Transformers (2007 Movie): Ratchet by Hasbro

Well, we had a nice interlude with some new Generations figures and some Masterpiece offerings and now it’s back to dredging the toy totes in search of new fodder for Transformers Thursday. I’ve got a bunch of Bayformers that I’m getting rid of via Ebay and, like Scavenger here, you may see some of them turn up on what Thursdays we have remaining until the end of the year. Why? Because this will be my last chance to feature them before they’re gone. I usually send my unwanted Transformers to my nephew, but I don’t want to inflict these things on that poor kid, so maybe I can get some comic book money from them. Anyway, today we’re looking at Ratchet.

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I’ve gone on record as liking the 2007 movie. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t what I wanted, but looking back at it, it actually seems like a quaint movie from a simpler time. A time before I realized that the franchise would be spun into three more terrible movies and that I would eventually give up and walk out of the last one. I didn’t even ask for my money back. I knew what hell I was walking into and I had no one to blame but myself. One of the few things the movies got right was keeping Ratchet as a doctor even if they did inexplicably change his alt mode from an ambulance to a Fire & Rescue vehicle. And to make matters worse, they made him puke green because… screw you Gwunners! Poor Ratchet’s character arc came full circle by the fourth movie in which he was horrifically murdered for no good reason other than to provide the final cause that drives Optimus Prime over the edge in his journey from hero to tragic war vet driven homicidal and insane by PTSD.

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The 2007 Movie release of Ratchet is a Voyager sized figure and apart from being the color of regurgitated pea soup, it’s not a bad alt mode. I still don’t see the point of making him a Fire & Rescue truck over an ambulance since it’s pretty much the same vehicle just with different markings. The markings are red and look terrible against the green plastic. The detailing on it is pretty realistic and while the sculpt is rather soft in areas you can still make out neat little touches like the tools bracketed to the roof and the cabinets on the sides for life saving equipment. The wire frame guards on the front, back, and roof add some nice complexity to the design and you get a big spare tire near the back of the roof. All in all, this is a chunky and solid vehicle mode and it rolls along great. It’s worth noting that Ratchet was repainted as Rescue Ratchet, with G1 themed colors.

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Transforming Ratchet isn’t terribly complex. The seaming on the sides of his truck mode suggest he’s a shell-former, but he isn’t at all. You do have to take the roof rack and spare tire off, but it can become a claw weapon or just attach to his back. The figure features some auto-morphing in the legs, but it’s hardly even noticeable. There’s also some clever stuff going on here, like the way his chest is formed by the upside down front of the car and the way his windshields split and travel to his back. There’s also some damn annoying stuff like the way the parts on the back of his thighs like to explode off of the figure when changing him. Those same pieces also do a lot to limit Ratchet’s leg articulation and in all honestly, I find Ratchet is better off if they’re just removed for robot mode.

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One of the things I like about some of the 2007 toys was their inability to mimic the complexities of the movie designs. Instead we got some chunkier and more boxy robots that looked like a more sensible blending of the old school figures and the crazy new designs. Ratchet is definitely one of those toys. I actually really dig the way he looks. He’s stocky and powerful looking and actually resembles something we might have seen in the Unicron Trilogy rather than a statue made out of broken scissors and car parts.

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The head sculpt is still a monstrosity, but in fairness it does resemble the character’s on screen portrait fairly well. Even the coloring doesn’t bother me as much in robot mode. What does bother me are those damn exposed screws on his shoulders. I hate when Hasbro does this with Transformers. Was there no way you could have put those screws in from the other side or plug them or do something with them?

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Ratchet’s claw weapon doesn’t impress me, but it’s a serviceable use for the roof rack, I suppose. I’m glad you can just hang it off his back, though.

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I’m still on the fence over whether or not Ratchet is getting dumped. I like the figure well enough, but with me unloading most of my Bayformers he won’t really have a place in my collection. I know I’m keeping Revenge of the Fallen Leader Optimus because I love that figure. If I can convince myself to just keep Ironhide, Bumblebee and Jazz, maybe it would be worthwhile just keeping the core Autobot team from the first movie. Maybe next time I’ll check out 2007 Movie Ironhide and see if it’s something I want to do.

