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Everything posted by mikeszekely

  1. Oh, ok. A storm knocked out my internet for most of the day and my spotty cell reception wasn't giving met the bandwidth to watch the trailer. Well, yet another Predator movie (and one where it looks like the the writers tried to up the stakes for the human protagonists by reducing their level of technology but really just makes me wonder where the sport is in using invisibility cloaks and lasers to hunt some people that only have a bow and arrows to fight back with) doesn't strike me as super interesting. But I have Hulu (and will continue to have Hulu as long as it remains my source for Archer and Letterkenny), so I might as well give it a shot if I'm bored. And I guess I can install the Prey reboot and play that in the meantime.
  2. When it comes to ordering figures online I'm *slightly* more selective. I can look at a figure and say, no, I don't really need/want that one. But when I walk into a store and see a Transformer I don't have my brain wants that hit of dopamine, and that's how I walked out of my local Walmart with the three Walmart-exclusive Beast Wars repaints. First up, we have Buzzsaw. He's Waspinator from the neck down, just with his colors reshuffled so there's more yellow, less green, and the blacks and purples are shuffled around. He does have a new head, though, based on the unmasked, non-mutant head from the original Beast Wars Waspinator/Buzz Saw toy. None of the issues with Waspinator's mold have been fixed. There's still nothing keeping the beast head on his chest open, and the connection between his upper body and his pelvis is still too loose. In beast mode the only thing separating Buzzsaw and Waspinator is color. I think Buzzsaw is colored more like a typical yellow jacket, and probably looks more "realistic" to many of us (despite the green cuckoo wasp being a real thing). Honestly, I think that the biggest draw for me is that we never got a Siege G1-style Buzzsaw. Especially with Ravage already making a Beast Wars appearance, my head canon tells me that this Buzzsaw is the same one that hung out with Soundwave during G1. Sandstorm is a repaint of Scorponok. Like his wave mate Buzzsaw, he's sporting a new head, but this time it was Scorpnok who had the normal head and Sandstorm who got the head based on the mutant mask. And, just like Scorponok doesn't really resemble his original toy's colors, Sandstorm's are a bit off, too. Most of his body is a sandy tan color, where the original toy was more gray. His shoulders, claws, and lower legs are a bright orange instead of the original's golden brown, and the beast legs curled on his back are a bright purple instead of the much darker purple of the original. But, y'know, it's fine, I guess. I mean, purple legs and orange claws aside, a sandy brown color does sort of seem like the kind of color you'd find on a real scorpion. But yeah, it's mostly the same toy, so it's really up to you if you think you needed another of the mold (or potentially a third, since Scorponok himself will be getting a toy-colored repaint, just like Terrorsaur). Oh, and I do think it's a bit nuts that we've gotten two Sandstorm figures in the last two years, but not the G1 triplechanger. At the rate we're going Hasbro will give us a new Bruticus ala their new Menasor and we'll get a repainted Brawl as the Battle Gaia version of Sandstorm. Finally, we have Nightprowler. I'll be honest, I very nearly left this one on the shelf, as there are a number of reasons why Nightprowler is the least-interesting of the three. For one, unlike his wave mates, Nightprowler is strictly a repaint of Cheetor, as the retooled mutant head was already used for Shadow Panther. And, while Buzzsaw and Sandstorm are retools of Kingdom Scorponok and Waspinator, the idea to repaint those two came in the '90s and the newer figures are actually based on older figures that really existed. Nightprowler, on the other hand, is based on a Walmart-exclusive Universe early aughts repaint that never released. Oh, and Buzzsaw and Sandstorm are, so far, only the second use of those molds, but there are A LOT of cats already. Add in Netflix Cheetor and this is the fourth release of this mold. Count Ravage, Tigatron, and Golden Disk Tigatron who are closer to being new figures but still use a lot of the same engineering and I'm a bit catted out. It's not to say that there's nothing interesting about Nightprowler, though. I mean, Buzzsaw and Sandstorm are both Predacons, but Nightprowler is neither a Predacon nor a Maximal. Look at the symbol on his forehead, and you'll see he's actually an Autobot. And to be totally fair, I kind of dig the snow leopard colors on his beast mode. It gives him a touch of individuality. Really, of all the cats I think I'd suggest getting him over Shadow Panther, who's panther alt mode is already covered by the much more interesting Ravage (I also don't recommend getting two Cheetors, and I can safely say that I'd have never picked up the regular Kingdom version if I knew that the Netflix one was going to have the better blues). At the end of the day, none of these figures are really necessary, and as a geewunner I'm not in the best position to say how nostalgic a given repaint of Beast Wars characters are or aren't. To me, the most interesting thing about them is that there's nothing to indicate that they're Walmart-exclusives. They come in standard Legacy packaging... well, that's not quite true. Unlike the regular wave 1 Legacy figures, the packaging for these guys has one major change that I hope carries over to all future Legacy figures- the boxes are no longer open with the figures exposed. There's a plastic window on them. I'm all for Hasbro making their packages more environmentally-friendly, minimizing plastic in favor of cardboard and what not. But as long as the window is made from a recyclable plastic I'll happily tear it from the cardboard before tossing the whole mess into my recycle bin if it means my new toys won't be exposed to scratches, damage, or strangers poking them before I get them home.
  3. Based on the games, I assume? I played but never finished the original one, and never bothered with the reboot. I've been interested in checking it out, though, since I found out it's from the same studio that made the Dishonored games.
  4. The last Wrecker reveal is up, and it's the Diaclone Twin Twist that leaked earlier. Funnily enough, I was just messing some of my Titans Return figures, including the Jumpstarters. And, while I think it's not the worst of the reveals, I'm going to pass. The only figures that really interested me in the line were the toy-colored Springer and Leadfoot, but since I don't want any more Fossilizers I guess I'm just getting Springer. EDIT: And if you missed it, Maverick is getting a reissue. Preorders are going to be available at Walmart in late July.
