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About mikeszekely

  • Birthday 02/03/1980

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    Pensburgh, PA
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    3P Transformers, video games, quantum gravity, hockey

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  1. So... with weird delay on Swoop, I guess Voyager-class Bumblebee Shockwave will wrap up the current wave of Studio Series figures, for now. I feel like comparisons with the Core-class figure released awhile back are inevitable, because they're really similar despite the size difference. And, yeah, I get it, they're the same character, of course they're similar. But no, I mean they're more similar than, say, Siege Leader-class Shockwave and Legacy Core-class Shockwave. But let's focus on what's different. For one, the shade of purple used for the plastic is quite a bit more blue. Honestly, though, I think my camera and lights are making it look a lot bluer than it actually is, and in-hand I think it's pretty close to the color seen in the film. You might notice that some of the light gray parts on the Core-class figure, like the feet, thighs, hips, ears, etc. are a bit darker. Again, I think my camera's not accurately capturing things, because it hand they're quite dark. Now, some parts that are supposed to be like his inner machinery are supposed to be dark, but outer armor parts like his thighs, ears, most of his feet, plus the stripes at the tops of his shins and the little trapezoid on his abs are supposed to be silver or even kind of whitish. So where's all the Voyager budget going? Some painted copper details on his biceps and forearms? Crappy-looking weathering on his thighs? There's some gunmetal accents on his shoulders and forearms, and even some purple paint on the sides of his thighs and back... but not his butt. And, again, no silver on his feet and thighs, and nothing really hiding how hollow his lower legs are. Curiously, the treads on the insides of his forearms are also not painted, and this is one of the details where the Core-class toy actually does have paint. But I wonder if that's not a more deliberate choice here, since Shockwave didn't have visible treads on his arms in the movie. Oh, so I guess we can scratch "transforming treads" off the budget. I don't know that accessories ate up the budget, either. He comes with his arm cannon, but so did the Core-class toy. The only other accessory is a rubber hose. Does the Voyager-class Shockwave have better articulation? His head swivels, no tilt. His shoulders can rotate and move nearly 90 degrees laterally. Shockwave's elbows bend 90 degrees. That's all about the same, so far. Bicep swivels? Well, Shockwave has a swivel below the elbow... but so does Mini-Wave. Shockwave doesn't actually have a real bicep swivel above the elbow, though. Mini-Wave does, and the fact that a Core-class figure can get the budget for engineering that the Voyager didn't is kind of galling. Well, at least Shockwave has wrists swivels and a waist swivel that Mini-Wave doesn't. His hips go forward, backward, and laterally about 90 degrees, a little more than what Mini-Wave got. Plus he's got thighs swivels that Mini-Wave didn't get. Shockwave's knees bend 90 degrees, which is also slightly more than Mini-Wave. Both have feet that tilt up slightly and down a significant amount (technically a little more on Mini-Wave), but only Shockwave has ankle pivots, even if they're extremely limited. I guess, yeah, Voyager-class Shockwave does have better articulation than his Core-class twin... but don't we expect more out of a $35 toy than a $10 one? A more fair comparison would really be other Voyager-class toys, where he's really at the baseline standard for most of his joints except his bicep swivel and ankle pivots, where he's well below-average. Shockwave's arm cannon uses a tab that fits into a slot on the outside of his forearm to connect, and the rubber hose has one end plugged into a hole on the cannon and the other into a hole on his back. You'll notice that it's turned 90 degrees compared to the Core-class figure. Looking around the net at concept art, movie stills, and model kits makes me think that the Voyager actually has it right, but the one and only advantage of the swivel below the bicep is that you can turn his forearm to orient the cannon like the Core-class's if you prefer. Considering the price difference between these two figures, it's honestly shocking how similar the engineering actually is. In both cases his feet fold down, he does a split, and then joints in his thighs hinge his legs back down. In both cases his chest double hinges out from his body and then under his crotch, with his legs pegging into the chest and a flap with his abs folding underneath. In both cases a joint in his mid torso rocks his upper body, head, and shoulders into the gap his chest vacated. In both cases you have to remove his arm cannon, swivel his arms so his shoulders are slightly angled behind him, turn his forearms 90 degrees, and bend his elbows a bit so the treads under his forearms touch the ground. The differences are that his hands actually fold into his forearms, there's some shifting of his calves, his arms tab into his back instead of linking with his hips, and his head tucks in while a dedicated support for the cannon folded out with his chest. The cannon itself also does a little bit of transforming, with the barrel extending, but that's really it. I'm not sure I've ever seen concept art of Shockwave's alt mode, so I can't say if it's actually more accurate. The hose is cool, and I like that his hands and face aren't visible. Those seem like improvements. But I think his feet look worse, with more of the inside of his bellbottoms exposed, and the back of his cannon is just a big hollow gap now. Shockwave's upper body doesn't lock into place as well as Mini-Wave's, but his arms get and stay in place better. All-in-all, it's kind of a wash. Shockwave's turret can swivel and you can elevate the barrel... same as the Core-class version. But, he's got wheels in his treads, now, so at least he rolls. I guess that's an upgrade. I'm coming away from Shockwave a tad disappointed. I mean, he's really not a bad The sculpt on the figure is honestly quite good, and he does have a number of paint apps, plus the translucent chest and light-piped mono-eye. I'm quite glad to have a Shockwave that's in-scale with my other Bumblebee movie figures instead of a random (and at the time, one-off) Core-class, and I think he'll look pretty darn good in a display with those figures. But, a lack of silver paint in the areas that really needed it would have been better than a few touches of copper, and it really does irk me that that couldn't have budgeted/engineered his upper arms to be two parts instead of just one so that he could have a bicep swivels when they used the kind of engineering I'm asking for on the Core-class toy. It's things like that that take what could have been a great figure and dragged him down to merely adequate. I'd say he's still worth picking up if you've been collecting the Bumblebee Studio Series figures and you're looking to complete that Cybertron battle scene, but if you haven't been collecting the other Bumblebee figures then Shockwave probably isn't the place to start. EDIT: OK, one last picture... Shockwave and Shockwave getting together so Shockwave can have a playdate with Shockwave.
