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@mikeszekely Stellarus Prominion looks like a pass to me. It just doesn’t cater to my preferences. Maybe MMC will put out a repaint in Nemesis Prime colors  whose paint job is much more appealing to me.

One thing that is really off putting are the translucent blue windows. I think they would look much better (i.e. not cheap) if they had a silver coat on the inside, or be painted completely.

From the pictures and descriptions everything about this toy screams cost savings which strikes me as an odd decision since fans of Star Convoy, like Mike, would have payed for a toy with all the bells and whistles I think.  While the cheaper price won’t sway the casual Optimus Prime enjoyers into buying it.

I think I will buy a Purple Potato instead. ^_^

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Did anyone get in on the Acousic Wave pre-order? I don't get the Fanstoys rebranding but I gotta admit that the add-on parts to complete Soundwave's toy look were tempting me. Anyway, I ended up missing all the pre-order windows (not enough Bandai DX pre-orders to keep my F5 reflexes in shape). Thinking about it now, that's probably a good thing. Acoustic Wave alone is $249.99US and the cassette pack runs another $119.99 to get three extra tapes. 

As much as I like the photos, MP-scale releases have been steadily marching out of reach for what I'm willing to pay. If all the listed items were bundled together and priced at $250, I think I would have been okay with it. Asking for another $120 for a full set of tapes is a bridge too far for me, but all US shops are sold out so I guess Fanstoys knows their audience.

Also, I'm surprised to see that Buzzsaw isn't included. That means ol' Buzzy is on both WFC and FT's ignore list. He gets no respect. <_<

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2 hours ago, technoblue said:

As much as I like the photos, MP-scale releases have been steadily marching out of reach for what I'm willing to pay. If all the listed items were bundled together and priced at $250, I think I would have been okay with it. Asking for another $120 for a full set of tapes is a bridge too far for me, but all US shops are sold out so I guess Fanstoys knows their audience.

This.

And the fans don't get it, either.  I warned them when the price tag for MP-44 was first revealed that people should not buy it, that doing so was giving Takara tacit approval to charge those sorts of crazy prices in the future.  While none have been that bad (Arcee was fairly reasonable, even), Hound, Bee, and Starscream were all a lot more expensive than similarly-sized figures from the pre-MP-44 days.

And the fact that people were willing to buy at those prices has emboldened both Fans Toys and XTB.  I'd hoped that Astrotrain was a mix of high demand and pandemic pricing, but based on the price for Soundwave here and Skullcruncher $200-$250 is their new normal.  And no, I'm not paying it.  I got into MP because I thought Has/Tak would never do a complete G1 cartoon cast, but by the end of Kingdom they'll have done most of the G1 cartoon cast just between Prime Wars, War for Cybertron, and Studio Series 86.  My interest in dropping $100-$200 for an MP figure has diminished, and dealing with Fans Toys, their fans/scalpers, and the preorders that sell out like they were PlayStation 5s has me especially sour.  I'm going to try to complete their Menasor, because their Stunticons have been really good and there's just the one left, but I'm not buying Skullcruncher, which means I'll probably sell Weirdwolf and Mindwipe, and while I'm at it I'm pretty tempted to sell their mediocre Aerialbots, too.

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Posted (edited)

I think the scarcity of FansToys products will go away. The past year probably saw a bad combination of limited factory time and limited raw materials due to shutdowns and than high demand after the shutdown ended.

Combine that with people having more disposable income due to not going on vacation/partying and stimulus checks while feeling bored sitting at home all day and you got a overheated market with more demand than supply.

The scarcity and higher demand of resources probably also factored into the higher prices.

And while I agree that MP-44 set a bad president for pricing already before stuff like the FT Insecticons fetched ridiculous prices on the aftermarket and I’m sure FansToys is well aware of their market. 

Edited by Scyla
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7 hours ago, Scyla said:

I think the scarcity of FansToys products will go away. The past year probably saw a bad combination of limited factory time and limited raw materials due to shutdowns and than high demand after the shutdown ended.

Combine that with people having more disposable income due to not going on vacation/partying and stimulus checks while feeling bored sitting at home all day and you got a overheated market with more demand than supply.

The scarcity and higher demand of resources probably also factored into the higher prices.

And while I agree that MP-44 set a bad president for pricing already before stuff like the FT Insecticons fetched ridiculous prices on the aftermarket and I’m sure FansToys is well aware of their market. 

personally i think FT is well aware of all the "scarcity" and is doing it all on purpose, artificially.  i also think some retailers hold back stock to sell later at inflated prices helping to further foster the "premium" pricing.  also yes i realizt here are mateiral issues, shippign issues etc making things more spendy but in the end the price increases are not about offsetting new costs but going upmarket to cash in on bigger margins.

also totally agree with Mike here "And the fans don't get it, either.  I warned them when the price tag for MP-44 was first revealed that people should not buy it, that doing so was giving Takara tacit approval to charge those sorts of crazy prices in the future.  While none have been that bad (Arcee was fairly reasonable, even), Hound, Bee, and Starscream were all a lot more expensive than similarly-sized figures from the pre-MP-44 days.

And the fact that people were willing to buy at those prices has emboldened both Fans Toys and XTB."

for my part i did skip mp-44 even though its fricken optimus (heck at least we had TE, MS, and good old MP-10, the mp-44 ko that came out later was a real mixed bag of crap btw).  FT although not always reliable will try to fix their issues - takara will never help you out with hound or mp-44s knees there so thats one plus for FT.