  5. Oh, I don't disagree with any of that, but you gotta keep things in the context of the time. HS Convoy came out in, what, 2006? Still a good five years before MP-10. We weren't spoiled for G1 Primes at the time like we are now- it was mostly reissues of the G1 toy, the Robot Heroes toy (which had a worse alt mode), and MP-01. Classics Prime, both the much-loved Voyager and the Deluxe one (yet another crappy alt mode), hit the same year as HS. It was exciting to get a cartoon Prime at all, but the real novelty was getting such a tiny one. But yes, by modern standards Magic Square and Newage have both delivered similar-sized, much better figures. At least that one had a tank mode.
  6. I still have Hybrid Style Optimus. Yeah, engineering has come a long way since then. I mean, it's impressive for what it does, but I'm sticking with V1. V2 is a little too cartoony. The trend is definitely to make toys that look as much like the animation cells as possible, warts and all. MP-44 was never my cup of tea, either, but I did upgrade from MP-10 to Magic Square's MP-scale Prime, which seemed like a nice middle ground that hides the wheels on the legs and fixes MP-10's gorilla arms but still retains some truck details and doesn't try to copy the Sunbow short torso, big pelvis, long legs, and thin arms. Plus, unlike MP-10, MS-01's abdomen grill is the actual truck grill. I agree, but not enough to pay over $200 for a guy that just turns into a head for an impractically larger toy coming at a future date.
  7. The 4th Wreckers set is Legacy Bulkhead, and he might be the most underwhelming of the collection so far. His thighs, biceps, hands, and fuel tanks are black now instead of silver/light gray, and his cab and bed cover have some extra brown and black camo spots. Oh, and he comes with a hammer that looks more like it should go with Prime Breakdown. I do kind of want the hammer, but not enough to pay $35 for another Bulkhead over it. It's too bad they couldn't have given him a new head and passed him off as another character... Bayverse Hound, General Optimus Prime, anyone but another figure I just bought in a barely-different deco.
  8. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it. I nearly bought one the first time, but ultimately I decided I don't really need an MP Star Saber. I'm hoping the HasLab one fills teh Star Saber-shaped hole in my heart.
  9. Thanks to @sh9000 putting up the link when Pulse got it in stock, today I've got Studio Series 86 Core-class Spike to look at. So, the sculpt is generally pretty good, and I like that they painted the details on his chest, but... where's his face? The blue on his forearms and legs is a tad too dark, and small details on his feet are left unpainted. Seriously, Hasbro, those paint apps are red and yellow, like you already used on his chest, and very small. They couldn't have cost that much. Speaking of skimping on the paint, they molded parts of his arms in blue, which is correct for his biceps and, maybe, parts of his shoulders. But everything on his forearms save his hands should have been white, as well as parts of his shoulders. One assumes that his back and butt should also be white. And you can see they molded some details on the outsides of his legs, and those details should have been blue. There worst thing, though, is that they have a huge hollow cutout in the back of his head. It's ugly, and it's cheap. Maybe I could forgive the not-quite-right colors and hollow head if the figure's budget went toward engineering or accessories, but... well, all you get are these two small blast effects. And the engineering isn't really all that, as far as articulation goes. There's a switch behind his head you can use to swivel it about 45 degrees to either side. His shoulders rotate, but the wheels on the back collide with his hips, limiting him to only around 45 degrees forward. A hinge lets his shoulders move 180 degrees laterally. His elbows are kind of permanently bent at a 45 degree angle. There's a transformation hinge in his bicep that you can use to bend his arm up maybe 75 degrees and backward around 45 degrees, but it makes his arm look like it's broken. I guess he does have a bicep swivel, but it's below the transformation hinge. There's no wrist swivel or waist swivel. His hips are ball joints that get about 90 degrees forward and backward and 75 or so laterally. His knees are also ball joints, acting as his thigh swivels and bending the knee 90 degrees. You can get more knee bend by using the transformation hinge above the ball joint. No foot or ankle articulation. The lower white part of his forearms spin around to simulate the weapons Daniel used to shoot the cover over the acid pool. The included blast effects plug into the nubs on the ends. They do not fit onto the littler nubs on the blue part of his forearms, nor do they plug into the boosters on his back, which is a major missed opportunity. Likewise, there's no holes on his feet for them to plug into, which is another missed opportunity. I can't say that there's much engineering in his transformation, either. His shoulders rotate 180 degrees, his forearms spin 180 degrees, and then it's just a matter of using the hinges in his shoulders and biceps to line his arms up. His hips move forward 90 degrees, his lower legs spin 180 degrees at the ball joint, then they bend forward the wrong way and tab together. Spin his helmet dome 90 degrees so the white triangles are in front and behind his head instead of along the sides. The minimal transformation is semi-accurate. His legs should really scrunch up more, but yeah the molded round detail at his ankles are supposed to be the wheels. Likewise, the front wheels really do just kind of jut out from his shoulders, although they should have some sort of fenders. I think his arms are supposed to wind up along the sides. But the animation, and the figure that came with MP-21, seem to do a better job making the end result look cohesive. Spike here looks like he's just lying down with his arms busted behind his back. Officially, his hands are pointing forward in vehicle mode, and the blast effects plug on like boosters. Which, I guess, was at least screen accurate for Daniel. You can swing his arms back around and have them pointed forward, like guns blasting, though. I'm almost thinking that actually looks better, as it kind of makes his hands slightly less visible and doesn't expose the mushroom peg on the outside. So... here's the thing... are you just collecting the mainline? Do you need a Spike figure, preferably with better articulation than the Daniel slug that came with Slag? Studio Series Spike will get you that, for around $12. But, are you an MP collector? Do you already have the version 1 MP Bumblebee that came with Daniel? I don't, but if you do that Daniel figure looks better in both modes, I think, and is only slightly larger in bot mode (it actually seems smaller in alt mode). Aside from the fact that its head is rounder, as it's meant to be Daniel, you're better off re-using that with your Studio Series figs. DNA Design is also coming out with an upgrade kit for Studio Series Slag that will include an Exo-Suited Daniel figure that could be another viable alternative, assuming you were in for the kit anyway. Long story short, I think it's a tough call between Spike or Hot Rod as the worst overall Core-class figure I've looked at. The articulation isn't great, the accessories aren't great, the hollow back of the head is a real weak move, and the alt mode is trash. On it's own merits (or lack thereof) I can't really recommend him. But, if you want an in-scale Exo-Suit Spike to go with your other SS86 figures you don't have a ton of options, and this one is the cheapest.