  2. If for some reason you still don't have one, Siege Jetfire is getting a reissue. So is the Shattered Glass Optimus & Ratchet pack. Pulse is sold out of both already, but both can still be ordered at BBTS or Entertainment Earth. Supposedly MP-60/MPG-09 will go up for preorder at US stores tomorrow. I'll be curious to see if Pulse's official price comes out to be less than the $300 TFSource is already asking.
  3. Dollars to donuts it's the exact same voice he used for Johnny Silverhand in Cyberpunk 2077. Eh, I'll still see it when it's available for streaming. The first two were reasonably fun.
  4. So... Amazon had a lightning deal the other day, so I bought a pair of Viture One XR glasses. For the unfamiliar, they're a bit like really chunky sunglasses, but with micro OLED displays built into them. Now, they don't have compute hardware built in; out of the box they don't do anything on their own, and you'll need to use the included cable to plug it into any device that supports USB-C Display Port Alt mode. This is mostly PCs and Macs (including devices like the Steam Deck and ROG Ally), most Android phones (but weirdly, not Pixels), and iPhones and iPads that use USB-C. They make an adapter (sold separately) to use with older iPhones/iPads, and an HDMI dock with a built-in battery (sold separately) to use with things like game consoles (including the Nintendo Switch). The gist is pretty simple (mind you, I've only tested it on a Windows laptop, an ROG ally, and a Macbook Air). You plug the glasses into the device, then the glasses display a virtual screen. On both laptops the default behavior was to duplicate the desktop, on the Ally it turned off the Ally's screen. For the most part, the image is pretty good. There are buttons on one of the stems for adjusting the brightness of the virtual display, and another button that toggles the opacity of the glasses. In my living room, I was able to play Fallout 3 using the glasses, and only occasionally would I notice anything on the actual TV I was facing as my girls watched Netflix. If you need more opacity, Viture does sell a clip-on cover (again, sold separately). Viture advertises the virtual screen as 120", and... kind of? On the couch, the virtual screen definitely seemed to cover more of my field of view than the 80" screen in our living room, which I was sitting at least 15' from. But it also seemed smaller than my 27" monitor does from less than 3' away, so it's kind of relative. With the adjustable diopter settings the screen was fairly sharp. Text is mostly legible, but it can get a little blurry in the corners. In a suitably dark environment the colors are rich and vibrant, too; Fallout 3 looked better on the glasses than on my laptop's built-in screen. I'll also note that the audio from the glasses is reasonably adequate. That being said, you're probably not going to use the glasses as your main display at your desk. For one, they're limited to 1080p 60fps. If you game on PC, chances are you have a monitor that has a higher resolution, a higher refresh rate, or both. And they only create one virtual screen; you could in theory use them as a second screen, but you'll have to tilt your head way up to peak at the actual screen from under the lenses. The glasses come with multiple nose clips, and I had little trouble finding a fit that didn't slide down. The glasses are a tad too narrow for my face. Could just be that I have a big head, but other reviews I've read have mentioned it, so I think maybe Viture's engineers just have tiny heads. The stems flex out, though, and I didn't find the glasses to be uncomfortable to wear. So what's the use-case for these? The main use seems to be for people playing videogames on handheld devices like the Steam Deck and ROG Ally (this was my primary interest). Those devices don't have super high resolutions or refresh rates in the first place, and until recently weren't available with OLED screens. And sure enough, having a big OLED screen that appears to hover in front of your face beats hunching over a 7" screen in your lap. It's especially nice when you're lying it bed, because you don't have to prop your head up. The screen will float near the ceiling if that's where you're naturally facing. It's nice, too, to be near my girls when they're watching something on TV but to have my own private screen for something else if I'm not interested in whatever they're watching. I could also see them being useful if you're a road warrior. You'd have a bigger virtual display than the 14" screen that seems to be standard on a lot of thin-and-light laptops, with the added bonus that other people around you in coffee shops or airports can't see your screen. Heck, load up a phone or a tablet with your favorite video content and you'd have a better screen than the one built into the seat in front of you on an airplane (assuming the airplane screen even works) that stays in front of your eyes no matter where you turn your head. The Viture One's greatest strength might also be it's biggest weakness, though. One the one hand, by tethering it to another device the glasses themselves are small and light enough to be comfortably worn for a long time; you don't have to strap on a bulky headset like you would with the Meta Quest or Apple Vision Pro. They're nice and portable, as they come with a case that can store the glasses and the cable. But that makes them seem relatively expensive, at around $440 (though almost always on sale for under $400) on Amazon. That's like halfway between a Quest 2 and Quest 3. And if you're not moving around, if you're going to sit at a desk, you can almost certainly buy a 27" monitor with better specs. Ultimately, I think what I've done is become an early adopter for technology that will become more commonplace as it improves and comes down in price. They work pretty well for what they do and they have some interesting use-cases, sure, but they're not really game-changing enough for most people to justify dropping $400 on them. Cut that price in half, though, and I think you'd have an indispensable accessory for everyone who's played a game on a Steam Deck on their commute or for anyone who spends more time on the road than in their office.