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3 minutes ago, Mechapilot77 said:

for my part i did skip mp-44 even though its fricken optimus (heck at least we had TE, MS, and good old MP-10, the mp-44 ko that came out later was a real mixed bag of crap btw).  FT although not always reliable will try to fix their issues - takara will never help you out with hound or mp-44s knees there so thats one plus for FT.

I was under the impression that Takara's customer service is reputable as long as one is buying their products in Japan and has a Japanese address. Outside of Japan, one has to rely on the reseller's service and not all resellers are the same. Some are willing to sacrifice stock to resolve customer issues and others are not. It's unfortunate, especially given the partnership that Takara has with Hasbro globally. Hasbro could definitely afford to change the situation and set up the infrastructure to support international customers but they've decided against it to save on operational costs. What's worse is that they've also stopped marketing MPs domestically. These are now available as Takara imports only, even on the Hasbro Pulse website.

Yeah, in this regard the more well-known 3P manufacturers are doing it better. I'm not willing to say it's all sunflowers and roses, though, just that Takara could learn a few things that would certainly improve their standing among fans. 

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Hasbro's tepid to non-existent desire to promote and expand the domestic market for the premium toy line of its most lucrative franchise seems a bit counter to business 101. Hasbro knows there's an audience, certainly a far greater audience in the West than in Japan for Transformers, so it makes little sense that they haven't worked out a strategy to ensure these things see domestic releases, as well as appropriate CS.  But, maybe Takara want autonomy over the MP line, and have it that way contractually. Sucks for fans outside of Japan, as you have to deal with middle-men, even Hasbro in this case, which always raises prices, not to mention all the S&H issues, and uncertain support. It's a sucky situation that seems to have no favorable resolution any time soon.:(

 

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On 7/8/2021 at 7:07 AM, mikeszekely said:

This.

And the fans don't get it, either.  I warned them when the price tag for MP-44 was first revealed that people should not buy it, that doing so was giving Takara tacit approval to charge those sorts of crazy prices in the future.  While none have been that bad (Arcee was fairly reasonable, even), Hound, Bee, and Starscream were all a lot more expensive than similarly-sized figures from the pre-MP-44 days.

Maybe you don't mean it that way, but I do feel a bit insulted by this. I do get it, I do my personal research and I know exactly what I'm buying into as I would assume many others do too. Value of something is determined by everyone's own personal quality gates and priorities and is not only a matter of the digits in a price tag. Additionally one should always factor in the degree of engineering, moving parts, paint application or the amount of accessories and how the sum of all of that is implemented. It is not a fair price comparison to say Hound or Sunstreaker are more expensive than Sideswipe or Prowl because build and approach are decidedly different between those two MP eras. I don't consider myself a zealot giving Takara approval just to rip me off, I'm giving Takara approval because I genuinely think what is on offer is value for money to me.

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39 minutes ago, lechuck said:

Maybe you don't mean it that way, but I do feel a bit insulted by this. I do get it, I do my personal research and I know exactly what I'm buying into as I would assume many others do too. Value of something is determined by everyone's own personal quality gates and priorities and is not only a matter of the digits in a price tag. Additionally one should always factor in the degree of engineering, moving parts, paint application or the amount of accessories and how the sum of all of that is implemented. It is not a fair price comparison to say Hound or Sunstreaker are more expensive than Sideswipe or Prowl because build and approach are decidedly different between those two MP eras. I don't consider myself a zealot giving Takara approval just to rip me off, I'm giving Takara approval because I genuinely think what is on offer is value for money to me.

It's not my intention to insult anyone, no. And if you feel you got your money's worth out of MP-44, well, value is definitely subjective. I personally didn't buy one because I didn't think it was worth that much. I later had the opportunity to handle one; my subjective opinion is that it's maybe worth half the MSRP.

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12 hours ago, lechuck said:

Maybe you don't mean it that way, but I do feel a bit insulted by this. I do get it, I do my personal research and I know exactly what I'm buying into as I would assume many others do too. Value of something is determined by everyone's own personal quality gates and priorities and is not only a matter of the digits in a price tag. Additionally one should always factor in the degree of engineering, moving parts, paint application or the amount of accessories and how the sum of all of that is implemented. It is not a fair price comparison to say Hound or Sunstreaker are more expensive than Sideswipe or Prowl because build and approach are decidedly different between those two MP eras. I don't consider myself a zealot giving Takara approval just to rip me off, I'm giving Takara approval because I genuinely think what is on offer is value for money to me.

I to own MP-44 and I do feel Takara threw all those (cheap to make) accessories in the box to rectify its high MSRP because paying 30k JPY for just Optimus feels excessive. On the other hand MP-44 is the best MP Optimus and the best entry in the Takara Masterpiece line to date.

@mikeszekely I’m probably part of the problem because I feel the Kuro Kara Kuri toys are worth every Cent I pay for them. And I can definitely understand why they cost that much more compared to the 3A offerings.

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5 hours ago, Scyla said:

On the other hand MP-44 is the best MP Optimus and the best entry in the Takara Masterpiece line to date.

Best official, or best MP Optimus period? Because (again, subjective opinion) I like both Magic Square's and Transform Element's better.

5 hours ago, Scyla said:

I’m probably part of the problem because I feel the Kuro Kara Kuri toys are worth every Cent I pay for them. And I can definitely understand why they cost that much more compared to the 3A offerings.

I've handled and owned enough Takara MPs to have opinions about their value vs their price. I'm not personally interested in the non-transforming stuff, so I don't have any opinions on their price/value.