And now for a couple of administrative notes… Next Thursday is Thanksgiving and as much as I am thankful for Transformers, I’m also thankful for a day off, so Transformers Thursday will return the following week. Hopefully I’ll have some new figures to look at by then, but if not it’ll be another trip to the Tote of Bayformers… and nobody is thankful for that!

There will also most likely be no new feature tomorrow as I have my studio torn apart for renovations. If the work is completed early, I may get to squeeze some work in, but if not I should definitely be back with content on Saturday.

Transformers (2007 Movie) Barricade by Hasbro

Tomorrow is the day that Michael Bay drops another Transformers movie on the world and I will likely be in attendance, albeit not in any state even approaching sobriety. And with Age of Extinction hitting tomorrow that means that today is indeed the final week of Transformers Thursday held hostage by the Bayformer Menace. I was going to go back to a random grab this week, but then I thought about the trouncing that I gave Bumblebee last week and decided to go with something that had more potential for positivity. Barricade was one of my favorite Transformers in the first movie. Why? Because I love Decepticon cars and I love Mustangs. My first three cars were all Mustangs. Needless to say a Decepticon Mustang was practically an instant win in my eyes. It’s been a couple of years since I had this figure out, so let’s see if he still rocks as much as I thought he did.

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Well, the vehicle mode sure does! You get all the sexy contours of the car right down to the spoiler and “SALEEN” sculpted into the back. You also get a translucent lightbar, translucent headlamps, and a ramming bar on the front. The toy is molded in black plastic and while it doesn’t quite have that new car sheen that I would have liked, it still looks great. Barricade features clear windows and a clear windshield, although the rear windows are all molded in plastic. Did you know that one of the original Barricade Mustangs was sold for only $36k at auction. Shit, I would have paid that!

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Besides being a very nice mold of a custom 2005 Saleen Mustang, the deco on this baby has some lovely callbacks to the car used in the movie. In addition to the snappy painted doors, you get that wonderful Decepticon police logo just behind the front wheel wells and the tiny “to punish and enslave…” motto above the rear wheel wells. I absolutely loved that little touch in the movie and was really glad that it made it to the toy. Additional points to the deco include his car number on the roof and again on the front bumper and “POLICE” emblazoned across the rear spoiler.

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Barricade features also features a minor gimmick. You can flip down the ramming bar and pull out a Frenzy figure that’s stored within. The figure isn’t much to crow about and it’s a little too large to be in proper scale, but it doesn’t hurt the vehicle mode at all, so I’m cool with it being there as a nice little bonus.

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Transforming Barricade to robot mode is pretty simple and unfortunately his bot mode isn’t quite the slam dunk that the car mode is. Like most of the 2007 movie figures, he’s a much simpler representation of the “bag of knives” robot design seen in the movie, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I also like the traditional way in which the front of the car becomes his chest and while he does sport chicken legs, they aren’t as obvious as other figures in this line. On the downside Barricade’s proportions could be a little better. He really doesn’t have much of a torso, instead his hips kind of just connect to his chest.

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And then there are those arms. Most official pics of him I’ve seen have the shoulders pointed straight up, although they are ball jointed, so you can position them in different ways. I tend to point them down and outward so the wheels are showing. The forearms feature a terrible spring-loaded gimmick that extends Barricade’s arms and the springs don’t hold well and they almost always activate while I’m posing him. It’s one of those examples of a gimmick that sadly harms the toy and would have been better left out.

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I thought Barricade had one of the better portraits in the movie and I think this toy captures it quite well. There’s a lot of sculpted detail on his noggin and the addition of some gold paint and red light piping in the eyes really helps it along. Indeed, all the deco on Barricade’s robot mode looks good as it features a little bit of metallic silver and purple to make the black and white pop.

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In the end, Barricade gets a thumbs up. I totally dig his car mode and even though there are things that could have been done better with his robot mode, he’s not a total loss. In fact playing around with him makes me wish that I had picked up the Human Alliance version when he was out on the shelves and not going for a bundle on the second-hand market. Either way, I think this was a good choice to end the Transformers Thursday Bayformer Hostage Crisis. I don’t think a lot of these toys have aged well, but there were definitely some worthwhile figures in this line and Hasbro did their best engineering toys based on some ridiculously complex and ugly character designs. So far I’m holding my own on my promise to myself to not pick up any Age of Extinction figures and that will be the first Transformers line that I take a complete pass on in… well, ever.