  5. Cool, if you like expensive robots that transform for you. I'd rather they announce that they're taking preorders for Ginrai on Pulse. Also, if they don't want the mess that wave 2 was, they need to start talking about wave 3 of Legacy United.
  6. With the Leaders out of the way you might think we're done until the stragglers from the current Studio Series wave hit. But no! I've actually got a couple of repaints for you today. First up we have Studio Series 86 Voyager-class Blaster. This was one of those figures where, when it was announced, I said I wasn't going to preorder it because the original Kingdom/Legacy release was perfectly fine. When I saw it at my local Target, though, I decided to go for it. The simple fact is, the black biceps, hands, thighs, speakers, and toes, the black shoulder details where the original toy had stickers, the translucent window on his chest, and the metallic paint on Kingdom Blaster's face are all perfectly reasonable toy-accurate details... which is why there was always something nagging me as being slightly off. I didn't have Blaster as a kid, but as a counterpart to Soundwave he definitely stood out to me in the cartoon. The cartoon where he had feet that matched his shins. The cartoon where he all those black parts were barely a darker gray than his shins. The cartoon with a gray pattern on his chest. The deco changes (including both toy and cartoon accurate red circles on Blaster's ankles) are subtle, sure, but to my eyes it's the difference between nearly correct and totally correct. My only wish is that they'd used the smiling face they put on Twincast instead of the original Blaster face. Blaster comes with a similarly improved... mostly... Rewind. Gone is the translucent blue plastic, thankfully, and the paint on his torso has been tweaked slightly to make it more cartoon-accurate. His arms forearms are painted white; it's a shame they couldn't have made his biceps and thighs white, too. The one change I'm not keen on is his face. The head is the same toy-style head, but they painted his mask white. Now, white masks are more cartoon-accurate, but at the risk of contradicting my preference for an extremely cartoon Blaster, I actually prefer the toy-style heads with colored masks for Rewind and Eject. In alt mode, again the deco changes are subtle but they make a difference. Despite the extra molded dials on the Kingdom mold, only one is painted on the SS86 version. The black lines near the bottom are gone, and the red panels are painted gray to match. It's just enough to take the rather-busy Kingdom toy and make it that much more cartoon-accurate. As for Eject, it's not like he's seen as more than a blue rectangle for the brief moment between flying out of Blaster's chest and transforming into a robot, so cartoon accuracy isn't a must. Without cassette labels he's not toy accurate, either, but in that case he's no worse off than the original, but he's not translucent, so still an improvement. If you didn't pick up Blaster before, now is definitely the time, as I consider this to be the superior deco. If you already have the Kingdom/Legacy version, though, it's harder to say. For me it was worth the upgrade, but I think that's a decision you'll have to make on your own. In addition the Blaster, I've also received the Generations Selects Deluxe Autobot 5-pack. And we'll cover them from left to right as they're packaged in the box, so first up is Jazz. This isn't totally a fair comparison, since I put Reprolabels on my original SS86 Jazz (accidentally on the left), but the most apparent differences are actually no silver grill, the presence of stripes on the fenders on his legs, and a gray paint instead of silver on his face, waist, shins and feet. The stripes on the fenders are a nice addition, but I prefer the silver. I will note, however, that the newer toy has knees that lock into the shins far better than my SS86 copy. Aside from stripes on the fenders, the newer toy has some black on the spoiler. But the real, main difference is that his roof is white plastic with blue-painted windows instead of translucent blue plastic with white-painted metal. Both versions had the same incorrect "14" instead of "4." Now, I don't actually want the full racing livery, but the cartoon's over-simplified stripes never sat well with me, hence the Reprolabels on my SS86 copy. The conclusion, for me at least, is that I strongly prefer my stickered-up original toy. However, that version is known for developing cracks on the windshield, and sure enough I can see a small one developing. Should my SS86 Jazz eventually break it's nice to have a backup on hand... but I'll need to buy another set of Reprolabels. Sunstreaker's robot mode definitely strikes me as an improvement. The darker yellow seems more correct to me, and it's more consistent since his chest is now yellow with blue-painted windows instead of yellow paint on translucent plastic. Little touches of black have bene added to his shoulders, and the black (now dark gray) on his shins isn't just on the raised portion of the mechanical details, it's all the way through. Best of all, his engine isn't his only accessory now. They packed in a gun (you may recognize it as one of the two that comes with Legacy Elita-1), so you don't have to go looking for a 3rd-party gun for him. They painted the engine area of the car dark gray, which is technically more accurate, and added the Autobot badge to the hood, which is also more accurate. But they didn't solve the lack of a spoiler. Instead, they just painted