I will say, though, that it's probably more reasonable and easier to budget for expensive display pieces on an occasional basis than to attempt to collect a transformable, MP-style toy of every character to appear in the G1 cartoon. Especially when you're including 3P and often buying multiple figures a month.

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12 minutes ago, mikeszekely said:

Best official, or best MP Optimus period? Because (again, subjective opinion) I like both Magic Square's and Transform Element's better.

I've handled and owned enough Takara MPs to have opinions about their value vs their price. I'm not personally interested in the non-transforming stuff, so I don't have any opinions on their price/value.

I will say, though, that it's probably more reasonable and easier to budget for expensive display pieces on an occasional basis than to attempt to collect a transformable, MP-style toy of every character to appear in the G1 cartoon. Especially when you're including 3P and often buying multiple figures a month.

I like MP-44 better than the TE and MS one. Granted, I only have the Nemesis variant of the 3rd party ones but I don’t think that makes a whole lot of difference.

I prefer the articulation, joint design, paint and materials on MP-44. I also find the transformation interesting. However the TE one has probably the most ingenious transformation. Especially how the hips transform.

What I find most fascinating is that MP-49, Black Convoy, is probably the worst of the three toon MP Primes I have, even though it is the same mold than MP-44. ^_^

Edited by Scyla
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I've never been in the position to handle MP-44 in person, but I'd love the opportunity if it presented itself. I think Takara do an amazing job with their engineering. That said, there are things about it that I didn't care for, both aesthetically, and in the transformation process, that had me looking elsewhere for a replacement for MP-10.  BTW, I fence sat for years on MP-10 b/c there were things about him that I wasn't crazy about, too, but at a much more reasonable cost, I eventually got a copy, and he's a cool toy despite having some proportional issues. The engineering of that toy for the time was brilliant, though.

Anyway, MP-44. I'm not a big fan of faux parts, and I didn't like how the cab wraps around the robot chest like a second skin. I just don't see the necessity. I also, and this is a very subjective, didn't like his fuel tanks in truck mode. They just didn't look right. I also didn't like the lack of the grey/silver stripe running around his cab. That's a salient feature of the character, and damn the animation for omitting it. The huge backpack was also a turn-off, and I'm not crazy about the inclusion of electronics, especially when the majority of spoken phrases are the Japanese VA and not Peter Cullen who originated the animated character as well as the live-action character. 

I chose Magic Square's Light of Freedom for my Optimus, and I remain very happy with that choice. It improved on all the areas where MP-10 was deficient while presenting a pretty toon accurate bot mode. The only negatives I have are the fiddly nature of his mirrors during transformation, and the lack of a connection point for MP-10's trailer. The latter seems a major oversight to me, but whatever. I display him in bot mode, and MP-10's trailer has been in storage for years, so not really an issue. I thought TE did an incredible, if highly novel and inventive transformation, especially their ability to reduce the trailer hitch section of the cab to a more realistic proportion. Ultimately, however, I liked more things about the MS version, and I've no regrets. Now I wish MS would give Doomsday, their brilliant legends class Megatron, the MP treatment, too, as I like the look of it better than MP-36's origami torso.

 

FYI, in doing quick research to jog my memory about Light of Freedom, and to spare myself a trip downstairs to retrieve the real thing, I ended up on @mikeszekely's 2019 review on the TFW2005 boards. Fun to read through it again after a couple of years.:hi:

Edited by M'Kyuun
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44 minutes ago, sh9000 said:

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LEK works quick.

I'm not a big fan of the cell shaded look, but credit where it's due, Lek is incredibly talented, and he certainly elevates these figs he paints to an even greater artform. I find it challenging to do simple paint jobs, so this level of talent is astonishing.

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This review is long overdue, as I picked up the figure in March or April from a certain store that I don't frequent so much anymore that offers stacking and free shipping over $150, so he'd just been sitting waiting for something else to come up (and half the stuff I'd preordered I wound up canceling and buying elsewhere when they decided to be the last place on Earth to get their stuff in).  Anyway, it's Fans Toys Spindrift, an MP-style Seaspray.  No, not the guy I reviewed back in 2017.  No, see, X-Transbots came out with their own Seaspray, and it was pretty definitively better than the original Spindrift.  Well, I guess someone at Fans Toys decided they didn't want to live in a world where an X-Transbots figure bodied one of theirs that hard.  Rather than move to another planet they decided to just take another crack at Seaspray, and as a guy with a lot of Seasprays I found myself reluctantly picking up Spindrift 2.0 despite being pretty happy with Neptune.

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Well, we've just started and I have to admit that Spindrift 2.0 definitely makes a strong first impression.  I mentioned in Neptune's review that while I thought he looked fine, due to my impression of Seaspray being colored a bit by the G1 toy, that he was definitely a little slim compared to the super chonky animation model.  At that time, another reason I was cool with a slightly trimmer Seaspray was because it seemed like a necessary sacrifice to prevent the alt mode's proportions from being too wonky; at the time of Neptune's release ToyWorld actually had the most cartoony proportions in bot mode, and his alt mode was nearly as wide as it was long.  And frankly, Neptune was a fat slob compared to the first Spindrift, who looked like Seaspray after his wife left him so he started hitting the gym.