  10. The third Wreck N Rule figure went up for preorder on Amazon and Pulse. Unlike the other two, which were saddled by unwanted Fossilizers, this one is simply a G1 toy-colored Springer, and I'm down for it. Heck, after this, Galvatron, and Cyclonus I think I might be down for the rest of the '86 cast in toy colors. Or at the very least, Hot Rod, Blurr, and Kup.
  11. Lots of news lately, eh? Regarding her car mode, the SS86 figure has the longer nose and curvier base of the T30 toy, but seems to have retooled the back end so it's more shellformery. This fills it in and makes it more accurate, color-wise, than the T30 toy. As far as the robot mode goes, I know a lot of people weren't happy with the Kingdom toy, who is really a robot doing a yoga pose under the alt mode she wears on her back, but honestly for all the extra steps in the T30 toy I don't think it does much better; the nose and the rear sides of the car were on her bot mode, and that's it, and for SS86 it looks like they're covering up the legs. In both cases you're left with a robot carrying nearly her entire alt mode on her back, but at least some of Kingdom's backpack could be partsformed off, she had better proportions, and better articulation. I might be in the minority (and I'm definitely not saying Kingdom Arcee is a great figure), but I actually prefer it to the T30 toy (and that when I actually have the more accurately-colored Takara Legends version). SS86 Arcee looks like a pretty extensive retool. I need to see the back of her calves to be sure, but aside from her backpack it looks like she shares arms, chest, and her collar, probably some of her back, too, with the T30 toy. Looks like a new head, though, and from the bottom of her chest down she looks like an entirely new figure, as I can't see any shared parts between either SS86 and T30 or Kingdom. And the results are somewhat promising. The sculpt on the arms and legs is more screen accurate than both, the proportions in the hips and waist are better than T30, and she looks to have the waist swivel and ankle pivots that T30 lacked (I'm guessing lateral hip movement will still be limited to around 45-60 degrees, though). The pink and red lips on the face is better than the all-white Kingdom toy, but I think I prefer the overall head sculpt better on both of the earlier toys. All-in-all, she does look to be the best of both the earlier figures, although not exactly a definitive Arcee toy. I'll pick her up, for sure, then sell my Legends version and maybe give Kingdom to a buddy. But I can't really say I'm excited for her. What she really represents is a willingness by HasTak to go back and fix some of the worse WfC figures already. Fingers crossed for SS86 Vanettes and an SS86 Astrotrain, then. Maybe SS86 Constructicons. In addition to Arcee, also leaked or announced in the Studio Series recently are: DotM Bumblebee, which is really just RotF Bumblebee and movie 1 new Camaro Bumblebee retooled to make the alt mode more accurate to DotM and with the unmasked face. I mean, I guess I have to buy him for the alt mode differences, but wake me up when we get a new '67 Camaro Bumblebee from Age of Extinction. Sideways, who was a pretty minor character in RotF but I kind of dug him for his alt mode and superficial similarities to Barricade. The robot mode looks ok. I wish it had more of the red lighting from the CGI model, but I guess that's tricky with the lighting being on car parts. The alt mode is... kind of meh. It's obvious they didn't get a license from Audi for the R8, so they changed the front end and added some vents on the hood to make it legally distinct. I appreciate that they're at least trying to get the colors right, with the dark stripe over the bulk of the car and the thin strips running through the middle. Galvatron, who still looks a bit like a shellformer but a definite improvement over the AoE toy in bot mode. The truck looks good from head on, but there's a bunch of weird robot kibble on the back. Regarding MP Trailbreaker, I don't think I'd fault anyone for sticking with Terraegis, but I missed the boat on that one and have been hitting a point where I'd almost have to consider trying to get Fans Toys. But now, I can safely say that FT's is off the table. I kind of like the look of the new MP... I agree that it's a bit too cartoony in some areas, especially the alt mode, but the legs look a lot better. I might pick one up, or, at the very least, between this and Fans Toys my chances of finding Terraegis at a good price on the aftermarket are improving. Finally, I see Amazon's Wreckers are starting to be revealed. Now, you guys know I'm into repaints for some weird reason, but each reveal so far has been on repainted WfC character with one remolded Fossilizer. And, frankly, the Fossilizers kind of sucked, if you ask me. So the first one, Impactor and Spindle, that's an easy pass. Impactor is retooled and repainted to be closer to the Marvel comics, but I already have two Impactors (the retail release and the one with the more IDW-style head). Plus, Spindle is a retool of Paleotrex as a Spinosaurus, and Paleotrex was my least-favorite of the Fossilizers. The second set is slightly more tempting. It's the Earth-mode Mirage redone as Leadfoot. It looks great, just a bit of a shame they didn't give him his helicopter blade thing. I'd buy him in a second if he was being sold on his own, but I'm not sure I want to be saddled with Masterdominus, a retool of Ractonite as a Mastodon. I will say this, though, it looks like Masterdominus' colors are based on the Black Ranger's Mastodon Zord, and that's kind of awesome.
  12. I picked up XTB's Hoist... I looked how, compared to MMC and BadCube, they were the only one that really retooled the legs and made him fatter. I never did pick up a Trailbreaker, though, and I'm done with Fans Toys (after Dead End). So I'll be keeping an eye on this.
  13. I dunno, I like Scourge's alt mode. As a kid it seemed kind of otherworldly, the idea that this smooth, wingless shape could fly. So I wound up getting Scourge and two Sweeps to go with him (plus I still have a pair of Titans Returns Scourges if I really need more Sweeps). Cyclonus definitely had the cooler alt mode, though. Less alien, but sleek and dangerous. Plus, like @M'Kyuun said, it's one of the best figures Hasbro's released in the entire WfC trilogy. I'd have bought a second if they just tweaked the colors a little, I can definitely do toy colors. I agree that the first season is a lot better than the second. As a kid, I'd also agreed that I didn't care for the cartoon after the movie... but as an adult, I dunno. There's definitely some really bad episodes in season 3 (Madman's Paradise, Carnage in C-Minor, Surprise Party), but some of the better episodes had a stronger sci-fi feel than the first season's "what kind of crazy plan is Megatron coming up with to steal the Earth's energy this week?". And sure, as a kid Rodimus seemed like a lump while Hot Rod was cool and cocky, but as an adult I think Hot Rod's self doubt and struggle to find his own way to lead living in Optimus' shadow as more believable than Rodimus carrying on like the same reckless punk that got Optimus killed. Likewise, while I too prefer Nemoy's Galvatron, Season 3 Galvatron is explained by head damage he sustained after being tossed from Unicron. In fact, the episode "Webworld" is about Cyclonus trying to get Galvatron help. Can't say I'm excited for it, but it's not like I was dying to have Lift-Ticket and Guard, but I still bought them.