the rear of the car silver. It looks kind of bad, if you ask me. My original Earthrise Sunstreaker has very clever 3P spoiler from Go Better, and it makes Sunstreaker look that much better. Even if I opted to remove it and put it on the new version it was designed to color-match the original release, making it too light for the new one, plus it won't totally cover the silver anyway. So Sunstreaker is probably an improvement, but a minor one, and not worth buying this set for. After Sunstreaker we've got Trailbreaker, and he's sort of the opposite of Sunstreaker. I noticed that Hasbro painted his shoulder missile to be more accurate, something I did myself on the original. They tweaked the deco on his hand cannon, too. I don't know, this is a tough one. Trailbreaker's one of those instances where the animation was sort of a dark gray, but I always understood that Trailbreaker was actually black. I didn't care for Takara making MP Trailbreaker gray when all the 3Ps did black ones, and my instinct is to prefer the original black Earthrise release. But then you get him into alt mode. I still like the silver and black over the gray and other gray, but the blue-painted windows really win me over. YMMV, but I kind of prefer the new Trailbreaker. That said, I don't think he's worth buying this whole set over. Number four in the set is Wheeljack. Now we're getting somewhere! Wheeljack's got the simplified pattern on his chest and legs that the cartoon does, swaps the black parts for a dark gray, and swaps the weird off-white of Earthrise Wheeljack for a more pure white. Not only does all of that make him better resemble the animation mode, but it makes him a closer match for the just-released Origins Wheeljack, which is a win in my book. Like the other releases in this set it also swaps the translucent plastic on his chest for blue-painted windows, and I think that more than anything else improves Wheeljack's cartoon likeness. As with Sunstreaker, Wheeljack's got a new rifle. You probably won't be surprised to hear that it's the other rifle that came with Elita-1. This does allow you to, out of the box, give him a shoulder-mounted weapon and a gun instead of trying to decide whether he should wear his gun or hold it like Origins and Earthrise, which is a plus, however the shoulder weapon is still more toy-style than cartoon accurate. Now, here's where opinions are likely to diverge. Earthrise Wheeljack, especially with the Replrolabels I put on him, looks a lore more like the G1 toy, and some people are bound to prefer that. But the cleaner deco on the new version is more cartoon-accurate, which I also like. If I had to choose just one, honestly, I think I prefer the new one. That's the one I'll display with my other Autobots. Wheeljack might be the first figure in this set that I'd say is definitely worth upgrading to, especially if you're on the fence about some of the others but didn't think they alone were worth it. But the temptation is strong to buy some 3rd party toy-style accessories and keep the Earthrise figure as my toy-style Wheeljack (it's too bad I can't find a toy-style head for Kingdom Blaster to do the same). The star of the set, though, is Hound. If you picked up Legacy Detritus then Hound shouldn't be unfamiliar to you, as he's the same Earth-mode Jeep retool of Siege Hound, with the same new cartoon-accurate shoulder-launcher and pistol. Being based on an Earth mode means that Hound's got the bumper, fenders, winch, and more-accurate grill and cleaner legs compared with Siege Hound, but the colors are also tweaked from darker green and black to a more cartoony lighter green and gray. Cartoon-style yellow stripes are present on his waist and forearms (but they missed the one on his biceps). If I have one complaint about the robot mode, it's that his thighs, face, and the winch on his chest are actually a very light green. While this does reflect how he was colored in at least a few scenes in the cartoon I think silver wound still have been a better choice. Alt mode is the same as Detritus', which is to say that it's certainly a lot close to a Willys and more recognizable as a Jeep than the Siege toy. He does suffer the same problems as the Siege toy, though; he doesn't have seats, just a hollow back, and his feet bulge out from the sides of the jeep in a way that's not accurate. To be truly cartoon-accurate it might have been nice to have his mounted machine gun, too, but storage for his shoulder launcher and pistol is adequate. For me, Earth-mode Hound gets to live with the bulk of my Autobots while Siege Hound goes with, well, most of the Siege releases and the Origins as the pre-Earth Cybertronian versions. Straight up, I bought this set because I wanted this Hound. I think that's why most people did. As good as Hound is, I think paying $100 for five figures that you really only need one of is a hard sell, though. The question really comes down to whether you have the other four or not, and if you do, whether you think the ones in this set are upgrades over the original decoes. For me, Wheeljack is for sure, Jazz definitely isn't (but it's nice to have a spare in case the translucent plastic on the original breaks), and Sunstreaker & Trailbreaker are right on the border. Overall, I'm happy I got this set, so make of that what you will.
  7. I mean... ok. Everything I know about FNAF is from watching Game Theory on Youtube. I watched the first one because it was free on Peacock. And it was just alright enough that I'd watch a sequel... if it were also free on Peacock.