Whatever bot-mode sacrifices Fans Toys was willing to make then, they sure weren't willing to make them again.  Spindrift 2.0 is cartoon-accurate to a fault.  He's short, he's fat, his shoulders sit a little low, and he's not sporting any extra color on his torso.  The only molded details (the slats on his chest, the rectangles on the sides of his tummy, the rectangles and circles on his shoulders, and the circles on his shins) are all present on the animation model.  Yeah, I thought Neptune was a huge improvement over previous Seasprays, but side-by-side Spindrift 2.0 is definitely the more cartoon-accurate Seaspray.

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Spindrift 2.0 doesn't come with a ton of accessories.  Neither did Spindrift 1.0, but Neptune sure did.  On the one hand, most of Neptune's accessories are still in his box in my closet, and I'm fine trading accessories I don't need for a lower price.  But on the other hand, Neptune cost something like $20 less than Spindrift 2.0, so what are we paying for besides the Fans Toys logo on the box?  I digress.  You get a pair of blasters, and that gray color seems to be paint.  You also get an alternate, toy-style head.  Now, it's been suggested and I'm inclined to agree that while the face, with the lack of eyes and the vents on the mask, are definitely G1 toy, but the rounder helmet on this head is actually more cartoon-accurate.  Fans Toys' instructions imply that it's one head or the other, but I've been told that you can actually swap the faces out of the heads.  In practice, though, I removed the screws but couldn't get either head to split apart, so it looks like I'm stuck with cartoon-faced square-head.

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Fans Toys has a reputation for making figures that look great on a shelf but don't always have the best articulation.  That's certainly the case here, as I'd say that Spindrift 2.0 has what I'd consider the bare minimum amount of articulation for an MP figure, and less articulation than Spindrift 1.0.  His head is on a hinged swivel, with just a little up/down tilt and no sideways tilt.  His shoulders rotate and can extend laterally just over 90 degrees.  His biceps rotate, and his single-jointed elbows bend 90 degrees.  His wrists have swivels, but a transformation hinge blocks his wrists from rotating more than 45 degrees out and only a hair inward.  His thumb is fixed, and his fingers are all molded onto one curled piece pinned at the base like an old MP carbot.  His waist can swivel, but a transformation hinge under his beer gut will collide with his pelvis.  That, at least, you can get around by either pulling his gut out like you're going to transform him, or pulling his torso upward (again like you're going to transform him).  He does have a hip skirt that can fold forward, but it's a single flap for the whole front of his pelvis.  His ratcheted hips can get maybe one click short of 90 degrees forward with the skirt down, or one click past 90 degrees with it folded up.  His hip can go backward about 45 degrees, and friction laterally 90 degrees.  His thighs swivel around his hip joints.  His knees are ratcheted, too, and bend 90 degrees.  His feet can tilt down a bit, mostly due to transformation, and they have just about 45 degrees of pivot.  Why all the ratchets on a figure this small?  I'd guess that roughly 75% of him from the waist down is diecast.

Spindrift's guns fit into his hands in the time-honored tradition of plugging a tab on the handle into a slot on either palm.  The fit is nice and snug.

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Oh, and notice the square on the middle of his tummy?  While nothing is provided, if you have a Reprolabel or waterslide or something you can put an insignia on it.  Then, like the original MP Bumblebee, you can spin it around to hide the symbol in alt mode, as the symbol-less look is both toy and toon-accurate.

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Ok, so there's definitely some things I prefer on Neptune in alt mode, like the windows and such, that make him look a bit more realistic.  However, the largely featureless white rear is both toy and cartoon accurate.  And, in a move that's kind of surprising given how stocky the robot was, Spindrift 2.0 has the most G1-toy-accurate proportions of the three.

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As you can see, Spindrift 2.0 is a bit longer than Neptune, and significantly longer than Spindrift 1.0.  And from the front, he's less wide than Neptune and no wider than Spindrift 1.0.  This is impressive, even with an extra year or so of engineering vs Neptune and four on Spindrift 1.0, but perhaps the most impressive thing here is something that you almost never hear about a Fans Toys figure- the transformation is actually pretty simple and clever.  Really, transforming Spindrift 2.0 is much easier than transforming either Spindrift 1.0 or Neptune.  Fans Toys's secret is that, unlike pretty much every other take on Seaspray, they don't try to collapse his pelvis into his body or use his actual legs/shins to make the yellow bars on the roof.  Instead, parts of his forearm actually expand to cover his hands, his belly unfurls over his pelvis, and the section of the roof with the yellow bars is actually his backpack spun around to the front and double-hinged to cover his legs.

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In alt mode, Spindrift's propellers can spin, and he's got little wheels so he can roll.  That's about it.

Fans Toys included two different options for storing Spindrift's guns in alt mode.  The first is that there are little hatches on the roof, above the front windshield.  They're supposed to lift up, revealing a T-shaped hole that the handle of the gun can slide right into.  On my copy, though, the one side opened kind of stiffly but the other only opened a little before it seemed to just jam up.  Oh well.  There are also flaps on the side of the white end, and if you lift them up you'll see notches with a slot in them.  The gun handles can go down into the notches, with the tabs that secure them into his hands pushing into the slots in the notch to secure it in place.  Then you can fold the flap back down.

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There's one other option for storing his guns.  It's not mentioned in the instructions, but I can't imagine that it wasn't intentional, because it makes use of small tabs on the sides of the guns that have no other purpose.  If you look at the underside of Spindrift, there's hollow spaces where parts of his feet folded out to make the sides of the hovercraft.  There's just enough room in those gaps to tuck the guns into, and indeed you'll find slots on what is the inner edge of his feet that likewise don't serve any other purpose, but the tabs on the guns line up and fit into those slots perfectly.

