Transformers Animated: Blitzwing by Hasbro

Ah, Ross, you’re like the retail chain store version of a rummage sale! I always mean to go in there more often because the toy graveyard they have set up in the back occasionally nets some good finds. Unfortunately, it’s not all that often and so I get discouraged and stop going, and then who knows how much good stuff I miss out on. My last  trip was motivated by word on the Interwebs that the elusive last assortment of GI JOE 25th Anniversary vehicles were showing up. I had no such luck, but I did come home with three Transformers: Animated Voyager Class figures for $11.99 each.

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I’ll let the packaged shot speak for itself and instead take this time to throw out a little background, although I won’t go into my feelings about this cartoon series. I’ve seen some of it, but not enough to form a solid opinion yet. Suffice it to say I’m definitely not its target audience, but I want to give it a chance. Still, being the unabashed Transformers whore that I am, I decided to check out some of these figures when they first came out. I picked up Deluxe Bumblebee and Ratchet and was pleasantly surprised. I still haven’t gotten around to doing Features on them yet, but hopefully soon. The plastic seemed a little funky compared to other Transformers lines (seriously, Hasbro, what’s up with that?), but once I got past the wacky animated look, I found that the figure designs were pretty good. A little while later I bought my first Animated Voyager, Blitzwing, and it was the biggest piece of crap I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the figure, but rather the fact that the one I got was all sorts of messed up with loose parts, broken parts, etc. The quality was worse than a knock-off. Needless to say it soured me on pursuing the line any further. Apparently, the deal at Ross was good enough to get me to try some of these again, as well as try my luck at getting a decent Blitzwing. So we’ll start with him. True to his G1 namesake, Animated Blitzwing is a Triple Changer and also like his forefather, his two alt modes are a tank and a jet. Blitzwing is packaged in his jet form, so let’s start there.

aniblitz2His jet mode is obviously the primary alt form, in other words, it’s the one Hasbro put most of the work into, although a lot of this figure feels like a three-way compromise. Overall, the jet looks pretty good, especially for a triple changer, and from the top down, there’s not a whole lot wrong with it. You get a grayish-tan body with some purple and black mixed in, and a glossy black cockpit with a gold Decepticon emblem stamped on it. From a side or profile view, the huge, exposed treads make for some obvious tank kibble, but all in all, I dig this mode.

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And then there’s Blitzwing’s other alternate mode. If you’re expecting anything resembling a real tank, you’ll be woefully disappointed. This form is a tank only in the sense that it has treads and a turret. It’s hard to figure whether this is supposed to be some kind of futuristic tank in the animated style, a Cybertronian tank, or just a super-deformed mess. That having been said, there are some cool things at play here, like the way the jet’s wings form the plating on the tank’s body. Images have these two pieces fitting together flush, but mine always seems to leave a gap. The guns and missiles are made up of the jet’s thrusters, cast in translucent orange plastic. The turret turns and the missiles shoot, but it does not raise or lower.

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I really like Blitzwing’s robot form. He’s got a few things in common with the traditional G1 Seeker model, with the cockpit and nosecone of his jet mode forming his chest and his wings coming off of his arms. Even the “helmet” gives off a strong Conehead vibe for me. The wings on the arms can be folded back, but they tend to get in a way more in that position, so I usually leave them hanging off the side of his arms.

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His backpack, which is made up of the tank’s turret, can be positioned in a few different ways. Point the missiles up, or turn them facing down for a nice looking jetpack. You can also space them further apart so that they protrude less and are closer to his shoulders. I’ve shot him using both configurations, but I think the later is my favorite. The obvious thing missing here is any weapons. Blitzwing doesn’t come with a gun and his missile launchers can’t really be positioned in a way to fire from his back. I suppose if you can turn into a tank, you don’t need any weapons, but still. A Decepticon without some kind of gun or arm cannon just doesn’t feel right to me.