Transformers (2007 Movie): Dropkick by Hasbro

Last Thursday I was in the middle of a whole G.I. Joe thang and Transformers Thursday got pre-empted. I had hoped I could come back to it this week and look at some Energon figures or maybe something from Armada, but no, the Bayformer Hostage Crisis continues. I think this is Week #7 but I may have passed out and lost count somewhere along the way. Either way, I’m looking at another movie toy. And so, I dug my mitts into the Bayformer Tote and pulled out… this guy.

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I have no idea who this is. I’m guessing he’s another one of those Expanded Universe figures from the 2007 Movie. Hang on, while I hit the googles… OK, it’s… Dropkick? Really?? Part of the reason I’m starting to thin out my Transformers collection is because of figures like Dropkick here. I’m being totally honest when I say that I had no idea who he was when I pulled him from the tote, and yet at some point I walked into a store, pulled him off the peg and bought him. If I can’t even remember his name and I have no meaningful connection to the character, than I have to ask myself, why do I own him? Maybe he’s just a really bitchin’ toy? If he was, I’d probably know his name, but let’s press on and find out.

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As we’ve already seen Dropkick is a pick-up truck. The sculpt isn’t bad, but maybe a little plain. He does have a really suspicious sliding knob on the cap in his truck bed. What’s that all about? Well, as you can see above, it’s a giant pincer claw that comes out of the tailgate. That doesn’t seem terribly practical. Don’t tailgate Dropkick or he’ll deploy his pincer and scratch your front quarter panels! Still, if you don’t like it you can take the whole thing out, giving Dropkick just a regular empty bed. Let me also point out here that Dropkick’s truck mode does not stay together well. I think a lot of it has to do with his spring loaded head and hood parts. He wants to pop apart at the slightest inclination and it’s almost impossible for me to get the roof or the passenger side door to stay tabbed into place all the way.

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The deco here is kind of ugly. First off, he has a giant Decepticon insignia that takes up the entire hood and roof of the vehicle. Hey, Dropkick, ever hear the expression, “robots in disguise?” Why don’t you just paint a giant target on yourself? Optimus Prime ain’t no touchy-feely robot of peace in these movies. When he finds you, he’s probably going to rip off your face and blow a hole in the back of your head. But it isn’t the garish faction symbol that I find so ugly here, it’s the bare grey plastic that looks like all the paint has been stripped off and we’re look at a truck’s primer. It makes the toy look unfinished. The front bumper also looks like it’s screaming for some additional paint apps. Blah. Let’s transform him and see if the robot mode is any better.

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Dropkick has some cool stuff going for him. I like the way his windows angle to form his chest. It’s a lot like the movie Optimus Prime design only executed better than it was on the 2007 Prime figure. There’s also a ton of intricate sculpting to seen behind those shields. I also dig the dual blasters that fold out under each hand. And while it took me a while to warm up to them, I’ve grown to like the “chicken-leg” aesthetic that came out of the movie designs.

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On the downside, look at all that truck kibble up around the shoulders. It might not be so bad if those giant chunks of truck with the front wheels didn’t flop all over. Also, those doors are inexplicably spring-loaded so they automatically stick out like that. The ability to tuck those back would have cleaned up Dropkick’s profile a lot, but they just spring right back into position. I’ll also note here that Dropkick is yet another Transformer who’s shoulders will not stay pegged in for love or money. Before every single shot, I had to repeg those suckers back into place. Lastly, the torso mode could have used some more paint apps. All that sculpted detail looks so bland in that bare grey plastic. Hasbro put some wonderful paintwork into the Revenge of the Fallen toys, but they sure skimped a lot on these 2007 Movie figures.

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I do like the head sculpt on Dropkick. It’s very simple and very un-movie-like. Instead of looking like some kind of rabid space bug, he just looks more like a proper 80’s Transformer with a mouth plate and a visor. The antenna on the sides of his head are cool and I like those droopy ear things on his “helmet” it makes him look like a sad Decepticon. Awww… It’ll be Ok, Dropkick! Here, have an energon cookie.