Also, holy crap does Fans Toys love their visible-from-behind screws!  Did they really need three screws in each thigh?

Well, there you go.  Spindrift 2.0 is really good, you guys.  Push come to shove, I think he's better than Neptune.  Yeah, Neptune has better articulation, more accessories, a better price tag, and some details I do like in his hovercraft mode, but Spindrift has a cleaner, more cartoon-accurate look and better proportions in both modes, plus a better transformation and hidden weapon storage, which I always appreciate.  Is he better enough that it's worth upgrading if you already have Neptune, though?  The answer is subjective, but probably not.  But, if you don't already have Neptune on your shelf because you've been rocking the original Spindrift or, worse, ToyWorld's Seaspray, then you should definitely upgrade immediately, because Spindrift 2.0 is the level of upgrade over them that Kingdom Cyclonus is over Combiner Wars Cyclonus.  And if you don't have an MP Seaspray at all, Spindrift 2.0 is a no-brainer recommend from me.  The pros are really good, the cons are minor, and with XTB's already out, DX9 more or less out of the game, and MMC afraid to release competing figures anymore this is likely as good as it'll ever get for a guy like Seaspray.

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Thank you for the review Mike. I’m fairly content with Seaspray 1.0. Maybe I would upgrade if 2.0 goes on deep clearance, but I doubt it.

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Since War for Cybertron began Hasbro's released a number of Micromaster packs designed to give Siege/Netflix Soundwave, Siege Soundblaster, or Earthrise Doubledealer some minions.  With Laserbeak, Ravage, Rumble, Frenzy, and Ratbat release I think they've covered the important ones (save Buzzsaw), but Soundwave does have more minions.  And that's where Dr Wu comes in, with his Chatter set.

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Chatter comes in two parts, Orang Box, shown above with Siege Rumble and Ravage, and Eagle Box, shown with Frenzy and Laserbeak.  Orang Box is supposed to be Beastbox, and Eagle Box is Squawktalk.  Orang Box came out a little better, I think.  I actually have him a bit mistransformed (the instructions suck, but you can actually turn his sides so that his shoulders are up and back a bit).  He has a visible robot face on his butt, but he's definitely got an ape-like shape that's fairly similar to the G1 toy.  Eagle Box is a bit worse off.  He's got huge wings, but not the flip-out wing tips the G1 toy had.  He's got little feet, which is cool, but his body is basically his little bird head and a tail, with very little in between.

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Unlike the Hasbro Micromasters, these guys came with some accessories.  Out of the box they're attached to a sprue and have to be cut off (and, perhaps, repainted where they were cut from the sprue).  Once they're separated you have two weapons for Eagle Box and two for Orang Box.

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Orang Box can look up and down, and his neck rotates but that results in more of a sideways tilt.  His shoulders are on ball joints, so they can rotate and extend laterally 90 degrees.  His elbows bend 90 degrees.  His biceps swivel, but his wrists don't.  He does have a waist swivel.  His hips don't move forward or backward, but they move laterally for transformation.  No thigh swivels, and no foot articulation, but his knees can bend 90 degrees.

Eagle Box's head can tilt up and down, and his hips can move forward and backward (although both legs are one  solid piece, but most of his articulation is in his wings.  They're ball jointed at the shoulders with a swivel , then a hinge, then another swivel.  All-in-all, not impressive compared to most other 3P toys but significantly better than the WFC Micromasters they supplement.

The weapons tab into spots on the Box's backs.

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Orang Box and Eagle Box turn into... well, boxes.  Like the other Soundwave Micromasters.  They're about the same size, too, so this set was definitely intended for WfC; it's not really a substitute for an MP.

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Both boxes do fit inside Siege/Netflix Soundwave, although the fit was a bit tighter for Orang Box.

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G1 Squawktalk and Beastbox had a gimmick- they combined into a humanoid robot named Squawkbox.  And so, too, does Orang Box and Eagle Box combine into Chatter.  Chatter looks pretty good, I'd say.  He's got the tape details on his chest, the purple upper body and blue lower body, and the white hip skirt you'd want, but with better proportions than the G1 toy.  From other angles he does have a few flaws... mostly that he's got a monkey head for a backpack, and monkey legs dangling off his head like pigtails.

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His articulation isn't half bad.  His head can swivel.  His shoulders are on ball joints for rotation and 90 degrees of lateral movement.  His biceps swivel, and his elbows bend 90 degrees.  No waist swivel, due to how Orang and Eagle connect.  His hip skirt can fold up, so his ball-jointed hips can move forward, backward, or laterally 90 degrees.  His thighs swivel, and his knees bend 180 degrees on a double joint.  His ankles can swivel, and they pivot 90 degrees.

Eagle's weapons plug barrel-first into the back of Orang's, and the tabs on Eagle's plug into Chatter's shoulders.

Well, Chatter certainly isn't an amazing figure.  But, as I noted, neither are the official Micromasters.  Personally I'd rather get a WfC Buzzsaw, Slugfest, or Overkill, but if a WfC Squawkbox sounds like something up your alley Chatter will do, and he's only around $25.  Just temper your expectations.

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Appreciate the review, Mike. Being a cassette guy, and given that these are WFC scaled and fill a hole that'll otherwise remain empty for lack of crappy official versions, I have these in my stack somewhere and need to get them shipped eventually. For what they are, they do the job nicely, and as you mentioned, they have some significant improvements over the official cassettes. What a shame when the 80s toys were better. I still don't understand why Hasbro abandoned the realistic scale of the 80s micro-cassettes in lieu of this smaller scale, and much poorer execution. Anyway, I'd like to see Dr. Wu, or some other third party, do all the WFC cassettes with improved articulation/proportions with passable cassette modes. The official toys just leave me wanting for better.

