Transformers Cybertron: Sky Shadow by Hasbro

Yeah, it’s March and I’m still going on with my Cybertron marathon for Transformers Thursdays. At some point this month I’ll have something new to look at… I promise! In the meantime, we’re heading back to 2006 to check out what is oddly one of my favorites of the line… Sky Shadow! It’s worth noting that this mold was first released as the Cybertron version of Jetfire. Up until now, I’ve been featuring repainted releases together, but I sold off my Jetfire long ago, so he won’t make an appearance. And that’s just as well. The mold never worked for me as Jetfire, but I think it’s perfectly suited as a Decepticon. Let’s start with the alt mode…



Yup, Sky Shadow is a giant airplane. I don’t think it’s an exact copy of any real world design, but to me it looks like a military cargo plane. Whatever it is I really dig it. Sky Shadow has a huge wingspan with four engines on the main wings and two more on the rear. He also sports a pair of missile launchers on the outside of the main wings. He looks as ungainly and ungraceful an aircraft as I can imagine, and again it’s just an inspired design for a Decepticon transport.




The deco on this toy really suits it. You get some gold, maroon, and gray all of which looks good on a Decepticon jet. It’s amazing that you can mix this many colors and still get a such a drab and industrial result. It’s also a great example of how much more time and money Hasbro used to spend on paint operations back then. The skin of the craft is also covered with sculpted panel lines, vents, and all sorts of little details, and while there’s no open compartment in there, you can lift up the back of the tail to simulate loading the cargo bay.


The flip up back is actually part of the the CyberKey gimmick and it’s pretty crazy. It causes the entire tail end of the plane to coil up like a scorpion tail, mount on the top and reveal a twin gun accompanied by a cacophony of electronics. Actually, it’s not much of a reveal, since the translucent yellow guns are always sticking out the back. Still, it makes for a damn cool attack mode. The transformation is pretty simple and straightforward and the result is pretty majestic.


This is a powerhouse of a robot with a massive and stocky build. His broad wing shoulders just go to show that Sky Shadow cares nothing for your personal space. The way each set of engine pods become the arms is pretty cool and the deco transfers really well to his robot mode.


Of course, he’s got a whole lot of something going on in the back. The back half of the aircraft makes for a really bulky backpack, so it’s lucky he has those little heel spurs, because even with those massive lower legs, he’d topple over without them. He’s also hollow in the middle of his torso, but hey no bot is perfect. Surprisingly, his CyberKey gimmick isn’t readily accessible in his robot mode. It seems like a no brainer to have those guns angle up over his head, but it’s all tabbed together to make up his torso, so all he can do is shoot straight up. I think there is actually a robot attack mode, but I remember it being balls out crazy and I’ve conveniently forgotten how to do it.


I’m pretty sure this is the exact same head that was used for Jetfire, which I’ll concede is a little disappointing. When you’re ponying up for an Ultra Class repaint that’s meant to be another character the least Hasbro can do is give him a new noggin. I like the head well enough and I think it works as a Decepticon, but it’s also a tad on the small size.



Sky Shadow’s missile launchers come off his wings and serve as hand guns. He looks really good wielding them akimbo, but these babies have super sensitive hair triggers. I’m sure I’ve said that about a lot of Transformers from this era, but in this case it’s ridiculous how many times these fired while I was shooting the photos.


While I do love this guy, he’s not without his share of issues. In fact, if he had an old fashioned bio card it would read “Function: To Stand There and Look Intimidating.” It’s not that he doesn’t have decent articulation, but the wings are unfortunately tied to his shoulder movement, so if you want to pose him his arms in any extreme fashion, it involves changing the look of those sexy up-swept wings. That’s a bummer. Also, there’s got to have been something better they could have done with the ends of the engines that dangle off his elbows. Yes, you can fold them up to get them out of the way, but then they just interfere with his elbows.


Even as I spent this morning boxing up another Ebay Lot of Transformers from this series, Sky Shadow stands as one of the few Cybertron figures on my “Never Sell” list. And wouldn’t you know it, he’s one of the few that actually held on to his value over the years. That’s the story of my life. The ones I want to keep are always the ones that are actually worth selling. I’m no economist, but I suspect that has something to do with supply and demand. Even still, I’m pretty sure he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but his distinctive design really does something for me. It’s nice to have a Decepticon aircraft that isn’t a sleek combat jet and his robot mode… well, it sure looks awesome standing on the shelf.