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Dropkick is by no means a terrible figure. He’s got some personality to his design that makes it impossible for me to totally hate on him. Unfortunately, he’s also got plenty of issues that hold him back from being anything better than average at best. And that’s even after I’ve bumped him up a few points for being a Decepticon truck, because I usually love Decepticon trucks. I had to consider this one carefully. Do I keep him or pack him into a box bound for my nephew in New Jersey? It was a tough call. Especially with him looking up at me with that sad face. But in the end, I decided I didn’t really need him in my collection anymore. Sorry, Dropkick, you’re headed to the Garden State. It’s been nice knowing ya!

 

Transformers (2007 Movie): Brawl by Hasbro

It’s Transformers Thursday, and I believe this is Week #6 of TFT being held hostage by the Bayformer menace. Today my random grab into the Transformers Movie Tote pulled out Deluxe Class Brawl from the first movie. Or is that Devastator? Yeah, the people making this movie cared so little that they couldn’t even get the name of the character right. How did they not even clean that up for the home release for Chrissakes? Anyway, there’s no in-package shot so let’s jump right to Brawl’s alt mode.

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Yup, he’s a tank. He’s actually a pretty nice looking tank too. You can say a lot of bad things about some of these movie toys, but for the most part they had really good alt modes. There’s some nice attention to detail in the sculpt, including bolts, hatches, mesh grating, and the individual wheels in the treads. Brawl sports a simple green camo deco that’s appropriately understated for his military nature. There’s nothing flashy or terribly special here, and certainly not a lot of visible paint apps, but it’s a solid effort that leaves me with no complaints.

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Brawl’s tank mode even features a decent amount of articulation. The main turret will turn left and right as will the secondary turret on top of that so the smaller guns can track flanking Autobot targets while the main gun is pounding away at something else. You also get two small missile packs mounted on ball joints on top of the main turret. Brawl is basically guns on top of guns, and I can’t imagine a Decepticon would want it any other way. I should point out that Brawl’s main gun can fire a missile, but like most of my ’07 Transformers, I have no idea where that missile got to.

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Transforming Brawl is surprisingly simple for a movie toy. The engineering here is so intuitive that’s it’s hard to believe the designers were able to get such a great robot and alt mode out of him. At heart, this robot mode is a great nod back to G1 Brawl with the front of the tank making up the chest and treads packing away neatly on his legs. The turret forms a backpack and it’s very clever the way his arms unfold from the turret so that the main gun from the tank lands on his right arm. You gotta love the arm cannon! It’s enough to make Megatron jealous. Another cool touch is the way the two guns peek up behind his shoulders just like G1 Onslaught. The plows on the front of the tank form a set of vicious chest armor, and he has a wicked claw weapon that folds out from his left wrist.

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While I’m generally not a fan of the Bayformer portraits, I like Brawl’s headsculpt quite a bit. It downplays the whole insectoid look that some of the other bots have and there’s some pretty good light piping here too. I also really dig the way the treads land on his shoulders. It reminds me of the pieces that some medieval armor had to help prevent decapitations in combat.

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Alrighty, so Brawl features a solid tank mode and a really great looking robot mode, but guess what? As a toy he’s still a piece of crap. Why? The shoulders! The shoulders are designed to tab into the torso and they simply will not stay locked into place. Get one in and the other pops out. Try to manipulate his arms and they pop right out. Stand him on the shelf and look at him funny and they pop right out. Dig a hole in the back yard and bury him… I’m going to guess they’ll still pop right out. Just trying to get some shots of him in robot mode with them still attached had me gritting my teeth in anger and frustration. Wait… why am I getting a sense of Deja Vous? Could it be that there was another Decepticon tank that had a floppy shoulder problem that ruined what was an otherwise fantastic figure? Of course there was… It was Generations Blitzwing. It’s nice to know that Hasbro learns from their mistakes.

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And so what started out promising ends up a bust. Brawl has so many great things going for him, but it’s all for naught because of two goddamn tabs that won’t stay in place. It really hurts too because I wanted to love this figure so much. When I pulled him out of the tote I definitely recalled having some bad memories about this guy, but it wasn’t until I transformed him that I remembered those damn shoulders. But what really sucks is that I never ponied up for the Leader Class version of Brawl that now goes for ridiculous amounts on the secondary market. A design this cool deserves a solid figure and this Deluxe just ain’t it, but I hear that Leader version is quite a beauty.