I'm hoping Wu will do Grand Slam next. I still have my G1 toys, and while they're in excellent condition, the designs haven't really stood the test of time, and there's room for an update in the mainline.

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Well, yesterday I looked at something very small.  How about today we get large?  This is DK-19, an upgrade kit from DNA for Earthrise Scorponok.

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Well, if you'd asked me when Scorponok came out, three of my biggest complaints were that 1) he didn't come with a gun and cover like G1 Scorponok did, 2) he only came with two of those double-barreled cannons while G1 Scorponok had four, and 3), he had these flat purple panels with some silver paint on them in place of the thicker chrome parts G1 Scorponok had on his legs.  I said as much at the time, and even suggested DNA would probably fix it.  He we are, just a over a week to the day since then, and we have a DNA kit.  One that includes a big orange gun, a cover for the big orange gun, another set of double-barreled guns, and some parts to bulk out those flat leg panels.  Maybe someone at DNA is on Macrossworld, eh?  Also included are a pair of ankle fillers, and a clear face mask.  Note that the face mask is listed as a first-run gift, and was packed in plastic bag inside the box without an actual spot molded into the inner packaging.

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Installing this kit is pretty simple.  We'll start with the gift.  Just take the horns off Scorponok's head, clip the sides of the mask onto his ear holes, then plug the horns back on.  I suppose it does sort of enhance the G1 toy look, and it's more Headmasters accurate.  It also spaces his horns out a bit more from his head, which I dig.  I can't say that I felt like I really needed this, but in-hand I think I'm lukewarm to it where I expected to outright hate it.

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DNA would have you outright replace the original cannons with theirs, which have independently-articulated barrels.  As I said, though, the G1 toy had four total, so the more accurate solution is to have one set on the fronts of his shoulders, but the other set on the back.  Your call, but I'd go with DNA on the front and stock on the back (for now).

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The ankle filler is installed by taking the end of the piston-looking part and plugging it into a port (screw hole?) on the inside of his leg, marked in blue, then clipping it over the hinge on the back of his leg, marked in purple.  This will leave a flap covering the open gap on the inside of his foot.

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Remove the flat purple panels with the silver paint from Scorponok's legs, then plug them into the DNA parts.  Plug the new combined part back onto his leg.  It does bulk it up, but it lacks the smoothness of the original chrome parts on the G1 toy.  Again, maybe if I painted the entirety of the original part silver?  I'm not sure, but I find myself wishing that DNA replaced those panels outright with something a big closer to the G1 toy's.  Still, DNA's solution isn't really any worse.

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Lastly, we have the big gun.  The gray cover snaps onto it, like the original.  Then, although it looks like it has a handle that should fold down, there's just enough of a lip that it doesn't move.  Which is fine!  There's actually a 5mm peg, and it plugs into the orange circle on either claw (which is also like the original toy, if I'm not mistaken).

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And here we have our fully kitted-up robot, and I think that's definitely an improvement all-around, yeah?  Sure, I have some quibbles about the leg panels, but the problem there still stems from the original Hasbro parts.  Likewise, there's his dinky shield, which is a Hasbro problem again.  But the ankle fillers do their job, and the gun and extra shoulder cannons are two big-ol' checkmarks off my wishlist.  If anything, the improvements DNA made to add articulation to their shoulder cannons makes me want another set to outright replace Hasbro's (stay tuned).

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Robot mode improvements are great and all, but not if they adversely affect the other modes.  So, we'll flip him into scorpion mode, and yes, DNA included storage for the big gun.  Instead of folding out the last segment of his tail, you'll notice that the other side is a hollow hexagon.  And the butt of his new gun has a hexagonal shape that fits right in.

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As for the rest, nothing changes with his head, and the leg panels go on the sides of his legs same as always.  You keep one set of guns on his shoulders, then I put the other set onto his robot shins, G1-style.  The mask stays on, and the ankle fillers are supposed to.  That said, they do push his legs apart a bit.  Not so much that you might find it to be a problem; his tail still tabs in place onto them.  It's just enough that it's noticeable and it bugs me.

While we're at it, I really don't care for the rifle on his tail, either.  Of course, you could just set his big ol' gun off to the side, like you had to with the G1 toy.  That doesn't bother me.

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There's no major changes to the base mode, either.  You transform it the same, you use a set of shoulder cannons to hold up with leg panels the same, even with the extra DNA parts on them.  Just like the G1 toy, you pull the cover off the gun then plug the gun on one leg and the cover on the other to make towers, which I like.  Then, if you're using both set of shoulder cannons, it's just a matter of finding a spot for them.  At the ends of the purple ramps works.  The G1 toy kept them on the underside of the orange ramps, which are formed from the bottom of his feet on the Earthrise version.  Sadly, while Hasbro crammed 5mm ports on the bottom of like every other WFC figure for blast effects, Scorponok doesn't have any, so his extra cannons can't go on those ramps.