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Blitzwing does have a gimmick that’s ripped off of Man-E-Faces from the Masters of the Universe line. He has three different faces, which can be rotated with a thumb wheel on the back of the head. It’s an odd thing to see in a Transformer, but if you watch some of the few episodes of the cartoon that actually have Decepticons in it, it makes sense for the character. It really doesn’t detract from the figure all that much, so I don’t have a big problem with it. Also, those things on the top of his head remind me of Hellboy. I just can’t unsee it.

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The articulation here is pretty good. Blitzwing’s head rotates, his shoulders have universal movement and his elbows are double hinged, and his wrists are hinged. He also has swivels in his biceps. His legs have universal movement in the hips, his knees and ankles are hinged, and he has swivels in his thighs. There’s a conspicuous lack of balljoints, but Blitzwing’s articulation isn’t wanting because of it.

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I’m happy to finally have a decent example of this figure. I don’t know if the first one I got was just a fluke or if there was a widespread QC issue with these figures, but having one that isn’t broken to hell makes all the difference. As much as I’m not all that impressed with his tank mode, he’s still a great looking robot and ultimately a fun figure. Given the added challenges of designing a Triple Changer, I’d say Hasbro did a pretty good job here.

*This Feature was updated with new photos on 6/12/16.

Doctor Who: Warrior’s Gate Fourth Doctor and K9 by Character Options

Just about every Doctor made some kind of subtle change to his iconic outfit during the course of his tenure and CO has been doing a nice job getting all the different versions out, whether it be in these two-packs, exclusives, or in the massive Eleven Doctor set. This time around we get the long awaited Fourth Doctor donning his 18th Season outfit. CO chose the episode Warrior’s Gate as the basis for this set and bundled him with hit trusty tin dog K9. I could go on and point out that this was a missed opportunity to toss Romana in there too, but I guess CO isn’t quite ready for classic-era companions… yet.

If you’ve picked up any of the recent Classics two-packs, then you know what the packaging looks like by now. It’s the same old clamshell with illustrated insert. It features a blue swirly pattern, the figure is mounted against an orange backdrop and the package uses the 2005-2009 series logo. The back panel has a little blurb about The Fourth Doctor’s final days and K9. Of course, K9 doesn’t take up as much space as a regular figure, so there’s a lot of empty space in the bubble. I’m thinking CO maybe would have been better off mounting K9 higher up in the bubble to even out the presentation. Either way, I don’t really care, as I’m just ripping this thing open.
  The Fourth Doctor is not a mere repaint, but a completely new figure from he previous releases. He sports the long burgandy trench coat, buccaneer boots, and a brand new scarf, which this time is easily removable without having to pop off the Doc’s head like the original release. Alas, his shirt lapels are not sculpted over his coat, so he’s not showing off the question marks on his collar. I would have liked that. His head sculpt is completely new too. It’s leaner than the past release, which I suppose depicts the older Tom Baker in an accurate fashion. I definitely like this head sculpt better, and that’s saying a lot since the old one was pretty good too. Apart from the scarf, there isn’t a whole lot of dynamic paint work going on here, but what’s here is good. All in all, this is another excellent figure that really captures The Doctor perfectly.

The Doctor’s articulation is almost the same level we’ve been getting for a while now. You have a rotating head, arms that rotate at the shoulders, hinged at the elbows and swivel at the wrist. His legs have universal movement in the hips, hinges in the knees, but no swivels in the thighs. It’s an odd little omission, but I don’t think it hurts the figure all that much.

The Doctor comes with… no accessories. Seriously, CO? Seriously? You can’t throw a tiny little Sonic Screwdriver in this set? You’ve already got it sculpted, and yet you couldn’t just stamp out a bunch of them for this set? Yeah, it’s disappointing and almost insulting that the tiny little plastic rod wasn’t included in this package. Still, he can always borrow the one off my other Fourth Doctor, I suppose.