Transformers Cybertron: Optimus Prime by Hasbro

I’ve spent all of February’s Transformers Thursdays meandering around 2005 and 2006 looking at some Cybertron Transformers before kicking them to the curb via Ebay. This involved a lot of digging through totes and matching up missiles and CyberKeys and all sorts of bullshit that I have little patience for. But hey, at least it gives me something to do while listening to Podcasts. Eventually I got to the bottom and found this beauty. The big daddy of the Autobots. Cybertron Optimus Prime. And while there’s no way in hell I’m letting this guy go, I thought I might as well take a look at him because he’s just such a fabulous toy and quite frankly I’m amazed that in six years he hasn’t had a Feature here on FFZ yet. As always, let’s start with his alt mode…


I seem to recall that the official name for this is his Super Truck Mode, but without all the extra parts that makes it “super” he’s really just a flatbed truck, so I pretty much consider this the regular alt mode. Taking a page from 1999’s Robots in Disguise, Prime is a firetruck… I think? He’s mostly red, he has a light bar on top and he has a couple things on his back that look like they could sort of be interpreted as ladders, but are really just giant assault guns. So, maybe it’s supposed to be a firetruck, but in reality it’s a beast of a battle wagon. Oh, and don’t pay any attention to those folded wings on the sides because they’re not wings. Did I call them wings? Well, they’re not.


While there’s admittedly some ugliness here and there, I actually dig this alt mode a hell of a lot. It’s bristling with sculpted detail, from panel lines to texturing, to the tiny faux rivets holding everything together. In addition to the red and blue and gray plastic there are some nice silver paint apps on the sides and some crisp Autobot tampos on the cab.


The cab is just all sorts of badass. The angled front windshield makes him look wonderfully vicious and the front bumper makes for a great battering ram to blow through barricades or any Decepticon fools who happen to stand in his way. If you were to weather the hell out of this thing it would look right at home cruising the badlands in a Mad Max film.



As with all Cybertron toys, Prime comes with a CyberKey, which activates either of two attack modes. Unfortunately they’re pretty lame. For the first one, you plug the key into the back of the longer gun and the front splits open and activates some lights and sound. Meh. The second one is even less impressive as it just deploys two missile launchers off the sides of the smaller gun-ladder thing. I do dig the fact that Prime’s Key is pretty unique. It’s all translucent blue except for the red paint on the Autobot emblem. It also looks a little like The Matrix.


Remember when I said those things weren’t wings. Ha Ha, I fooled you, because they totally are! Yes, Prime also has a second flight alt mode. Yeah, it’s just the truck with wings and a few tweaks to the guns. You know what? I still dig it. Plus, when you fold out the guns in the middle, there’s room for him to carry a smallish Deluxe or Basic figure in its alt mode in there.



To transform Prime into his robot mode you have to pull all the extra bulk off his vehicle mode and set it aside. You’re left with a flat bed, which is fun in itself because you can use it to carry Jetfire around. You can also attach the two  extra guns to his back to give him some firepower in this stripped down mode. Transforming Prime is pretty simple, although some may cry foul that his chest in robot mode is faked out and not actually the front of the cab. I’m OK with it because the resulting robot looks really good…



Awww, yeah! That’s good Prime! Yes, he’s a bit stocky (and I’ll show you the fix for that later), but dammit I was absolutely blown away by this toy back in 2005 and I’m still really impressed with him now. He’s a powerful looking robot and this isn’t even his final form! There’s plenty of homages to the Prime we all know and love , not least of which is the overall color scheme and the windows making up the chest. I really dig the placement of the wheels on the figure and those powerful shoulders look great. It’s almost like Hasbro was deliberately trying to apologize for the Energon Prime figure by making this one so awesome.



The head is a bit large, but that’s because he shares it with his powered up robot mode. It’s definitely Prime, but with some new elements to the design. Probably the coolest is the inclusion of a flip up mouth plate that allows you to choose what kind of mug you want your Prime to have.


The articulation here is also surprisingly good for the era. Prime features rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in biceps, hinges in the shoulders, hinged knuckles, universal movement in the hips, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the knees. The head can rotate. The only downside here is that there’s no waist swivel. All of the joints are incredibly solid and satisfying. Prime is a crazy fun toy that feels great in hand and is lots of fun to play with.


Prime’s gun is about as far from his familiar G1 Buster Rifle as you can get, but I still dig it. It’s got a knuckle guard and it pegs into his hand to help him hold it. It’s also a missile launcher, but I’ll be damned if I can find any of the missiles for this guy. PRIMUS, HOW I HATE THROUGH BAGS OF LOOSE MISSILES! 




