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About M'Kyuun

  • Birthday 07/05/1971

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    Spokane, Wa
  • Interests
    Robots, especially those that transform; LEGO; sci-fi; well-engineered toys

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  1. Got this guy for my birthday last week, and while he's not as refined as LEGO Optimus Prime (who was designed by former Hasbro Transformers designer Joe Kyde), Bee, designed by Design Manager Samuel Liltorp Johnson, was a challenge that apparently nobody at LEGO thought possible. Not sure why, but more on that later. Sam took it as a personal challenge; it took him a year 's worth of work and the creation of two new very useful elements, a Technic element and a quarter compound curved brick to achieve a transforming version of everybody's favorite yellow Bug-cum-robot. There are some caveats, of course, and one might instantly chock them up to the limitations of LEGO, but as a transforming mecha designer myself with 13 bots under my belt, all of them perfect transformation with three of them Macross designs, I'm heavily disinclined to agree. LEGO has its limitations, but in Bee's case, as much as I like the model, I feel that it could have been much better. As I mentioned, there are caveats, the first of which is the necessity to parts-form his windshield into a barely believable jet pack. The shoulder joints sit very low within the arms and due to the size of said shoulders, which form the rear fenders of the car, his range of motion is limited. Further limiting the arm motion is the use of clicky joints anchored within the body in a setup that's reminiscent of Studio Series Hot Rod or Kingdom commander class Rodimus Prime, to name two well-known examples. In other words, with the arms straight ahead zombie-style, the arms cannot rotate out to the sides. The entire shoulder must be rotated as close to 90 degrees as possible in order to achieve any meaningful left or right. I have Bee's right arm rotated about as much as possible to the right, but due to a lack of clearance and due to that awkward shoulder joint, Bee's arms' range of motion is sparse. His elbows can bend 90 degrees, there's no bicep rotation, an unfortunate omission that would have afforded Bee some much needed additional range of motion, his wrists can rotate 360, and his three fingers and thumb can all articulate at the base knuckle. His hands are built around a recently new modified plate with a bar on the bottom which allows a claw element built into the handle of his gun to clip securely into his hands. Due to his transformation mechanics, utilizing two of those new dogbone Technic elements sandwiched together to move his legs into position to form the lower part of the car mode, he has no waist swivel. His thighs can swivel fore and aft, but the range is determined by where you position the big dogbone joint; have it pressed close to his crotch plate, and there's no forward movement possible; move the dogbone back one click and then the hips can swivel forward about three clicks or around 20-30 degrees. However, in the interest of stability, like LEGO OP, Bee has no knees. Furthermore, he has no ankle rocker to allow his feet to sit flat in anything but in a legs-together pose. The feet will rotate a little side to side horizontally, but that's about the extent of foot pose ability. Overall, much like the G1 toy that inspired him, LEGO Bumblebee is more statue than action figure. As to Bee's car mode, well, it's similar to a VW Beetle up front, but the rear takes on more of a 50's coupe look than the nice curvature of the Beetle's backside. Ground clearance is good and Bee rolls out like a true Autobot. One cool element to the set, pun partially intended, is that there are two yellow 2x2 tiles printed with the Autobot symbol, as well as an additional non-printed yellow tile. Thus, Bee can have the choice of having one on a foot, both feet if that's your thing, one on the roof of his car (the bot's chest) and one on a foot, or as I've displayed mine, just a single logo on the roof. Options are nice, and given the limitations of the figure, at least you can choose how you want to deco him. Additionally, he comes with some stickers: two for the license plate, one being the BMBL84 as seen on my copy or another that says GLDBUG, as well as the bumper stickers. These referential stickers add some nice character to the model even if you have to look at his backside to see them. I appreciate them nonetheless. While Bee's car mode, on the whole, is adequate, the hints that this is more than meets the eye are readily apparent to anyone remotely familiar with LEGO, Transformers or both by virtue of visible hinges, especially the dark grey ones used for his elbows and the corner of a grey brick, his shoulder joint, breaking up the sea of yellow, not in a good way. All things considered, despite some glaring flaws and a design that stands inferior next to LEGO's Optimus Prime, I'm glad we got him. Transformers, or more precisely, a homegrown transforming robot theme, has long lingered at the top of my LEGO wishlist since the mid-80s when transforming robots seemed to dominate the boys' toys market. Ironically, we almost got a taste had early M:Tron prototypes made it to market. Oh, how I wish these had been released. Years later, an obscure but regular poster to the Macross World Forums would add his own addition to what LEGO started: And that brings me back full circle to my statement of incredulity that a transformable Bumblebee was considered impossible, until Sam went and did it. Is it perfect? No. But is it an adequate second try at something that's such a radical departure from LEGO's normal set subjects- you bet! I appreciate that LEGO didn't one-and -done with Transformers. Bee gives hope that more will follow, and my preference would be for a Decepticon on their next outing. Since modern tanks and jets are off the table due to LEGO's no modern war machine stance, I wouldn't mind seeing them take a stab at everyone's favorite aloof Communications Officer and his mini-minions. I think a G1 Soundwave is feasible, although getting his cassettes right might prove challenging simply due to LEGO's part dimensions- pretty tough to get a thin wafer with any meaningful moving parts. But I've seen both Bumblebee and Soundwave MOCs that were quite good so, like Bee, I think there's a distinct possibility that Soundwave could be realized in a set that can stand proudly, or perhaps disdainfully, next to LEGO's Prime and Bumblebee. With a standard of expectations having been established for any future figs, I say bring 'em on!