Ok, so I suppose K9 is more an accessory than an actual figure. He’s the exact same one that was released with Rose Tyler several years back, which is fine by me since it’s an excellent little plastic version of the tin dog. There’s really no articulation here, although you can press down on the computer bank on his back and his side panel pops off revealing his inner workings. His tail and ears are made out of bendy plastic to avoid breakage. I can’t think of much more CO could do to improve on this design, except maybe include a tiny little extended blaster to plug into his nose, but then it’d have to be so small, I’d probably lose it in a second. K9 also features the same pull back and go feature as the previous release. I really don’t mind owning two of these, since I can race them now! And besides, considering how badly I wanted to own a little K9 figure when I was a kid, it seems only fitting that I should have two now. [three, actually, if you count the rusty R/C version -FF.]

The Warrior’s Gate set sells for around $29.99 at most e-tailers. It’s nice that CO recognizes that K9 doesn’t weigh in at the same cost of a regular figure, and so this set was ten bucks less than the past Classic two-packs. On the other hand, he was a repack of an older figure, so they might have gone the extra mile and shaved off another five bucks, especially with all the money they saved not including the tiny Sonic Screwdriver. I don’t mean to sound bitter, I really love this set, and if you don’t already have K9 he’s a really great pick up. I can certainly imagine that there may be collectors out there only buying the Classic figures and if that’s the case, K9 would be new to them.

On a parting note, the Warrior’s Gate set was released simultaneously with another Classic two-pack based on Attack of the Cybermen. You won’t be seeing that one reviewed here, as it’s the first Classic figure release that I won’t be buying. I think it’s cool that CO produced it, but I already have that version of the Sixth Doctor, and I’m not so keen on owning the variant Cyberman that I’d spend $40 on the set. CO has also revealed Classic sets based on Revenge of the Cybermen and Remembrance of the Daleks, although confirmation of a US releases of these sets is still pending.

Transformers Universe: Constructicon Devastator by Hasbro

I’m going through combiner withdrawl as I await the new Power Core figures to hit the brick-and-mortar stores near me. So, in the meantime, I delved into my Transformer totes to find a combiner of old to look at. Ok, so he’s not that old. This version of the Constructicons is based on four molds originally created for the Robots in Disguise line of Transformers back around 2000. They were originally Autobots, but Hasbro used the Universe line to bring them back in 2006, recolored them in G1 Constructicon colors and viola, we have a pretty cool homage to the original Decepticon gestalt team, albeit with two robots less.

I’ve long since discarded the packaging on these, but they came in two sets of two figures each. One set included Bonecrusher (the bulldozer), and Scavenger (the backhoe) and the other included Hightower (the crane) and Long Haul (the dumptruck). They came packaged in simple window boxes with the figures mounted in their construction vehicle modes. These sets were also Target exclusives and the Targets in my neck of the woods had a ridiculous number of them available. Even when they hit final markdown on clearance it seemed like there was still an entire endcap left.




The vehicle modes are all very solid and about the size of current Deluxe class figures. Back in the Robots in Disguise line, the original issues of these molds were sold at the Deluxe class price point. They all have the distintive G1 Constructicon color combo of lime green and purple. Although Scavenger stands out a bit as having a lot more purple than green, and I would have rather Long Haul’s dump bed be green as well, but on the whole the homage works.

Two of the vehicles have some articulation. Scavenger’s scoop is hinged and can rotate a bit. Hightower has the best feature of the bunch, as his crane can convert into a laser cannon.

All of these figures are pretty easy to convert and considering they are combiners their robot forms are mostly solid. Long Haul and Hightower share a very similar body design, especially on the legs and arms, but there are enough little changes to make them fairly unique figures. It’s kind of unfortunate that Long Haul’s big Decepticon chest emblem is upside down when he’s in robot form. High Tower’s crane can be converted into the laser cannon and positioned over his head for a little added firepower.

Bonecrusher is the runt of the litter. He’s small, but a very cool little robot, and at least his Decepticon chest insignia is facing the right way. The scoops on his shoulders are a bit obtrusive, but apart from that he looks great. I really dig his headsculpt too.