  8. OK, Voyagers out of the way, we can move onto the Legacy United Leaders. One of them is already two-year-old Laser Optimus Prime (time flies!) in a new box. The other, as @M'Kyuun shared, is Sandstorm. It's kind of nuts that since the guy on the right came out I've reviewed two guys named Sandstorm, but one was a Decepticon jet and one was a Predacon scorpion. Astrotrain, Blitzwing, and Springer have all been updated post-Siege, and while I might hope for more G1-accurate post-Siege versions Octane's release in Titans Return and Broadside's in Power of the Primes are more recent than Thrilling 30 Sandstorm. You had to figure the last main triple-changer was due! And now that he's here... he kind of doesn't look right to me. To be fair, I think Sandstorm is actually quite accurate... to the G1 toy. That's the toy face with the mask, and the mix of dark and light oranges is accurate to the toy's color's. There's even some darker orange paint outlining Sandstorm's shoulders highlighting the edges of what would have been a hollow space on the original toy. Sculpted and painted details on his shins and stomach replicated stickers from the G1 toy. For greater toy accuracy, though, they should have made his thighs orange and his hands black. That said, I didn't have Sandstorm as a kid. My strongest memories of Sandstorm are from the cartoon, which would replace much of Sandstorm's lighter orange with a yellower shade, ditch the sticker details, and most importantly, give him an actual face. The black thighs here are cartoon accurate, but I'm still wondering why he doesn't have black hands. Anyway, Sandstorm's got a pretty big backpack... but that's G1 toy and cartoon-accurate. To help justify his Leader-class price tag, Sandstorm comes with quite a few accessories. You get a black rifle that's styled to look like the one that came with the G1 toy. You get a smaller gray pistol that seems to from the cartoon. There's also a flat gray panel, some black parts, and a winch. Sandstorm's head does seem to be on a ball joint, and on my copy you can tilt his head up... but it snaps back down for some reason. No downward or sideways tilt, but his head swivels. His shoulders also swivel and move laterally. His biceps and wrists swivel, and his elbows bend about 150 degrees. His waist swivels. His hips can go a bit past 90 degrees forward, 90 degrees laterally, but only about 45 degrees backward due to his backpack. His thighs swivel, and his knees bend 90 degrees. His feet can tilt down but not up, and his ankles pivot about 60 degrees. Sandstorm can hold either weapon in either hand, no issues. And you can use 5mm ports on his backpack to store them in bot mode. Additionally, Sandstorm has 5mm ports on either shoulder, on the outside of either forearm, on the flaps on the outsides of his legs, in the screw holes on the backs of his legs, and under his toes. If you really need it, you can also remove his tail rotor; it's a separate part plugged into a 5mm port above his head. With all those ports, though, there's still not a lot you can do with his other accessories in bot mode. The bars plug into the gray panel to form a sort of cage, although anything that fit inside could simply walk out the open front and back. The winch can plug into the top of the cage, and the other end of the rope is just a 5mm plug so Sandstorm can hold it... but what is he supposed to do with it? Swing it like a flail? Transforming Sandstorm into his dune buggy mode is fairly straightforward, as it doesn't really involve his backpack. His feet fold up and his legs collapse. His hands go into his forearms and then his forearms tuck over his biceps. His upper body pulls away and hinges down to tab into the top of his shins, with his arms folding out and down. With his chest open, you can pull out the engine and tuck his head inside. Then it's just a matter of splitting the top of the tail rotor and splaying it out into a spoiler. On the one hand, I think that aside from a little extra forearm showing and a little more helicopter kibble behind the rear wheels, that this is a pretty good take on Sandstorm's dune buggy mode. Heck, it's even got actual rubber tires! From the side, though, it strikes me as a little unbalanced. The front half sits pretty high, with the vehicle sitting up off the ground, but it drops off behind the cabin with just a little gray engine sitting above a ton of mostly helicopter parts that sit very close to the ground. I don't care for the spoiler, either. What's that tiny thing supposed to do? The cartoon had an actual spoiler, and while the G1 toy only had half a spoiler it was a decently-sized squarish panel, not whatever this needle-thin thing is. The G1 cartoon had a roll cage over engine, for some reason, and that's really where the black bars come in. Without the gray panel the bars can slide into two notches on the side of the engine. The gray panel still has storage, though, fitting onto the backs of his legs on the underside of the vehicle. Speaking of the underside, if you store the guns on the two 5mm ports on his backpack, same is in bot mode, he should still have just enough clearance to roll. That said, the instructions actually suggest plugging the pistol into one of his forearms, still under the vehicle. It also suggests plugging the winch into the engine before you enclose it with the cage, then the rifle can plug into the port on top of the cage. However you arrange his guns, Sandstorm's dune buggy mode definitely has the most cohesive storage for all his accessories. For helicopter mode, you'll mostly have Sandstorm something like halfway between robot and dune buggy. His hands are still folded in and his arms still covering his biceps, but they're not folded away from his chest. His feet are still folded up and his legs still collapsed, but the panels on the sides are folded around and his tires are arranged to lie flat against his shins. His chest is still pulled away from his body, but his head and engine are actually collapsed more into his body instead of pulled out. Once you get to that point, everything else is in the backpack. The sides unfold and wrap down and around his head to form the front of the helicopter. The rotor blades slide up and free from the clip, then the rest of the backpack folds down to cover his legs. Doors that let the rotor pass through the backpack close up to for the top and tail. Divorced from all sources, aside from visible tire on the rear and the tail looking a little off, this is a good helicopter mode. There's little wheels on the back and the rotors spin. When we consider the sources, though... I'd say he's fairly close to the G1 toy, save for two things. One, his arms sit back farther than the they did on the G1 toy. Two, the front of the helicopter had three blue window stickers... and that's it. I don't know why the designers put some extra windows and mechanical details on the front of Sandstorm here. The cartoon didn't have those extra details either, just an Autobot badge. Hmm... I wonder if someone on the design team looked at Sandstorm's page on TFWiki, read that G1 Sandstorm is a CH-53 Sea Stallion, looked at pictures of said Sea Stallion, saw that it has those extra windows, and slapped them on United Sandstorm. The problem there, though, is that the wiki is almost certainly wrong. Given the four blades instead of six on the main rotor, the single horizontal stabilizer on the tail, the lack of engine nacelles on the top, and the placement of the pontoons, I think it far more likely that G1 Sandstorm was meant to be a SH-3 Sea King. Thoughts, David? In any case, Sandstorm's guns can be stored by conveniently plugging them into either of the two 5mm ports on his arm/pontoons. Part of his robot tummy with the faux sticker details flips over in helicopter mode, revealing one of those little peg holes for a flight stand. Which just leaves the winch and cage, again. So, you can plug the winch into a 5mm port just under Sandstorm's face, between the tires on the nose on the front of the helicopter. With the bars plugged into the panel you can plug the 5mm peg on the other end of the rope into the top of the cage. Variants of the Sea King, especially civilian ones, are often used in search and rescue roles, so this sort of use of the accessories makes sense. I think the real issue, though, is deciding to keep your toy in helicopter mode and finding a flight stand to keep hm elevated enough to use the cage. Honestly, I think it's a lot easier to go toy-accurate on the dune buggy and just toss the winch and cage in a drawer somewhere and forget about them. Objectively speaking, Sandstorm is a mostly toy-accurate representation of a G1 character who's needed an update for a long time. Solid articulation, plentiful accessories, and engineering that makes him possibly the best-executed triple-changer Hasbro's done so far should be enough to make him an easy recommend for most people. That said, I sincerely hope for a Gen Selects version with a "handsome Sandstorm" cartoon face, a yellower light orange plastic, and none of the extra windows or mechanical details on the front of the helicopter painted. Then, if DNA is doing upgrade kits for United characters, a replacement tail rotor with a more G1-accurate spoiler than those rinky-dink points.