Transformers (2007 Movie): Arcee by Hasbro

It’s Week #5 of Transformers Thursday held hostage and I’m looking at Transformers based on the live action films up until the release of Age of Extinction. And hey, lots of in hand pictures and reviews of the AoE figures have hit the Interwebbings last week and I’m now more comfy than ever about saying that I won’t be buying any of them. Anyway, today I reached my mitts into the dreaded Tote of Bayformers and I picked out Arcee from the first live action movie. Of course, she didn’t appear until Revenge of the Fallen, so this figure is one of those Expanded Universe kind of efforts. This figure is also another one in which I remain so very torn. Let’s take a look at her alt mode.

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So someone, somewhere and at some point decided that Arcee was going to be motorcycle and that’s been the case ever since. I seem to recall that it was the Energon line that first gave her that alt mode, but please someone correct me if I’m wrong. In this case, Arcee is a sporty purple crotch rocket and I have to say this is one kick ass alt mode. I’ll concede that the use of what is a very Decepticon-ish deco of purple and black gave me pause at first, but the shade of plastic is so gorgeous that I just don’t care. Toss in some very sharp metallic gold and silver paintwork and you have a very sexy looking motorcycle.

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But this bike shines even beyond the striking deco. The attention to detail here is just killer. The sculpting in the wheels, the engine, and even the chain on the motor is all dutifully recreated. The handlebars and brakes are sculpted, the rear view mirrors are there, and the contours of the front shield, seat and gas tank all look amazing. The piece is finished off nicely with some silver lettering, an Autobot insignia and a fully detailed license plate for Massachusetts. I’m not sure the significance of that, but I do appreciate the detail. There are a few minor bits of robot kibble visible, like her hands hanging off the back, but I’m still prepared to say that this is a Five Star vehicle mode.

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And then there’s this. Ok, so I’m probably going to surprise some people when I say that I do not hate Arcee’s robot mode. It would be more accurate to say that it’s so close to being great, I hate the few lazy things about it that hold it back. Let’s go with the good stuff first. Hasbro did a really fine job transforming a motorcycle into what is a fairly feminine looking figure. She’s got the long legs, the shapely thighs, and the robot equivalent to high heeled boots. She’s even got a bit of a chest and the slender arms help hammer the gender of the robot home. Even the front of the motorcycle and the front wheel fold fairly neatly onto her back. And as with the motorcycle mode, Arcee’s deco in robot mode really shines. You get a lot of the same gorgeous purple plastic with black accents and some really attractive gold, silver, and blue apps all along her torso. I love the detailing on this figure and I love the way the color scheme and quality of paint compliment it.

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So, for me the most aggravating thing about Arcee are the half wheels on her shoulders. They’re ungainly, awkward, and I don’t like the way that they just flop around using gravity to keep them pointed down. There are actually a couple things you can do with them, including folding them into her chest like this…

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To me that looks better, but it severely stifles both the articulation and the proportions of her arms, so it’s not really a viable fix for me. What kills me about the wheel shoulders is if Hasbro had just made the hinge that they’re on able to bend back as well as forward, you could have neatly folded these back and out of the way and I think the figure would have been vastly improved by it. Granted, I don’t know what’s involved in costing out additional movement like this, but the hinge is already there for chrisakes. Just give it a little extra movemenet. Sheesh!

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And then there’s that head sculpt. Arcee’s face looks kind of like a robot cartoon chicken. Or is that just me? Her lips look like a beak. Either that or possibly a sex doll… only because I read about those once. Needless to say, I’m not all that keen on Arcee’s portrait. I will say that the paintwork is nice and the blue light piping in the eyes is pretty good if you can get it just right.

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The back of Arcee’s bike comes off during transformation and converts to a missile launcher. Alas, I couldn’t locate her missile, which usually isn’t a big deal, although in this case if you insert the missile the sides pop out to make it look like a crossbow. It’s a very cool weapon, but without the missile in place, it just looks like an arm blaster.

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Arcee’s got some problems. You get an amazing motorcycle mode, some great coloring and quality paintwork, counterbalanced by a really bizarre head and some unfortunate shoulder kibble. The problems I have with this figure could have been easily fixed, but I’m not sure if they were lazy design elements or just poor design choices. Still, when you consider the monstrosity that was Revenge of the Fallen Arcee, this release doesn’t seem so bad at all.