Scavenger is the black sheep of the family. Or is that purple sheep? Besides his color being at odds with the others, his robot mode has two serious issues: His arms. Not only do they look like ridiculous Popeye arms, but their articulation is useless. It’s a shame because the rest of this figure is fairly solid.

Obviously the real draw here is that these guys can merge to form Devastator. It’s a pretty unique combiner system, as there are only four robots. There are several ways to make the combination, but I stick with my favorite that uses Long Haul and Hightower as the legs, Bonecrusher as the front of the torso and Scavenger as the back and arms. The only hard part involved in the combination is getting Scavenger just right since nothing on him really pegs together for his Devastator mode. On the flipside, thanks to a really clever three way locking point, the combined figure holds together really well and the Devastator color scheme looks so much better than the original colors of these figures when they were originally released as part of Robots in Disguise.

I have no idea how much these figures go for nowadays, but I can’t imagine it’s all that much. These molds never seemed to be all that popular with fans and if the Targets in my area are any indication, Hasbro overproduced the hell out of these figures. Personally, I love this set. It’s a perfect example of a recolor homage improving the original figures to the extreme. This Target set was also way better than the Walmart exclusvie of these figures, which had them all painted yellow with silver energon patterns.

WildC.A.T.S. GIANT Sized Grifter by Playmates

So, you thought it was safe to come back without having to read any more of my gassing on about WildCATS figures? Oh, no no no. Don’t pass out on me yet. We’ve got one more to look at. This time around it’s one of Playmates’ self-proclaimed GIANT sized WildCATS figures. Playmates produced three characters in this larger scale: Spartan, Maul, and the one we’re looking at today… Yep, my favorite loose cannon of the WildCATS: The Grifter.

The package is a nice big window box with all the busy-ness of a Las Vegas billboard. Just check out some of my looks at Playmates’ Star Trek figures of the 90’s and you’ll see how much they love to scream at you with the package. In this case, the running theme seems to be GIANT, GIANT, GIANT!! I like the comic book style illustrations on the box, but the colors seem a little dull. Maybe my box is faded, I don’t know. The back panel of the box shows all three of the GIANT figures and includes a bio on Grifter. The Grifter figure is secured to the inner tray with twisties and his two blasters are mounted to the left and a collector card is mounted to the right. This is pretty collector friendly packaging. If you’re patient, you can get the figure out and get him back in for display with no worries. Also like the aforementioned Star Trek figures, Playmates did the whole Collector’s Number on the package thing to make you think you were buying some kind of rare and limited piece. Mine is numbered 7,428, which is actually the lowest number I ever had on a Playmates figure… by about 100,000.

While Playmates calls this a 10″ figure on the package, keep in mind he’s pre-posed so as not to be standing erect. He is defintely in the 1:6 scale, which would put him more in line with what we all consider the 12″ standard. And keep in mind, while this figure has a passable amount of articulation on paper, in reality, there’s only so much you can do with it, which sets him right in the middle of the whole statue vs. action figure debate. In theory he’s an action figure, in practice, I think he’s more a statue with some articulation. But we’ll discuss the articulation in a minute.

Essentially, this sculpt is the exact same one used on the smaller figure, just blown up to GIANT size. It’s still an excellent sculpt, but Playmates uses a much softer plastic on this guy than on the normal sized figure. Softer plastic means softer sculpt, plus you’re dealing with a sculpt designed for a much smaller figure. Add the two together and you are definitely losing something in the process. That’s not to say this is a bad looking figure, because it certainly isn’t, but unless you’re just looking for a nice big display piece, you will likely be more happy with the detail on the smaller figure. Apart from that the essentials are recreated nicely here. I like the determined, I’m going to kick your ass, expression in his eyes and the billowing of his trenchcoat works well if you have him just standing or in a running or lunging pose.


The colors are close to the smaller figure, but muted. While everything on the smaller Grifter was high gloss, GIANT Grifter is mostly flat matte paint with just a little gloss showing through on his shirt and mask. The flat paint used here is more realistic, but I tend to prefer the bright shiny gloss on my comic book figures. The red used on his mask and gauntlets looks a little deeper and definitely less vibrant. Playmates also changed the color of his belts from gold to green, probably to reduce costs.