  9. Need to verify with a few friends that might want to go, and get a sitter for my kid because my wife will be out of town, but I think I'm going to buy tickets for the 19th.
  10. I mean, a review could be coming. The entire wave did basically land at the same time. But that affords me the luxury of starting with the Cores (hah!) and working my way up to the more expensive figures. After doing Silverbolt yesterday, I still have one more Voyager to do first- Legacy United Cybertron-Universe Starscream. When it comes to Unicron Trilogy designs, Cybertron Starscream was probably my least-favorite design. The colors never really said "Starscream" to me. This is actually applies to basically every Starscream between G1 and RID '15 (though Energon Starscream got close after absorbing some super energon), but other designs had a more traditional oval-shaped cockpit tummy (Armada, Energon, Animated, Bayverse), wings on the back (Armada, Energon, Animated, Prime, Bayverse), or Earth-based alt modes (Armada, Energon, Animated, Bayverse) to fall back on. Instead, the design kind of rips off Don Figueroa's design for Starscream in Dreamwave's The War Within. That said, I don't hate the design, and Hasbro did an excellent job capturing it here. In some ways it's an improvement; his arms aren't quite so bulky, and his hips are halfway up to his chest anymore. But it is a bit disappointing to see how much paint he's lacking. His undersized winglets are missing some black and don't have Decepticon badges. There's no gold on his shoulders. The panels on his forearms and the inside of his lower legs are missing red stripes, the vents on his legs should be red, too, plus he should have black/dark blue on his knee pads. If they were really going for toy accuracy his chest guns should be black, too, but I think they actually were gray in the cartoon, so I guess gray is fine here. The back and sides are Starscream are fairly clean, save for the fins on his back. You'll notice that his calves aren't hollow voids like the original toy, which is nice. The fins are a leftover from the original toy, an the CGI models in the cartoon were more-heavily based on the toys than the G1 animation, so it's one of those things were we just have to shrug and call it accurate. If they truly bother you, though, they are just plugged into ports on his back. They're not even attached in the box. Starscream's accessories are this tiny Cyber Key and a rifle, done entirely in translucent purple plastic. I'm not sure what the rifle is based on; the original Voyager-class toy that released in Japan (and as a few redecos, but not regular Starscream colors in the States) had a missile-firing gun, but I remember it being more tube-shaped. It was also, if I recall, mostly black, which makes me again bemoan the lack of paint here. You might also refer to pods on his shoulders as accessories, too, as they're removable and connected via 5mm pegs. Given how accurate the original toys were to the Cybertron/Galaxy Force cartoon, you might wonder how United Starscream could really be an improvement. And the answer, friends, is articulation. The Cybertrons toys were already benefitting from more modern articulation than previous lines, but United really takes it up a notch. His head is on a ball joint. He can't really look up or tilt his head sideways, but he can look down pretty well, and looking down on other bots seems fitting for Starscream. His shoulders rotate, and here's where things are already getting interesting. His shoulder armor can hinge out and away from his actual shoulder, allowing him to extend his arm a full 90 degrees laterally. They also have butterfly hinges so he can bring his shoulders forward. His biceps swivel, and his elbows are double-jointed, getting will over 90 degrees of bend until his arms start bumping his shoulders. His wrists swivel, and in something of a rarity for Starscreams so does his waist, though it stops at about 45 degrees to either side. His hips can go well beyond 90 degrees in all three directions. His thighs swivel, and his knees bend a little over 90 degrees. His feet have a double hinge so they can tilt up about 45 degrees and a full 90 degrees down, plus he's got 90 degrees of ankle pivot. Starscream can hold his rifle in either hand. In addition to his fists, he's got 5mm ports on either forearm, on the outside of each leg, under each foot, and one on his back. As previously mentioned, he also has one on each shoulder, but you'll have to remove his shoulder pods to use them for something else. Heck, you can plug the pods into his forearms, if you like. Kind of like they're null rays. As for the Cyber Key, you may have noticed in the previous that it can clip into Starscream's rifle. I can also plug into Starscream's back, like the original toy, although there's no spring-loaded gimmicks. There's no slots for the keys on his pods, but they do have translucent purple blades in them that you can deploy manually. I'm fine with all this! It's like he has most of his gimmicks (key, blades, etc), but without the unnecessary "gimmick" (the spring-loaded part). However, he is missing one gimmick that the cartoon and Supreme-class toy had (but to be fair, the original Voyager didn't either), and that's his chest guns. In the cartoon and on the Supreme-class toy the barrels could swivel up and down, allowing him to fire them in bot mode. They're fixed in place here, though. Starscream's transformation is pretty