Last, but not least, Prime’s chest opens up to reveal a removable Matrix of Leadership. It’s just one more thing to make an already amazing figure just a bit better. Oh wait, he also has a Super Powered-Up Mode, which uses all the parts from his trailer. To start that process, you transform the backs of his legs into larger feet. and attach two of the gun pylons on the backs of his legs…



Before moving on any further, I’ll point out that this is actually how I display Prime in his basic robot mode. I think the longer legs and bigger feet give the figure much better proportions. You also get a pair of flip up cannons on his legs and who the hell doesn’t want that? Then again, why stop at leg cannons, when you can have this…


SWEET MOTHER OF PRIMUS! When Cybertron Prime is sick and tired of your shit, he goes straight for the nuclear option by strapping a set of wings onto his back and two giant guns onto his shoulders. This is the Optimus Prime equivalent of Death Blossom. He looks like he could shoot Decepticon space cruisers out of orbit with these babies. I wasn’t a big fan of this mode back in 2005 when I got the figure. Maybe it’s sublety was lost on me. Whatever the case, I must have been crazy, because I’m sure as hell digging it now. It’s destruction taken to the most absurd level possible and that’s a beautiful thing.


One of the clever little things about this assault gear is that it doesn’t just peg into Prime’s back. It actually fits him like a real backpack with hinged shoulder straps that go over his shoulders and peg in under his arms. And yes, you can fold the guns back, but doing so makes it almost impossible for him to stand up.



Cybertron Optimus Prime is an incredible toy, not just for its time, but it still is some 11 years later. One of the great things about packing toys away for a while is that you can fall in love with them all over again when you eventually rediscover them and I’m sure I had a huge smile on my face the whole time I was playing with him. This thing looks great, has a ton of play value, and pays respects to the iconic hero while still bringing some originality to the table. When you consider the leap that this is from Energon’s Optimus Prime (a figure I do not hate, I might add) it just makes this release all the more miraculous. Long after the bulk of my Cybertron collection has been scattered to the wind, this Optimus will still reign supreme on my shelf… or maybe in a tote. Either way, I’m proud to have him.

Transformers Cybertron: “Jungle Planet” Optimus Prime and Megatron by Hasbro

Yes, folks, this February Transformers Thursdays are all Unicron Trilogy all the time and to be honest, I have yet to venture outside the Cybertron line. Bear with me, there will be new Transformers coming in March, but for now, let’s travel back to 2006… yet again. It’s the 10th Anniversary of Beast Wars and Hasbro had a bizarre little homage for us in the form of two Cybertron Deluxes of Optimus Prime and Megatron in Jungle Planet versions that looked suspiciously like Optimus Primal and Megatron from the great Maximal and Predacon War.


And that’s because these molds were actually part of the Beast Wars 10th Anniversary revival and released in their proper Beast Wars colors in commemorative style window boxes. Why, Hasbro felt the need to repaint them and release them as part of the Cybertron series in the same damn year was always a puzzle to me. But I bought them anyway, mainly because I never found the Beast Wars versions at the TRU’s near me.  Let’s start with Megatron and his alt mode…


Megsy is a totally bitchin’ techno T-Rex and I absolutely love this mold! It’s loaded with sculpted panel lines and crazy contours that make it look just a little bit H.R. Giger inspired. There’s also surprisingly little robot kibble to be seen, even if you flip him over and check out his undercarriage.


The deco consists of two green tones with some purple bits showing here and there and some black, brown, gold, and silver paint. Holy shit, Hasbro was not stingy on the paint hits back then! I’ll be honest, I would have preferred the more purple Beast Wars version over this Jungle Planet theme with all the green, but he’s still plenty cool.


Articulation here also makes for a very fun toy in beast mode. There are ball joints in the “hips” and “shoulders” and hinges in the “knees” and “ankles.” You also get a hinged jaw with a sculpted tongue in there. It’s hard to believe they could get this beast mode so right and so many of the Grimlocks that would follow so wrong. It’s also worth noting that while most Cybertron figures had CyberKey gimmicks in both robot and alt modes, this pair only have them in their robot modes. And speaking of robot modes… Megsy’s is gorgeous!




Ooooh, yeah! A big part of transforming Megsy here requires pulling off his tail. Maybe some would consider that a cheat, but if it’s any consolation, the tail becomes a weapon he can hold, and he is technically holding it while in beast mode. So, let’s let him slide on that. Besides, without the tail in his hand, his left arm looks really gimpy. Either way, this I’m totally down for this robot mode. The way the torso flips into place is cool as is the engineering on the left shoulder, which folds down and neatly into place. And that head sculpt… Yessssss!