  14. 100% this. The limbs are all great, but Onlsaught's just OK. I like him better than the Unique Toys version, but aside from having overly chunky cannons I think Zeta actually did a better Onslaught. If you're going to be combining them, though, it's small potatoes, I guess. And I really love the combined mode. Because... So, I'm sure I've talked about this before, but when it comes to combiners I kind of prefer the individual team members to look like the cartoon, because that's how I remember them, but when it comes to combined mode I spent a lot of time looking at them in the pack-in checklists that came with other figures I had, to the point that I'd actually forgotten that Bruticus used Blast Off's nose for a chest in the cartoon for awhile. So I don't just prefer the head and gun, I prefer the whole setup- head, chest, gun, and feet. Assaultus with the upgrade kit really nails the look of the G1 toy, and I adore it. I'm not a big fan of the G2 recolors (for any of the combiners), but if they'd have done Baldigus/Ruination colors I'd have bought them (even though the Sunbow Combaticons don't really match the more toy-accurate Studio Gallop models for the Decepticon Commandos/Combatrons).
  15. Even if you unpeg it I really don't see any way to move the wheel anywhere behind the leg. The joints on the armature only allow it to fold up to the thigh. Heh, I was just coming to post this. I'm not 100% on the deco; I wish his fists were purple, and I think the metallic blue is a bit much- copies released in 1987, inlcuding the Targetmaster version this references, didn't have any blue (my own non-Targetmaster G1 Cyclonus doesn't). It is true that the original 1986 run did have some blue paint, but it A.) It was a darker, more subtle shade and B.) again, this deco is supposed to be the Targetmaster version, which didn't have the paint. I preordered anyway. Cylconus was one of of the best releases in the entire WfC line, I'll take any excuse for a redeco.
  16. Doesn't seem to be the case, no. The wheels have a peg hole on the inside that fits onto a peg just below where the tail lights start to wrap from the shins to the sides of his legs, it's definitely where they were meant to go. I thought maybe there might be an unofficial way to do it, but no. The wheel and quarter panel is on a double-hinged armature, but that just accordions the assembly up to his thighs for transformation. the armature is attached to his knee; there's no way to his knee cap. Even though, I thought maybe, since the kneecap is below the thigh swivel but above the actual knee bend and there's a transformation swivel between them that I could still maybe fake it, but the transformation swivel only turns 90 degrees one way. It's a shame, because putting the wheel onto his calves would have worked a lot better. He'd have less kibble on the sides of his legs, and the wheels would help fill in or at least cover how thin his legs actually are when viewed from behind.
  17. More or less, yeah. HasTak's Transfomers lines have evolved, and I think for the most part WfC/Legacy does a better job of offering (relatively) inexpensive figures with adequate articulation and solid playability while the MP line better captures the higher-end adult collectible market. That said, as a niche product I do like the idea of realistic licensed vehicles that transform into robots. I think Alternators/Binaltech was definitely a product of its time, but I think more paint and diecast alone wasn't really enough to evolve the idea as the main and MP lines started growing. I wouldn't mind seeing the concept come back at some point, but with more emphasis on actually transforming the cars to make better robots with more acceptable levels of articulation and less in-your-face kibble. Y'know, I don't have a ton of interest or shelf space for going back through the Alternators/Binaltech stuff, and I'm certainly not going to track down every repaint or even every character in the Alternity line, but with only four unique molds I could be persuaded to at least do that. Heck, I'm actually halfway there already, because when I picked up Convoy I was able to grab and even less-expensive, still complete-in-box copy of Megatron to go with him. Like I said yesterday, I love the R35 GT-R, but it's not a car that's realistically in my price range. That said, Nissan's actually been my go-to for my automotive needs for awhile now. My wife's currently driving a Rogue, but I put a deposit on an Ariya to replace it, and my daily driver is a Maxima. I settled on the Maxima because the birth of my daughter necessitated a back seat. If I hadn't made the decision to have a kid, though, there's a very good chance I'd have gone with the 370Z... which happens to be Megatron's alt mode. And, just like I went with red for Convoy because I think Prime is supposed to be red, I went with silver for Megatron because I think he's supposed to be silver. However, Megatron was also available in blue and black versions. I mean, there's not a lot to say about the alt mode that isn't a repeat of what I said about Convoy- it's a very accurate, detailed 1:32 scale replica of the 6th-generation (Z34) Nissan 370 Z (or Fairlady Z, as it's known in Japan). As with Convoy, the entire exterior of the car is painted, and he does indeed contain some diecast. He's still go the sort of accurate details you'd expect, like the Nissan badges on the nose and rear, the intended space for the license plate, the dual exhaust, the Z-badges on the fenders, accurate rims, translucent headlights, etc. The only knocks I might suggest are the painted brake light and rear fog lamp after getting the translucent repeaters on the GT-R mold, but I get why they did it given that the lights have to split for transformation. Also, there's a bit of robot kibble that's peaking out from under the rear of the car. And, as with Convoy, the doors and hood/bonnet open. Inside the car you'll again find