GIANT Grifter has nine points of articulation. His head turns, his arms rotate at the shoulders and have swivel cuts in the forearms. His legs rotate at the hips and have swivel cuts at his boots. You can definitely get him into a few different stances, but there’s still only so much you can do with this articulation and his slightly pre-posed nature.

Grifter comes with his two trademark Kherubim blasters. These are decent sculpts and he can hold them very well in either hand. He also comes with a huge figure stand, which is the exact same stand that came with his smaller version, only GIANT.

So, if you haven’t sensed the theme here, it’s bigger but not necessarily better. I like this figure a lot, and I love having a huge Grifter to display on my shelf, but I wouldn’t trade my smaller one for this one if I had to make the choice. Nevertheless, he’s a cool item, but as soon as I had him in hand, I knew I didn’t need to hunt down the other two GIANT figures. Grifter’s my favorite, so I’m content to have him in this size, but I just don’t need Spartan or Maul. If you are interested in picking any of these up, they are just a little tougher to find than the regular sized figures, but they are definitely out there and you still won’t pay a lot for them. I seem to recall getting Grifter here for less than $20, shipping included.

Transformers Hunt for the Decepticons: Hailstorm by Hasbro

The newer assortment of Deluxe Transformers are starting to hit the stores near me and a few days ago on my weekly grocery run to Wally World, I picked up Hailstorm. He’s one of the few figures in the Hunt for the Decepticons line that I was really looking forward to, probably because he’s one of the few that isn’t just a repaint/rehash of a Revenge of the Fallen figure. He was kind of a surprise to me, as I had only first seen the early release shots of him about a month ago, but as soon as I saw him I was eager to pick him up.

The packaging? Blah. It’s a simple card with the figure mounted in its alt form. I don’t have much else to say that hasn’t been said before. It’s serviceable and it has a short blurb about the character on the back. Nothing more, nothing less. Good thing, too, since my card is all bent to hell. Usually this only happens when I order from Walmart online, but this mangled mess came right off the peg. They had better ones, but I decided to leave those in case a mint-on-card collector needed one. Yeah, I’m cool like that.
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Hailstorm’s alt mode is a missile carrier, which is perfect for a Decepticon. He’s green with a spattering of white and black camo on the sides. It’s pleasantly conventional and adds a nice touch of realism to the deco. The sculpt is certainly solid for a Deluxe figure, with great detail on the molded treads and the cab. The missile launcher can raise and lower and turn, and all eight of the missiles are removable. On the downside, Hailstorm’s alt mode would have benefited from some more pegs to hold his front end together better. You really need to get everything stowed away perfectly for his alt mode to work, and even then the front feels a bit soft if you handle it. As mentioned, the treads are sculpted, but he does have four concealed wheels and he can roll along fine.
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In robot form, Hailstorm retains the same basic color scheme as his missile carrier mode, with only some gray added. I like it because the military deco still suits him in bot form. He’s a stocky robot with over-developed biceps and really short, stubby forearms, but I love his overall design. It falls somewhere between the Bayformer look and the more boxy Classics/Generations style. He’s got a mean looking head sculpt, and his missile launchers peg nicely into position over his shoulders to give him the same amount of firepower in either mode.
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Hailstorm has solid articulation, with balljoints in the neck, shoulders and hips. His elbows have are double jointed with additional balljoints at the forearm, and his knees and ankles are hinged. At first, I thought his claws were articulated too, but there not. That’s probably too much to ask from a deluxe.
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This figure is definitely a big hit for me and I think that even the Bayformer-haters out there may want to give him a look. I think he’s a great example of compromise between the opposing schools of Transformer design. In fact, with a different head sculpt, he probably could have been released in the Generations line and no one would have really known the difference. Eh, then again looking at those arms… maybe not.  Either way, he’s an excellent addition to any Decepticon army. Check him out if you get the chance.