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen: Skids and Mudflap by Hasbro

Hey TransFans, it’s Transformers Thursday again and as I threatened promised last week, TFT is getting hijacked by Bayformers! You know what that means…

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100% MORE EXPLOSIONS! No, actually it just means that I’ll be looking at figures from the three Michael Bay movies as we approach the impending release of Age of Extinction where Optimus Prime will ride Grimlock into battle while bellowing, “I came in like a wrecking ball.” I’m 41. I’m both ashamed and dismayed that I am hip enough to make that reference. Anyway, just to pour salt in everyone’s eyes let’s kick things off with everyone’s favorite racist robot twins… Skids and Mudflap… as an ice cream truck.

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Obviously the packaging is long gone, but I can still remember how hard this figure… er, these figures… were to find. At the time they were going for a fair amount of money online and I finally found one in a CVS or a Walgreens of all places when I ran in to get some cough drops and flu medicine. At the time I wasn’t really committed to buying a lot of Revenge of the Fallen figures, but this was a freaking transforming ice cream truck. How could I not buy that? I don’t care if freaking Uwe Boll made the movie, I can’t not buy a Transformers ice cream truck. Satan himself could have come up with this idea and I still would have applauded and supported it.

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Besides being an ice cream truck, I also love the fact that it’s a vintage one. There’s something about Transformers with vintage alt modes that does it for me and Revenge of the Fallen actually gave us a few of them. It seems like the Go-Bots were a lot more willing to do stuff like that. Anyway, this is a great looking alt mode, complete with soft serve swirl on the top and a loudspeaker to blast the music. The two-tone white and pink colors work well for what it is and the ice cream cone tampos and lettering show that Hasbro went that extra mile for this truck. I’ll confess to be a little put out that it doesn’t have “Decepticons, suck my popsicle” anywhere, but I’m guessing that was deemed a little inappropriate for a kids toy. The deco is bright and cheery as opposed to the rusted out vehicle used in the movie, but if you look closely enough you can actually see where Hasbro included rusted spots as part of the sculpt. I should add that this is a really solid and sturdy alt mode when you consider that it pulls apart to become two robots. Let’s look at the front half first. I’m proud to say I had no idea which robot was which, but a little research tells me that the front is Skids.

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Oh, sweet Jesus. Ok, I’m going to try to be a little generous here. For a figure that’s engineered from half a Deluxe alt mode, it’s hard to come down really hard on Skids. I don’t like his arms, I think they could have been done better. I don’t get why his right arm has a real hand and the left one is just sculpted in and left unpainted. I think the whole gimp hand was part of his character design and I don’t really get it. I think only Michael Bay gets it. I dig that he wears the truck’s grill as his chest and I dig the way the old-timey fenders become his shoulders. If Hasbro ever did a proper vintage Transformer, I’d like it to use a similar design element. Everything else is pretty bad. His tiny legs can barely support his upper half and as for the head sculpt… I had forgotten how terrible the Bayformer portraits were. Let’s see if Mudflap fares any better…

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Nopenopenopenope… No! Without any recognizeable parts of the vehicle to base his robot mode on, Mudflap just looks like a goblin made out of shifting plates and linkages. He’s a perfect example of the jumbled mess that passed for a lot of Bayformer designs. Ok, so there’s something undeniably appealing to me that his shoulder slats read “Creamy Ice Cream” and he has ice cream cones tattooed on his forearms, but he’s still a freaking mess.

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So, high marks for a great alt mode, but it’s hard to find anything to love in these robots. I have to give some credit for trying something different and I can’t deny that the scale had a part in crippling the outcome. Had this set been a Voyager sized vehicle, I think it could have been a lot better. But it still would have been limited by what are two of the worst Bayformer designs. Maybe I should just relax and try to see these guys as goofy and fun and be happy that something this bizarre exists. Does the charm of a Transformer ice cream truck cancel out the horror of Devastator’s wrecking ball testacles? I don’t know. No one does. There’s no quantifiable scale to make the comparison. But I can safely say that this was at least one interesting idea that came out of an otherwise horrid movie.