bruticus to be huge, and that's fine.  What I was driving at when I suggested that Assaultus looks fine with figures like Meteor/MP Starscream is that the size difference between Assaultus and Zeta's Bruticus is noticeable, but both are within the scale suggested by Sunbow's scale guide and Assaultus shouldn't necessarily be discounted just for being smaller.  Especially when MMC is planning on doing more combiners; if they all turn out as good as Assaultus I'd happily replace Constructor, Zeta's Superion, and DX9's Menasor with shorter hypothetical MMC ones.  I can't wait for them to start revealing their Defensor, who is very much not hypothetical and will be coming in 2021.

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23 minutes ago, mikeszekely said:

I can't wait for them to start revealing their Defensor, who is very much not hypothetical and will be coming in 2021.

You just made my day!  :yahoo:

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