realistic interior details including seats, a steering wheel the at turns, center console and shifter lever, and glove box. The inner door panels have some realistic detail by they're marred by a slider mechanism that'll come into play for robot mode. Under the hood we'll find the same lack of pullies, belts, fluid containers, wiring, hoses, and ducts you'd see on a real car but you do have an accurate representation of the 370Z's engine cover. Unlike Convoy Megatron has some accessories, namely this pair of swords. The sword's have small pegs on them that allow them to be stored on the underside of the vehicle. I have mixed feelings about Megatron's robot mode, which is similar in size to Convoy's. I mean, G1 Prime and Megatron turned in a CoE truck and a Walther pistol, not Nissan cars that are still on the market as of this writing (although both are due to be replaced, with the 7th-gen Nissan 400Z hitting dealers now and an R36 GT-R confirmed to be in the works), so I don't expect them to be slavish Sunbow robots with car parts hanging off them. And I actually kind of dig the samurai vibe Megatron's got going, with the doors forming shoulder armor. However, Megatron's feet seem kind of small, proportionally, and when viewed from behind you can see it's because his actual legs are kind of spindly bits hidden by car parts only from the front and sides. And, apologies in advance if you like it, but that head sculpt is possibly the worst I've seen on a Megatron that isn't from the Bayverse. For the record, while I think silver is the deco that is closest to G1 Megatron, and the blue version is pretty much the same except the silver parts (excluding his head) are blue instead, the black deco might actually look the coolest with most of the black and silver robot parts being replaced with red. Megatron's articulation isn't really all that different from Convoy's. His head is on a ball joint with about the same downward tilt but slightly better up/sideways tilt. His shoulders rotate and extend laterally about 60 degrees, due to the kibble. I'll note on my copy that the hinges for the lateral shoulder movement have become pretty loose, and his left arm is especially prone to drooping. Due to his transformation he's got a little backwards butterfly, too. He has bicep swivels, 90 degrees of elbow bend, and ball jointed wrists that swivel and have some limited tilt. Once again we have no waist swivel, and I think this has a lot to do with the Automorphing gimmick Takara decided to include in the line. His hips can move forward 90 degrees on a ratchet, and a little less than that backward, and roughly 60-75 degrees laterally on friction joints. His thighs swivel, and his knees bend 90 degrees. His ankles are ball joints, with pretty good up/down tilt and the ability to swivel, plus they can pivot about 45 degrees. Samurai Megatron can hold his swords by sliding the tabbed-shaped handles into the rectangular cutouts in his fists. Plus, the little pegs you use to secure them to the underside of the car can also be used to plug the swords onto Megatron's hips. Like Convoy, the backs of the seats on his forearms have a flip-out weapon, but no guns (or fusion cannons for Megatron). This version must like getting up close and personal with his foes, because he's got arm blades instead. In the narrow context of comparing Alternity Megatron to his red-hued rival, Convoy's probably the better figure. He's got better proportions, a better head sculpt, and the backs of his legs are filled in better. In the larger context, though, that's kind of splitting hairs. They are, broadly speaking, the same thing. Same concept (realistic 1:32 scale sports car turns into robot), same strengths (better engineering and engineering than the older Alternators/Binaltech stuff, great representations of the cars), and same weaknesses (limited articulation, engineering hampered by the Automorph gimmick). So ultimately, my recommendation is pretty much the same; they're neat little pieces if you can find them at a reasonable price (I paid $40 for Megatron), but as the prices go higher the Alternity line starts to lose it's appeal.
  18. I watched The Batman again over the weekend, too. The nearly 3-hour run time wasn't quite as easy to ignore on a rewatch, but there was a lot of stuff I appreciated more, like the use of lighting to reflect Bruce's emotional/mental growth and the visual parallels between Batman and Riddler (both had scenes where they walk into frame and the camera is focused on their boots, both had scenes using binoculars to spy through windows, etc. I still love Pattinson's Batman- at times quiet, at times violent, like he can barely keep his rage in check. I liked that the story played on Batman's abilities as a detective and not just a guy who puts on a cape and beats up people in the night. I think Pattinson's Bruce Wayne, still so scarred by his parents' murder, was good for this film, but I'll be curious to see if he can play the more social philanthropist he destined to become. I liked Jeffrey Wright as Gordon, and Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle worked better than I thought from just the previews. Colin Ferrell's Penguin was fantastic. Ironically, the only performance I didn't really care for was John Turturro's Carmine Falcone. To be totally fair to him, though, I don't think that's entirely his fault. I just prefer the more Godfather-esque depictions, like John Doman's performance on Gotham; Turturro's Falcone struck me as more like the tracksuit-wearing low-level mook that would work for the Don, not the Don himself. And the car! Yes, it wasn't an all-terrain military vehicle like the Tumbler or a tank like the Snyderverse or Arkham Knight, it was just a car... but one that oozes menace and relentlessness. I'll need to go back and re-watch The Dark Knight. It was definitely a good film with an excellent take on the Joker, but I think I might prefer The Batman.