similar to what I remember from the 2008 Universe Dirge toy. The main differences seem to be folding his hands into his arms, folding up his heels, and aligning the new calf panels under the the vehicle. Also, rather than pulling his chest up and hoping it covers enough of his face to call it a day, his back actually opens to flip his head in, exposing a faux block that looks like the top of his head. The tetrajet-homage itself is also pretty good, though there are a few ways it's a little off. For one, likely due to the tweaked robot proportions, stuff just doesn't sit the same way. His shoulders, shoulder pods, and tail sit just a little too high. The red cockpit doesn't come out quite far enough; I think they could have been potentially mitigated by changing the shape of the heel parts and making them red. Speaking of red, the missing red stripes on his legs earlier translates to missing red stripes on his alt mode. Likewise, the slight-too-small wings have the same issues as bot mode. One new issues is that his ankles are made from the same dark blue plastic as thigh thighs and forearms instead of gray, leaving a strip of blue hinges near the cockpit that simply shouldn't be. There's also the calf panels. Seen from below they look very un-aerodynamic, like someone left the door open on a Star Wars ship. They help prop him up when you set him down, though. And extra hinge to bend the front up against the fuselage might have helped. Starscream's Cyber Key can plug into the back of the jet, where it still doesn't actually do anything. You can still deploy the blades in the shoulder pods manually. And Starscream's gun has slots under the winglets at the back. If you turn the rifle upside down, these slots grab onto tabs inside of Starscreams tail. Overall, Starscream's a very good figure that I'd give a recommend to, even if you're not a huge fan of the Cybertron cartoon. However, it's kind of apparent that he's bumping up against the limits of a Voyager-class budget, and I find myself wishing Hasbro had made him a Leader. While some, I'm sure, would balk at paying $20 more for a figure this size it would have certainly afforded the missing paint details, bigger wings, swiveling chest guns, cleaner calf panels under the alt mode, and possible another accessory or two like the crown he had in the cartoon/Supreme-class toy. I think that little bit more would have pushed Starscream from being "very good" to one of the very best. Here's hoping Hasbro gets around to Energon Starscream. I kind of want to complete the Unicron Trilogy versions for him and a few other characters.
  11. I mentioned it a bit ago. I think, when it was originally released four years ago, that it was an excellent figure. But it has a few flaws... the legs were retooled from the Siege figure, and the insides of his shins and calves are gray instead of blue. He's missing the yellow rectangle on the middle of his pelvis. And the trailer was really phoned in- a little too small, molded entirely in one color of plastic (including the repair drone, which is actually gray, not blue), and no Roller. And that's kind of why it's so curious that it's getting reissued (and that it's selling out). While nothing has been stated officially, reliable sources have already leaked that a Studio Series 86 Optimus Prime is coming this year. It'll be a Commander-class, so it'll cost more than the Earthrise figure, but one assumes that with the extra budget all the flaws of the Earthise figure will be addressed.
  12. Correct. It's for "Mysterians," a line of toys being developed by Knickerbocker Toys after one of their executives was inspired by a transforming keychain he'd picked up in Japan. Details are kind of fuzzy, but the best timeline seems to indicate that Knickerbocker was working on the toyline in 1982, before Micro Change. The first wave would have turned into simple shapes, but Knickerbocker was working on a "Speed Force" that would have consisted of Blazar, Jeepar, Speedar, and Truckar. When Knickerbocker was bought by Hasbro in late '82/early '83 the whole Mysterians thing was cancelled. Somehow Takara ended up with the designs (or they were working with Knickerbocker in the first place) and those toys became were released as MC-04 04 4WD Offroad, MC-04 05 Jeep, MC-04 06 Transam, and MC-04 07 American Truck, before coming full circle to Hasbro's Transformers as, Gears, Brawn, Windcharger, and Huffer, respectively. Brawn has the same 'M' on his hood, and if you look Huffer has the M on his doors. Windcharger's a bit more subtle, but if you look at his front end he's got indents a real Trans Am wouldn't, effectively turning his entire front end into an M.
  13. I got an email today from Hasbro Pulse. I was thinking that maybe they were going to announce that you could order Ginrai through them, just like I preordered Lunar Lander Prime and Missing Link Convoy through Pulse. Sure enough, they are advertising that they're selling an Optimus toy! ...Earthrise Leader-class Optimus Prime.😒 And it somehow sold out? If the rumors are to be believed, and my source has an excellent track record, we're getting SS86 Commander-class Optimus this year. I mean, Pulse is saying ER Prime will ship around September 1st, and I reviewed Magnus in mid-October last year. Seems like ER Prime will be shipping just before people start getting the Commander, and the Commander would be announced with plenty of time for the people who did preorder ER Prime to cancel.