  2. Just got these beauties in today. Still haven't transformed either of them (may have to consult a vid for Blitzwing, er Commander). Both of these guys have a lot of crisp lovely paint, and Magic Square's light of Peace Toy Colored version has some nice tampos reflecting the G1 toy. He also has the silver stripe around the cab which, to me, is a bit of an essential detail that the toon unfortunately omitted. I wish he had leg vents instead of those stupid toony squares, but otherwise this is IMHO the best MP OP mold out there for how well it captures Optimus, with Magic Square's previous MP OP, Light of Freedom, a close second (love his chunkier proportions even if he does also have a chunkier hitch bed in truck mode. And he has leg vents FTW!) 😄 I've been waiting, along with everyone else, what seems like an eternity for Fans Toys to finally release their take on Blitzwing, only to recently have them announce that they won't be producing it in the near future. Fortunately, there was already a pretty damned good contender available, and after fence-sitting waiting on FT, I finally made the executive decision to go with Star Toys' lovely design (i.e. FOMO). In some ways, especially the shaping of the thighs, he's a bit too toony IMHO, but in all other regards, especially the incredible balance they achieved with his alt modes (looking extra especially at you jet mode), I'm really happy with this fig thus far. After watching a number of vids, I know that the tips of his weapons in jet mode parts-form, and while I'm not a fan of that approach, considering the extent of his complexity, I think it's a passable offense. On the subject of his jet mode, while most Blitzwing toys just leave the turret hanging off the jet's belly like some misbegotten WWII modification, Star Toys brought their A-game and by virtue of some effective plastic origami, integrated the turret into the fighter's form giving him a nice flat belly. So nice! For anyone not aware, I'm prior Air Force and a bit of a snob when it comes to the accuracy, or general lack thereof, when it comes to Transformers with jet modes. Demonstrably, even Star Toys' take is merely a loose approximation of the MiG -25 Foxbat just like the G1 toy, but this toy's superb adherence to the G1 toy's fighter and the cleanliness of its execution warrant a pass. I appreciate the effort. I'm looking forward to getting into the transformation. Overall, these are simply amazing looking figures. 'We're eating well', to borrow a phrase. I try not to take it for granted. Credit to Sixo and TFSource for the fighter pic "Come on down, Autobrat."
  3. From your lips to Mr. K's ears. I think I'm safe in saying we all echo the sentiment; their first toy was nigh perfect so a second, building off the experience of designing the first with an eye towards a more balanced valk across all three modes, would at least rival the DX. I think we'd see some of the same solutions, especially the legs. If proportional to the rest of the battroid, they need to store somewhere and those nacelles seem the obvious answer (it has always seemed obvious to me despite Kawamori's mass-shifting artwork showing them shrink as they turn sideways to fit into their bays). I think that was one of Bandai's crowning achievements with the DX. It's not a perfect toy: the backpack gap leaves one wanting for a better solution, the elbow joints are unsightly (even if I laud them for the range of pose ability possible b/c of them), the forearms are a little too small, and the fact that the transformable gunpods don't fit well in the FAST Packs, and the main landing gear are too short to offer proper ground clearance. Yet it has presence and I honestly find it quite striking in fighter and battroid modes (never been much of a GERWALK fan). I'm looking forward to getting my copy. I've watched enough vids now that the transformation is staring to burn into my brain. Honestly, compared to many third-party TFs, and some Takara ones and heck, even some of the old 2007-2009 Bayformers retail toys, this thing really isn't all that complex.
  4. I appreciate your sharing that, as I have mine ordered through them and had given thought to requesting they open and check my antenna before shipping it. I guess they can't do that, but at least they're willing to help if i gent a bent antenna. Digits crossed I won't. Seems like a good packing job minimizing any pressure on top of the box is getting good results. I hope BBTS follow the example.
  5. This is B46 Light of Victory. I got the version wrong in my post- all these third-party names for stuff are difficult to keep track of. Sorry about that!