  19. So, a few weeks ago I was able to add to my collection of Optimus Primes, and I want to talk about something different today. Let's go back in time a bit, to the late 2000s, and take a look at Alternity Convoy and Alternators Optimus Prime. A big part of both lines is that instead of figuring out how to get a mostly Sunbow-looking robot to turn into a close-enough approximation of the hastily-drawn animation model representing the car that the original Diaclone toys that became Transformers, these are toys that are designed to be accurate replicas of real vehicles that are then worked into robots. As such, I'm going backward from my usual format and staring in alt mode. At a glance, Alternity Convoy seems much nicer than Alternators Prime. The Alternators toy is entirely plastic, and all the red parts are cast in red and unpainted. Meanwhile, all the red you see on the Alternity figure is is painted, and he's got a nice heft due to copious use of diecast. That might not be an entirely fair comparison, though, as the Alternity line was exclusive to Japan, and I'm pretty sure that Binaltech (the Japanese version of Alternators) used more paint and diecast than the global Alternators releases. So really, the big difference between the lines seems to be that Alternators/Binaltech used a 1:24 scale for cars, while Alternity was shrunk down to 1:32. Now, I'm not up on model or diecast car collecting, but I know that 1:24 is very popular in the States but 1:32 isn't exactly uncommon here and is pretty popular in other parts of the world- I know Jada Toys makes diecast cars in both sizes. I have a few of their 1:32 Batmobiles and a 1:32 KITT, but I also know that every one of them was available in 1:24 at some point. I have no idea why Takara opted to switch scales, though. Alright, let's take a closer look, first at Alternators Prime. As we can see from the logo printed on his tailgate and doors he's a Dodge Ram SRT-10 pickup truck (I'm not knowledgeable on any tweaks between model years, but the SRT-10 was on produced from 2004-2006 and the figure came out in 2006). The "10" part comes from the fact that the truck used the same V10 engine as the third-generation Viper, a feature further advertised by the Viper badges tampoed on the sides of the hood scoop. Those badges, along with the Ram badge on the nose above the grill, the "Ram SRT-10" on the doors, and the "Dodge" and "SRT-10" marks on the tailgate are all present on the actual vehicle. The figure also features black paint for the side mirrors, door and tailgate handles and grills, silver paint on the grill, and translucent plastic for accurate headlights, fog lights, and taillights. Even the rims are accurate, although the rubber tires on them are a fictional "Cybertronian Radial." The only thing I can really find that it's missing is the turn signal repeater lights, which should be on the front fenders just in front of the Ram logos on the doors. Like you might expect from a non-transforming diecast car at this scale, the doors open and you can see seats, a steering wheel, and even the infotainment console molded inside. The steering wheel can be turned, although I don't think they actually move the tires (but the tires are linked to each other and can be moved, so...). A nice touch is that the door itself has an interior panel installed with realistic molded detail including the armrest/door handle, door pocket, and speakers. The tailgate opens. The hood (or bonnet for our friends across the pond) also opens to reveal a somewhat accurate engine, or at least the top of it (I think part of the intake and the oil reservoir, and you can even see a tiny oil cap molded onto it, but nothing actually below it). Although it can be a bit of a bear due to the fac that the hood doesn't open any wider than I have it pictured, that engine is actually removeable. What's more, it transforms to form a little pistol that is the figures sole accessory. All-in-all, it's a very detailed truck that even includes expected interior details. Aside from a few seams there's little to give away the fact that this even transforms, I don't think it'd look too out-of-place in a collection with other 1:24 scale models or diecast cars. Alternity Convoy turns into a Nissan GT-R (R35). While there have been tweaks to the R35 over the 15 years it's been on the market this figure came out in 2009, and the R35 didn't get it's first facelift until the 2010. Once again, we're treated to a very accurate replica with the GT-R badge on the front grill and the tail, the nissan badge on the tail, duct vents on the front fenders, the finishers above those vents, and translucent headlights, taillights, and repeaters in front of the front wheels and near the taillights on the sides. Where Alternators Prime had shades of a California license plate painted on, the spot for the plate on the Alternity Convoy is left blank. Note that, while I went for red because that's the color I expect Optimus to be, he was also available in silver. I think it's a bit less common on 1:32 scale diecast cars, but Alternity Convoy's doors and hood/bonnet do open. Once again, you'll find a steering wheel inside that turns, although this time the wheels do not move at all, detailed seats, center console, and glove box, shift lever, and interior door panels. Under the hood/bonnet you'll find... well a frame of sorts. Most of the actual engine and ductwork you'd find in a real GT-R is missing, but that hexagonal panel with the molded ductwork does resemble the intake manifold on the real car, so there's that. It doesn't come out this time, and Alternity Convoy has no accessories. The difference in the car scales affects the size of the robots, naturally. I have them here with Earthrise (Netflix) Prime so you can see. If you count to the tops of their heads, Alternators Prime was essentially the size of a larger Voyager figure, while Alternity Convoy is around the size of a tall Deluxe; much taller than WfC cars like Sideswipe or Prowl, but about the same height as Ironhide and still shorter than the shorter Voyagers like Starscream. I'm not sure if it's a function of budget (I'm not sure how much Binaltech figures cost in Japan, but think Alternity figures ran a bit more despite their smaller size) or if toy engineering really improve that much in three years, but Alternators Optimus has a pretty straightforward transformation where, from the back and sides, he hardly looks transformed at all. The doors open, but other than that they and the front fenders don't move. Some of the bumper rotates to fill in the space above his shoulders, but most of the front end folds over to become his chest. The seats fold down onto the backs of his arms, the rear window tucks up underneath the roof, and the bed of the truck stretches out with panels that fold out of the way of his knee joints, and that's kind of it. Alternity Convoy has a more involved transformation, especially turning the rear of the car into his legs. And, for better or for worse, he's also got something like the Automorph tech used in some of the original movie line figures, where moving some parts makes other parts transform automatically. For what it's worth, I think that Alternity Convoy looks more visually interesting and like a properly transformed robot, although the backs of his legs are a bit messy and they both have their fair share of kibble. Alternators Prime's articulation is pretty poor. His head is on a ball joint, with limited up/down/sideways tilt. His shoulders rotate, but they're a tad limited by the kibble around them. Likewise, they can move laterally but at around 45 degrees the runners out the outsides of his arms get caught up in the fenders over his shoulders. Due to the transformation hinges and the fact that they kind of float at his sides he does have some forward and backward butterfly joints, though. He doesn't have any bicep swivel. His elbows are double-jointed and do at least have some good range. His wrists are ball joints so