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The other problems I have are one minor, and one more major.  The minor one is that there's nowhere for the mask to when Zarak is in robot mode, as he might be if Scorponok is in base mode.  I can't fault DNA too hard for that, though, since the mask is technically a gift and not officially part of the kit.  The other problem, which will either not bother you or really bug you, is that the ankle filler means the green panels on Scorponok's legs don't fold over and sit flush.  If you think that just makes the green and purple panel collectively look more like a ramp then it's probably not a big deal.  But if you're like me, and G1 accuracy is your thing, the green panel needs to sit flush and the purple one sticks out at a 90 degree angle to replicate the hatches you could open on the G1 toy, where you could stick the elevator and the claw arm.

DK-19 technically does everything I asked for in a Scorponok upgrade.  Could it have done a little better?  I mean, it could have included four shoulder cannons instead of two so they'd all be articulated, but push comes to shove it gave me the extras I wanted.  It could have replaced the leg panels with something a little more G1, but it still provides something to improve the stock ones.  The ankle fillers do mess with the scorpion and base modes, but only a little, and removing them, either just for those modes or simply to not use them at all, is still an option.  And you get the big gun he was so sorely missing, with the same integration into base mode that the G1 toy had.  So, yes, I do suppose DK-19 could have been a little better, but even as it is it's a huge improvement over the stock figure.  Another lingering concern you might have after my last DNA review, DK-20 (their set for Studio Series Devastator) is that this kit could be junk like that one.  But, nope, it's solid and everything fits well.  So, while it's not a cheap upgrade on an already expensive figure, if you have Scorponok I highly recommend you pick up this kit.  I just makes him feel more complete.

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So, the DK-19 upgrade kit really went a long way toward making a pretty good Hasbro Titan even better.  But could Scorponok be even better?  I did want a second set of those shoulder cannons.  And his shield is kind of flat and dinky; in The Headmasters the Zarak Shield was Scorponok's answer to Fortress' Master Sword, so maybe it should be a bit more impactful.

Well, yeah, DNA's got me covered there, too, with another kit- DK-21 (20 was SS Devastator, in case you were counting).

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Beefier shield, check.  Another set of articulated shoulder cannons, check.  I could stop there, but we also have a new set of scorpion legs (mostly).  That's everything in the plastic packaging, but again there's a bag tossed in with this set's first-run gift, a translucent visor for Scorponok.  Oh, and a bag of screws.

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Installing the visor is pretty easy.  If you start to transform him so you can see behind his visor you'll find a screw.  You'll have to undo that screw (and since the whole hinge is friction clipped in place you can yank it off if you need to to get better access to the screw).  Slide the visor out, slide the new one in, and screw it back in place.  The idea here is that the translucent visor allows you to see Scorponok's eyes behind them.  In execution, though, it's a bit more like a translucent pinkish-orange than red.  Just my personal tastes, but I'm going back to the opaque one after this review.  Not really complaining, though; options are good, and this is supposed to be like a bonus gift.

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Installing the new legs requires the most work out of any of the parts in this or the DK-19 kit.  First, find the wheels (marked with blue arrows) and pop them out.  Set them aside.  Remove his entire tail, too, by pushing it off the friction hinge (marked with orange arrows).  Set it by the wheels.

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Splay out the scorpion legs, then find the four screws I've marked with blue arrows.  Unscrew them, then you can remove the whole purple parts that the legs are attached too.

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Replace them with the DNA parts, then screw them back in place with the screws from the baggy.  Now, go back to the old legs.  Notice how the legs have a hinge where they're connected to the purple part, a big knuckle that connects the first segment to the second, and then the tip.  Push at the knuckle so that the outside segment and the tip come off the inside segment.  Take the part of the leg you pulled off, and push it into the DNA leg, repeating until you've transplanted all the legs to the DNA parts.  Then pop the wheels and tail back on.

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As for the shield, you just take the Hasbro one and stick it onto the DNA parts.  Note that the entire shield doesn't fold the way the G1 shield does; instead, you have to remove the sides from it, and only the inner section folds.

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And the extra set of cannons replaces the Hasbro ones, so you have one set on the front of his shoulders and one set on the back.  Of course, Scorponok does have a number of 5mm ports, so you can feasibly use all six.  For G1 accuracy, though, I'm packaging the original cannons away in with the original legs.

And now, here we have Scorponok fully-armed with both kits.  I'd say that bigger shield and the second set of articulated cannons are an improvement (and, depending on your preferences, maybe the visor, too).  However, the effect is a bit less impactful than DK-19's.

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As with DK-19, an upgrade kit that only improves one mode at the expense of the others isn't ideal, so let's look at his other modes.  DNA did work out some storage for the new shield parts in scorpion mode.  Begin by removing the sides of the shield, and folding the inner piece.  Stuff it into the hollow on the back of the scorpion's tail, with the one side of the pedestal poking through under the tail hinge.  It doesn't lock into place, but when you put the original shield part in place under the tail as you normally would it'll hold everything in place.  So far, so good.

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Now, DNA suggests putting the extra cannons onto the sides of the robot legs.  You certainly can, but again for G1 accuracy I like them on top.  The sides of the big shield fold in on themselves, and you can stick them on the sides of his arms.  It'll do, but honestly I'm not loving it any more than I'm loving the gun on the tail.  I suppose simply leaving the shield off with the gun is an option.  It's how we did it on the G1 toy.

We can also observe in this mode the advantage of the new legs.  See, on the original legs they were built so that they they could move up and down where they're hinged to the body.  They were also build so that the front two legs one each side were once piece, and the back two legs were one piece.  While they could move independently of each other at the knee they were forced to move as one at the hip, then.  The new DNA legs improve this design by first separating the legs.  Now each one can move up and down independently at the hip and the knee, not just the knee.  But, they also added a hinge just below the hip that allows for forward and backward movement.  The legs can now spread out into better crawling poses.  Was this something I thought Scorponok needed?  No.  But it's something I'm glad to have now that it's in-hand and installed.