  14. Busy day ahead of me, so I'm going to get this out of the way early. We're already done with the Deluxes, and we're moving into the Voyagers with Legacy United Silverbolt. I'm pretty impressed with how Silverbolt came out. He's very cartoon accurate, down to having fake hinges in front of his shoulders where the CGI copied the hinges on the original toy. The colors are pretty close to the original toy, but I'm not sure that's doing him any favors as he's kind of monotone. I'm not 100% sure, but I kind of suspect he was made entirely from a single color of plastic,, so the black on his face, the yellow eyes, the silver muzzle, the wing details, and all the gold trim is paint (the only bit I'm not sure about is the red in his belly). More silver paint might have helped him pop; the cartoon had his robot bits like his hands, forearms, and parts of his chest as a more metallic color than the gray beast-mode bits. Some people were suggesting that Silverbolt is somehow a retool of Tigerhawk. I can sort of see where they came to that conclusion; both stand on legs that become their alt mode's front legs, both have the loincloth thing going on, both have prominent wings... but no. Tigerhawk is a lot bigger and more complex, especially in the torso transformation. One of the more interesting changes from the original toy is the back. In the cartoon, Silverbolt's wings appeared to be on his back, but the original toy they remained parallel to the ground, with his beast back sticking off his own back like a hump. For this version, the alt-mode tail winds up sitting a bit lower, but his back is cleaner and flatter on the whole. Silverbolt comes with the same accessories as the original toy, his signature... clubs? Axes? I mean, they were really missiles that some designer at Kenner realized could be held in his hands, and that's what got animated. They're neither the all-gray of the orignal toy, nor the mostly-gold with silver edges of the original cartoon. Rather, they're gray with gold and black paint in just the right places to blend in with the paint on his wings. So yeah, Silverbolt's head is on a ball joint, but tilt in any direction is pretty limited. His shoulders rotate and move laterally slightly more than 90 degrees. His biceps swivel, and his elbows are double-jointed and bend 180 degrees- the beast legs sticking off his elbows are cartoon accurate, so don't mind them. His wrists swivel, as does his waist. His hips have some crazy articulation; his forward/backward movement is a swivel that could go a full 360 degrees if his arms weren't in the way, so his forward/backward range is basically until his is legs start bumping into his shoulders. Lateral movement is a disc hinge that again is impeded only by his arms, spreading his legs far beyond 90 degrees until his legs touch his shoulders. His thighs swivel, and his knees bend 90 degrees. His feet don't tilt up, but they do tilt down and he's got about 45 degrees of ankle pivot. If I have one complaint about his robot articulation, it's simply that his mouth doesn't open. I know that's not really a thing for bot modes, but it seems like it should be here. For whatever reason, Beast Wars characters don't get the plethora of 5mm ports that other figures do. There's some in his heels, if you want to use effects parts there, and his hands are 5mm, which lets him hold his clubs. That's it, though, so no Armorizers for him. That's not to say that he lacks weapons storage, though. There are tabs on the edges of his wings and slots int he handles of the clubs that allow you to blend them right into his wings. Weirdly, the clubs and wings have different molds. His right wing has one long tab that fits into one long slot on one of the clubs, and the other wing has two small tabs that fit into two small slots on the other other club. No mixing and matching here, or guessing which side is meant to be the front and which side is the back. There's only one way they'll fit. Transforming Silverbolt isn't terribly complicated, but it's surprisingly different from the original. On the original, everything stayed sort of level. His arms double-hinged backward to become the beast mode legs, his robot legs shifted up into their place, which freed his tummy to flip up and become the beast head with the loincloth becoming the neck. His wings and beast back never really moved. With the United version, his back opens up, allowing you to tuck in the robot head, and his tail lifts as well. His arms double hinge, but upward this time, covering over his robot head, and the loincloth folds up onto his belly. His entire back swivels 180 degrees, so his beast head is now near his butt. The beast tail goes back down, tabbing into robot shoulders. His thighs spin 180 degrees, then little holes on them fit into little pegs on his loincloth. You finish him off by closing his back and locking his beast head in using two small tabs that fit into two notches on his robot grundle. e And, for the most part, it totally works. Colors are a bit closer to the original toy than the cartoon, which is a good thing, I think. I thought that Silverbolt's head looked a bit like a rat in the cartoon. I might have liked some paint on the rear claws, but it's far from a dealbreaker. There are two things worth noting, though. First is that his robot arms are on the backs of his beast thighs instead of the front. I can't decide if that's better or worse. In theory, they're less visible from more forward angles, which is good, but from the back or sides they can't rely on hiding under his wings or being obscured by his front legs. It's exacerbated by the second thing, that he's a bit longer than the original. I don't actually mind that his body is longer, but his back isn't longer to match it, so his tail feathers don't reach all the way to his rear and also can't help cover his robot hands. Properly transformed, his beast articulation is actually quite limited. His wings have two flapping hinges, and one joint for tucking the wings in. His front elbows can bend forward and backward, and he's got some feet/ankle tilt on the front paws. His rear knees bend forward (which is the wrong way). He can open his jaws... and that's it. HIs head is locked in place. His front thighs are actually pegged into his chest, locking them and his shoulders in place. His rear thighs are similarly tabbed in place, locking them and his hips into place. And really, since he can't move his shoulders/biceps/hips/thighs, there's really only going to be one way to position his elbows/knees/front paws and having him standing on all fours. I've told you this before, I've watched Beast Wars as an adult and thought it was pretty good, but I was definitely in the "truck not monkey" camp in the '90s, I prefer Transformers that turn into vehicles (or at least more mechanical beasts), and I don't have a strong attachment to the Beast Wars characters and lore. Which leaves Silverbolt in kind of an awkward place for me. If you asked me who the main Maximal characters were I'd say Primal, Rhinox, Rattrap, Cheetor, and Dinobot, with Tigatron and Airazor being the runners up. The Transmetals and Fuzors from the second season just didn't have the same impact. But Silverbolt did have a pretty major arc, being a staple in that season and in Beast Machines and being the main impetus for Blackarachnia to switch sides. So maybe I've got all the Beast Wars I wanted in WFC/Legacy already. If you feel the same way, maybe Silverbolt's not really a necessity. But maybe you're a Beast Wars fan. Maybe you're hoping for Quickstrike, Depth Charge, and Rampage yet. Maybe you're hoping for Transmetal versions of the "main" cast. In that case, Silverbolt's a very good upgrade to the original and definitely worth a look.
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