they can swivel and have some limited tilt, and his fingers are pinned at the base with his index finger separate from the others, so he can open his hand. He does have a waist swivel. His hips move forward and backward about 60 degrees before being blocked by kibble, and a little under 90 degrees laterally. His thighs swivel, and his knees bend 90 degrees. The front of his feet are on ball joints, so he's got a little up/down tilt and 30-40 degrees of faux ankle pivot. His engine pistol fits into hand by plugging a tiny peg on the handle into his palm. Alternity Convoy's articulation is also a bit limited. His head is also on a ball joint, with no real upward range but more downward and sideways tilt. His shoulders rotate, and this time the door kibble rotates with them so he's got the full 360 degrees. The actual shoulder moves laterally behind the door a little under 90 degrees. This time he does have bicep swivels, but his elbows are a single hinge that bends 90 degrees. His wrists are again ball joints, so they swivel and have some tilt, but he has no articulation in his fingers. Gone, too, is the waist swivel. His hips can move forward forward 90 degrees and backward a little under that on ratchets, and laterally around 60 degrees. His thighs swivel just above his knees, which are ratcheted and bend 90 degrees. The black part of his feet are on ball joints with a little upward tilt, 90 degrees downward, but very limited ankle pivots. Although he doesn't have any accessories, twin cannons fold out of the seat backs on his forearms. So here's the thing... I think, by almost any standard, the Alternity figure is the better toy (and I'm not just saying that because I'm a big fan of the R35 GT-R and have zero interest in pickup trucks). It looks more transformed, and what it lost in elbow, hand and waist articulation it gained in more important areas like shoulders, biceps, and hips. And yet, the Alternity line offered just four basic molds for thirteen characters before it fizzled out (technically, it was replaced by Transformers GT, but that was just four more retools of this very figure). Meanwhile, while I didn't really collect from it (aside from Prime) I remember Alternators being fairly popular, and the numbers seem to back that up with thirteen molds delivering twenty-six characters. Now, I know Optimus has a reputation for being one of the less-good Alternators, but still, what made the Alternators line popular, and why didn't Alternity catch on? I'd love to hear your thoughts, especially if you were collecting either line, but here's my thoughts. For starters, I think timing had a lot to do with it. The Alternators line began in 2003. Around that time there was a resurgence in interest in G1; RiD, which revived the concept of robots that turn into cars and what not after a few years of beasts, had just ended. Dreamwave had recently launched their G1 comics, and G1 reissues were a thing at Toys R' Us. For the first time in a long time we were getting new toys of the characters we'd loved as kids, and this was a year before MP-01, a year before Robot Masters, three years before Hybrid Style, and three years before before Titanium Series or Classics. Alternity, meanwhile, didn't debut until 2009, after the MP line began, after Classics became Universe and was about to switch to Generations, and we had a lot more options to feed our nostalgia. I think the change in scale might have been a factor. While both scales seem to be readily available for diecast cars, I'd venture that 1:24 is or was more popular, at least in the States. Which brings me to another factor- Availability. In the States, you could walk into a toy aisle in your local Walmart or Target (or Kmart, because we still had those then) and find Alternators. You could see a 1:24 Dodge Viper on a shelf, realize that it turned into Sideswipe, and then take it home on a whim. Alternity was exclusive to Japan. You had to know you wanted it, and you had to want it badly enough to import it. I'm not sure what the retail price was in Japan, but I seem to remember stores that were importing them here charging around $70-$80, more than double what Alternators figures ran here. Finally, overuse of the Alternity molds. Sure, almost every Alternators mold got re-used (I don't think Prowl, Skids, Rumble, or the Jaguar XK version of Ravage did), but (not counting the same character it multiple colors, i.e. Jazz in silver or red, or Tracks in blue or yellow) I don't think any mold was used for more than three characters. Meanwhile, again not counting that Convoy came in both silver and red, this mold alone was used for Convoy, Black Convoy, Ultra Magnus, and Dai Atlas then retooled slightly in Transformers GT for another Convoy, Megatron, Star Saber, and Fortress Maximus. Two of the other three molds were used for a minimum of three characters, and the fourth was only used for two but one of those two came in three different colors. Anyway... while I'm more interesting in reminiscing about Alternators I always conclude my reviews with recommendations. So, here we go... if you collect Optimus Primes (as I do), then it probably doesn't matter what I say. But, in 2022 I'd probably recommend against Alternators Prime. As I said, even at the time he had a reputation for not being one of the better figures in the line. I don't think he holds up well to the Classics Optimus that released the same year, and by today's standards he feels positively dated without the same childhood nostalgia that at least the G1 toys give you. Alternity Convoy is a tougher call. He is a better robot, and the paint and diecast do give him more of a premium feel. Plus, as noted, I'm a sucker for the GT-R. That said, for all his improvements over Alternators Prime he's still lacking articulation by modern standards, and a lot of his value is more in the novelty of having a very accurate, detailed, licensed car mode. He might be worth picking up if you can find him at a good price (I got an opened but complete boxed copy for $50, and that's probably about right), but once you start getting into MP car prices he's not really worth it when MP cars also have licensed real-world alt modes plus they're bigger, have more articulation, and cartoon-accurate robot modes.
  20. Yeah, they've pretty much come out and said they try to avoid that when possible. Thing is, I wish they'd put up more of a fight, because when they do release a figure that another company does I usually prefer theirs. Arcee and Springer are great examples; you could argue that FT's Rouge and Apache looked better in a neutral pose on a shelf, but neither were especially fun to handle (Rouge especially was a nightmare and, to this day, one of my least favorite 3P figures), while Azalea and Saltus are solid figures that are fun to transform and pose. Plus, with Maketoys and BadCube pretty much dead, DX9 not releasing new figures because their designer quit, UT focused on Bayverse, and MMC avoiding competition the MP market has been reduced to picking between Fans Toys and X-Transbots.
  21. Maybe MMC will do an IDW Star Saber, since they're doing Dezarus. In fact, I'm planning on picking up the G1 version to go with HasLab Victory Saber. I'm rarely disappointed with their stuff. Out of curiosity, have you tried the Iron Trans Star Saber? I've heard the transformation is finicky, and there's some long-term concern about the joints done they're all friction (but I haven't heard any complaints of lose joints yet). But everyone I've talked to has been pretty happy with the robot mode in terms of looks and articulation. I nearly bought one myself, but I didn't really need an MP Star Saber.
  22. Hey, he's about the same size as Devastator, and only a little shorter than Bruticus or Abominus. But yeah, it's funny how as adults we're demanding 20" tall combiners to scale with MP-10/44 according to the Sunbow chart. Meanwhile, back in the day our Scramble City combiners were actually shorter than Galvatron and Ultra Magnus.