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We'll flip him into base mode, now, and check on that.  Well, as was the case with the old shoulder guns and touched on when I reviewed the DK-19 kit, the DNA shoulder guns can go in the same place as the stock ones, holding up the leg panels to make towers out of his arms.  It's just a matter of finding a place for the other set.  You could stick them on the leg ramps, like I did yesterday, or leave them on his shoulders... pretty much anywhere you can find a spare 5mm port works.  The folded-up sides of the big shield can plug into the arms, similar to how DNA has them in scorpion mode.  It's not the prettiest, but bulking up the arm-towers doesn't bother me the way adding kibble to the arms in scorpion mode does.  The sticking point is what you do with the middle section of the DNA shield.  DNA suggests just putting it at the end of the main tail ramp, where it doesn't actually secure in place that I can see, and would be a major road hazard for anyone driving down that ramp.  So, no, I'm not a fan.

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That being said, someone discovered another solution.  Pop the original shield part off the central structure.  Fold the DNA shield up, and put the Hasbro shield on it.  Then, get Scorponok ready by tucking his legs in like you would for bot mode, and opening the trap door.

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Drop the folded-up shield combo into the hold, so the pedestal is resting on the scorpion legs.  Tada!  You technically don't have to open the trap door, but the pedestal doesn't lock in place and I've found that the gap it sits in with the door open helps keep it in place.  Now, this does move the central structure forward, and you're giving up the trap door storage, but the central structure sitting a bit forward from the arm towers is pretty G1 accurate, and it certainly seems like a better option than blocking the ramp.  Or, you know, you could just leave it off to the side, yeah?

While DK-19 was a slam dunk, I think it's a bit easier to be on the fence with DK-21.  The new scorpion legs with the added articulation are nice, but not essential.  The bigger shield looks a lot better, but even if it was kind of small he still had a stock shield, so it's not as needed as the gun from 19 was.  The extra shield parts also don't integrate into scorpion or base modes as well as all the parts from 19 did.  Finally, while having four identical articulated shoulder cannons is good, the cannons in 19 plus the stock cannons at least give you four total cannons.  In other words, DK-21 improves Scorponok, but in a nice-to-have sort of way and not a way that feels essential like DK-19.

So, I'd put it to you like this- you should definitely get DK-19.  If you have DK-19, you have the money to spend, and you want a more complete upgrade then go for DK-21, too.  But if you get DK-19 and you're content you don't need DK-21, and if you're not getting DK-19 I would suggest skipping DK-21, too, as it really needs DK-19 to feel like a complete upgrade.

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46 minutes ago, mikeszekely said:

I think I like it, in both modes, better than MP-52. Still not sure I need to replace MT's, but if the price is right I might check it out.

I'm liking it a lot myself. If DS decides to release a version using the G1 toy paint scheme, they could get me to double dip. :ph34r: For now, I'm going to see how it goes and read up on what people think once this hits retail. I hope it's a solid release. ^_^

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2 minutes ago, technoblue said:

I'm liking it a lot myself. If DS decides to release a version using the G1 toy paint scheme, they could get me to double dip. :ph34r: For now, I'm going to see how it goes and read up on what people think once this hits retail. I hope it's a solid release. ^_^

I like how the foot transforms; that alone has me curious to handle one.

Like I said, too soon to commit to replacing all my Seekers, but if they do some of the colors Maketoys did that are a bit harder to come by (Acid Storm, Sunstorm, G2 Starscream) I'd definitely bite.

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From those angles, it looks much better than MP-52. The forward fuselage is a little too short vertically; it should come down to the base of the intakes, just above the robot chesticle section.  Those mains are really short, as even with a too-small forward fuselage to help with the nose gear height, the plane still looks like it's sitting at a nose-high attitude on the ground. Nitpicks. Overall, it looks pretty clean, a far more acceptable F-15 than the atrocious MP-52.

By way of comparison, Maketoys' jet mode is pretty accurate to the source, as is the NewAge, and both are more accurate than the DS, at least that forward section. Without a good profile shot, it's difficult to judge the tail section, and honestly, the only Seekers I've seen that even approached accuracy were MP-03, which was very close due to Kawamori's tinkering with the leg shape and foot design, followed by MP-11, which lost some of that accuracy in fighter for a slightly more accurate toon foot and blockier leg , which still looked awkward.  Maketoy's tail section is pretty squared off and a little chunky and would have benefitted from a taper or a nice angle, like the NewAge Seeker. NA's actually looks pretty good; it's a shame they didn't hide the foot internally, as it would have looked even better.

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1 hour ago, mikeszekely said:

I think I like it, in both modes, better than MP-52.

Damn you, Deformation Space!  Now I have to buy a whole 'nother set of MP seekers!

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It's an improvement all around, but wow that's a ton of joints in the tails.  I guess that's just the go-to method now.

As silly as the sandwich wing design on MP-52 looks, I actually think they fairly well nailed the tail section transformation.  Reminds me a bit of the Iron Factory (I think) transformation, that twisted and folded the tails and stabilizers around so they laid flat against the backs of the wings.

The more I see of the complex mechanisms these are using, the more I wonder how accurate they could get both modes if they just went all out, and made the whole jet turn completely inside-out to transform, hiding and collapsing the entire robot inside the fuselage, and then expanding the boxy structures to bulk out the robot.

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