  6. QFT. Consider MS-02 Light of Victory. (Edited to insert right name of fig)
  7. Cheers to that. They've done some incredible engineering for their Gundam stuff, and their VF-19 advance, the version of their -19 that I have, is really well designed with some great solutions to eradicate the need for partsforming. Heck, I really like their VF-25 renewal, but YMMV. Then this. I'm guessing it was a very different team of designers working on the YF-21 because the level of investment on their -19 is simply not there. It's a notable dichotomy in approach and standard, unfortunately not for the best.
  8. I've been waiting to see pics of it drawn in as far as it can go, but 'the gap' is pretty much all I've seen thus far, which has me thinking this is as good as it's going to get. The battroid looks good from the front and 3/4 angles, but in profile, Yikes! It's such an obviously wrong departure from the line art and the animation, not to mention just about every other model and toy of the YF-21 thus produced, that it beggars the question how something so off-model made it through to production without being remedied.
  9. Boggles the mind how this looked 'right' to Bandai. Some of the proto shots appeared to have the backpack closer to the battroid's body with the main wing hugged up to the blue bits to which the grey arm armature mounts. There still would have been a gap, but it may have shaved off 1/8 to a 1/4 inch of that gap.
  10. 😄 The truncated belly plates at the aft end look clean, but they're definitely not canon. Below is Kawamori's line art. All that leg is supposed to cram into an area that's even smaller than what Yamato was able to do on their take using skinny legs. There's a lot of animation magic going on. I like the Bandai solution so far as enlarging the nacelles and using them for storage for proportionately sized legs. It's a shame they couldn't have found a way to somehow replicate that interior leg bay detail without resorting to a huge partforming piece. Granted it looks nice, certainly nicer than the alternative as we've seen with the Yamato, but one would think that, too, would have been part of the engineering evolution invested in this toy. Alas, no, a bit of a step back instead. I'm likely in the minority for my preference of the non-canonically truncated belly panels; I just never liked the leg-length panels, and I think the shorter ones compliment the battroid better, except when the gunpod is attached and hangs tackily over the edge; they should have been at least as long as the entirety of the gunpod. However, GERWALK looks better with the full panels open and those VTOL verniers visible and, once again, it's shame they didn't exert an iota's worth more of effort towards actualizing all the aspects of this valk, with certain concessions in mind, to achieve, like their other DX figures, a 'perfect' transformation that still captures all the features and details as envisioned by Kawamori. Did some retroactive reading after my initial post, and 'absolutely yes'. This is exactly the sort of creative engineering we've come to expect from third party Transformers developers, and even from Takara to an extent. We should certainly see it from a top tier toy company like Bandai. They need you @PointBlankSniper.
  11. Yep, inexcusably poor, especially for their high-end product selling at a high price.
  12. Well, there's gotta be some profit with a nearly $100 markup. I'm sure some of that goes towards shipping, but they return the favor in part to the customer with $4 flat rate shipping. And, if you canx your PO with them, they keep the $35 deposit. I hope they're gearing up now for the deluge of complaints when the majority have bent or broken antennae. I'm hoping mine will be ok, but luck is not one of my talents.
  13. I POed mine through BBTS which means I won't be getting my copy until August or so (they're always slow at getting stock) and I wonder if Bandai will have fixed the antenna issue by then. It would be as simple as packing it with the other accessories rather than attaching it to the head, a really easy and no-cost solution. I hope that's what they do in light of the number of bent antennas showing up. Since BBTS keeps $35 even if I canx my PO (pretty shitty tactic to make you keep it), I'm thinking of having them open my copy and check it and perhaps paying a little extra for additional packing to make sure it doesn't get bent enroute. The various package carriers aren't exactly delicate with packages. Beyond that, I hope my copy will have the proper shoulder bits. I've never had to use BBTS' customer support, but in light of the issues already popping up, I hope they're good to work with.
  14. I like this a lot, but the number of parts-forming bits, from the cockpit chair to the various locking mechanisms, all bely some really poor engineering when those things couldn't be built-in, especially for the price. I am glad, however, that the joints appear to have a proper level of torque/tension for a figure of this size and weight. It definitely presents well and those beefier legs make all the difference for the look of battroid, my preferred mode for display.
  15. I reiterate, a company of Bandai's long experience and proven prowess at applying good engineering solutions (especially if it starts and ends with Gundam), stuff like the backpack, the partsforming bit for delimiter, the gunpod issue, and the lack of ground clearance with FAST packs on by virtue of too-short main gear are all half-measures, a sort of 'good enough' standard that conflicts with what they've shown they're capable of, and definitely a step behind Yamato/Arcadia. I like it, and I'm getting a copy, but I'm certainly not blind to its flaws, and it's a bit of a bitter pill considering the price tag.
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