  23. Quite awhile ago I reviewed two DNA upgrade kits for Earthrise Titan-class Scorponok. DK-19 gave him his missing gun, gave you a second set of articulated shoulder cannons to replace the stock ones, gave you covers for the gaps on the inside of his ankles, bulked out the panels on the outside of his legs, and gave him a clear face shield. DK-21 beefed up his shield, two more articulated shoulder cannons to give him the a G1-accurate total of four, a translucent red visor, and articulated scorpion legs. Well, DNA didn't stop there. They did one more kit for Scorponok, DNA-23. This has got to be one of DNA's more ambitious kits. Previous kits have added missing accessories or replaced parts on smaller figures, but this time we're replacing the thighs and most of the lower legs on a Titan. So, yeah, what you get is what you see here... two thighs, two lower legs, and a bag of screws and some rubber bits. For all we're replacing here, this kit's not too hard to install. Turn the leg sideways, and remove three screws (red circles). This will allow you to split the thigh open and remove the entire leg. Pull the other half of the thigh off of the knee joint, but take note of these little gray parts (blue circles). The top most one is part of the ratchet for the thigh swivel, the middle one is the ratchet for the upper knee joint. The bottom one is the clip where the tail attaches in scorpion mode. Remove them and set them aside, you'll need them in a bit. With the thigh removed we can work on the lower leg. Before we get too far, pop the purple panel (blue arrow) off. It's not pinned or anything. You'll need that for the new leg. Once you've done that, remove the three screws (red circles), then slide open the leg. Oh, yeah, and remove the DNA inner ankle cover, too, if you're using them. Remove the large gray knee joint and set it aside. Also, don't forget to remove the ratchet for the lower knee joint! We'll need that later, too. Then slide the other half off the leg off. You'll be left with the foot and the gray part that runs up the shin. Now, take the halves the the DNA leg. You'll note a little piece in between them (red arrow). Line it up with the gray part of the shin, then slide one side of the leg on so that it captures it as it pegs into place. Put the knee joint and ratchet back, then slide on the other side and screw it closed again with the provided screws. If you're using it, you can re-install the inner ankle cover exactly the same way as before (by clipping one end at the bottom of the hinge for the panel on the back of his leg, and then lining up the other end with the lower screw hole). Grab half of the DNA thigh and slide the other end of the knee joint onto it. Put the ratchets and clip from the old thigh into the like spots on the DNA thigh. Oh, and this is where the rubber bits come in. Basically, the idea is that stresses on the ratchets will cause them to bow inward. Stack two of the rubber bits together and wedge them inside the ratchet. They're sturdy enough to force the ratchet back out, perhaps even bowing a bit the other way, but smushy enough that the ratchet can still press in so the joint can move. The result should be a tighter ratchet. The instructions indicate that they go in the thigh swivels and upper knee joints. My personal experience is that they're useful in the knees, but too thigh in the thighs, but your mileage may vary. Once the ratchets are in place line it up with the gear sticking out of Scorponok's hip, then capture that gear and the knee joint with the other half of the thigh and screw it back into place. So what's this kit about? At it's simplest, I think the idea was to make Scorponok as tall as his rival, Fortress Maximus. And, yeah, it does that. But, here's the thing, I was thinking that there's something wonky about Scorponok's proportions. I was thinking that longer legs might help, but I'm not sure it really does. I think real problem is that his arms are too short, and longer legs just calls attention to that. Maybe we kneed yet one more DNA kit for this guy... Regardless of what you think about the proportions, DNA did a pretty good job with the build of these parts. You could tell they tried to match the paint and molded details of the original as much as possible, just extending them in areas where necessary. So, for example the blue bits around the hexagonal panels on the fronts of his shins are the same as before, but instead of sitting on a square background they're on an inverted house-shape. And as long as we're looking at it, DNA did a good job matching the purple plastic Hasbro used originally. They didn't get as close with the green, but Hasbro themselves frequently have poor color matching between plastic and paint (like the gold on Black Zarak's feet there), so I guess a little color separation just doesn't bother me anymore. This kit's not going to affect the base mode too much, it's just going to make him slightly wider due to having longer legs. I was worried about the scorpion mode, though. After all the, tail folds down from his back and wraps around to clip into the exposed underside of his thighs. Giving him longer legs means we're moving the point of connection. Would that cause a problem for plugging the tail in? The answer is no, not really. The tail still fits under, still plugs into the same spot, and it's even using the original clips that we transplanted into the new thighs. The only thing to note is this double-hinge I've circled in red. With the original parts, the hinge would be bent at 90 degrees on both ends. Now, because it has to stretch a little further, the hinges are angled. I guess, when viewed side-on from this low angle that it exaggerates the gap between the tail and the underside of his body, but mostly it's not a big deal to me. DK-23 is a well-made kit that does exactly what it set out to do... but what it set out to do is make Scorpy Fort Max's height, not fix his wonky proportions. So, while I thought DNA-19 was pretty much essential since you got his missing rifle and a set of articulated shoulder cannons (which gave you four if you counted Hasbro's, the correct number he should have), and DK-21 wasn't as essential but I appreciated the bulkier shield, articulated scorpion legs, and the fact that with 19+21 you had the correct number of shoulder cannons and they are all articuated, I can't help but feel that maybe DK-23 wasn't really necessary. Besides, when you add up the cost of all three kits it's nearly as much as Scorponok cost in the first place. Buy it if having Fortress Maximus beat on a smaller adversary bugs you, but if you're fine with Scorponok's heigh and leg-to-torso proportions you can pass on this kit. Ah, but before I got, I should mention one more kit... DNA DK-33. DK-33 is everything in DK-19, 21*, done in colors to match Black Zarak. *Minus the translucent face shield and visor, since those parts only work with the Scorponok head and not the remolded head for Black Zarak. We have ourselves more of a dilemma, here. With Scorponok, the parts were divided into three kits, one essential, one pretty dang good, and one mostly unnecessary. That gave you a limited ability to pick and choose what you needed, helping you save money, and by spreading out the cost over one, two, or three separate purchases. DK-33 is just the one kit and running $130, which is what I paid for Black Zarak in the first place. And, I gotta tell you, I could live without the gun this time, since Black Zarak's got his spear. I could live without the new legs and maybe even the bigger shield. I don't really even use the ankle covers, since they mess with his alt modes. But you know what? I like the parts that add the extra bulk to the panels on the outsides of his legs. And after using DNA shoulder cannons and articulated scorpion legs on Scorponok I could NOT go back to the Hasbro stock parts (especially since Hasbro didn't give you enough shoulder cannons). So, yeah, if you have Scorponok and upgraded him, you kind of have to do the same for Black Zarak. I really wish they'd have broken the kits up like they did for Scorponok; I'd have bought two and skipped the bigger robot legs for both him and Scorponok, then. But at this point I guess DNA knew they had you, so you had to buy it all. And if you bought it, you're going to use it, right? And if you use the legs on Black Zarak, well, now you gotta go back and get them for Scorponok, right? Ugh.
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