Of course, he has the same dino-head right hand that Beast Wars Megsy had and as mentioned, the tail becomes a bludgeon he can hold in his left hand and inserting the CyberKey converts it into a missile launcher. This figure is both a great little homage to Beast Wars Megatron and a pretty fine original piece on its own. Unfortunately, this feature is going to start skidding hopelessly out of control as we see how Optimus made out…



Sweet Primus, what happened here? The fact that Optimus’ beast mode sucks so much quite frankly surprises me. I would have guessed the engineering from monkey to robot would have been easier to work with. I don’t hate this, but I don’t love it either… in fact, I don’t even think I like it. Prime’s beast mode seems to cling more to organics with sculpted fur, but there’s still some techno parts showing and the face looks particularly robotic. It’s an unsettling mix that kind of creeps me out.


That face! Oh no. No no no no no no… no! And while the articulation is overall good with ball joints all around, Prime’s monkey mode feels like it’s intended to just stand there on his feet and knuckles. Let’s see if his robot mode can sell me on this figure…



Better! Although, this is one of the most frustrating transformations I’ve dealt with on a Deluxe in a long while. Why is that? The Beast Wars toy wasn’t anywhere near this annoying. Halfway through I just had a pile of limbs, all interconnected on reciprocal hinges and a mess that looks like a gorilla had an accident in a teleporter. Fortunately, the end result is actually pretty good.



This is a lovely little re-imagined Deluxe version of Optimus Primal and finally a fun figure to play with. The sculpted chest with the silver and red paint looks great and the same articulation that felt rather wasted on the gorilla mode makes for a great robot mode. The head sculpt is a home-run too. Oh yeah, Prime comes with his hover board for his gorilla mode to ride on and… OH F’CK, I HAVE TO CHANGE HIM BACK??? God dammit… be right back…



There. You happy? There’s a god damn robot monkey riding a hoverboard… sideways… and it looks like crap. The board has pegs for Prime’s gorilla feet, but he just looks awkward trying to ride it. There’s also a CyberKey gimmick that deploys the side of the board, kind of like an outrigger and reveals the trigger for the hidden missile launcher in the nose.


Obviously I’m mixed on this pair. My love for Megatron needs no qualifications. He’s great in both modes and lots of fun to play with. Hasbro did a splendid job on him. Optimus, on the other hand, has a pretty piss poor beast mode and a needlessly complex transformation, but he has a robot mode that carries the day. It was a neat little experiment to work Beast Wars homages into the Cybertron line for the 10th Anniversary and thanks to the Jungle Planet in the fiction, this one sort of makes sense in the context of the series. It’s likely when the Unicron Trilogy purges of my collection are complete, these figures may survive it.

Transformers Cybertron: Red Alert and Cannonball by Hasbro

As threatened promised, Transformers Thursdays are going to be all about the Unicron Trilogy this February and today I’m going to stick with the Cybertron line. In fact, like last Thursday, I’m going to revisit the years 2005 and 2006 with an original mold and the subsequent repaint. Let’s check out Red Alert and Cannonball.


Red Alert was introduced into the Unicron Trilogy as a Super-Con (think Voyager sized toy with electronics) Emergency Rescue Vehicle in the Armada line. In Cybertron, he’s been reduced to a smaller, Deluxe Class version of his Armada alt mode. Was that before or after he became a huge missile carrier? I honestly can’t remember. For now, he’s basically a white SUV with blue striping, tinted red windows, and some lights on the roof. It’s a nice looking auto mode, but I always found it odd that he didn’t have any markings to denote him as a Rescue Vehicle.


He also has the unfortunate characteristic of having the top of his head exposed in vehicle mode. We’re not talking Energon level of bad here. I’m looking at you Energon Irohinde and Inferno! No, it could pass as part of the light bar if you don’t look too closely, but it’s still a noticeable piece of lazy design.


As a Cybertron figure, Red Alert features a CyberKey gimmick and this one is pretty cool. Insert the CyberKey into the back and the side panels pop open and a pair of guns flip out. When these gimmicks were good, they were really good. But what about the robot mode?



OK, so Red Alert’s transformation features some really interesting and original engineering. The front and back of the vehicle actually connect together to form the front and back halves of his legs. It’s inspired and unexpected. Unfortunately it results in a robot mode with some majorly overdeveloped lower legs. Indeed, Red Alert is just an overall stocky guy, so much so that it works against a lot of his articulation. Particularly with those big knee shields and shoulder armor plates, it’s just hard for this guy to function in regular poses. Otherwise, he actually retains some design elements from his larger Armada robot mode, which is kind of a neat throwback, right down to the gun in place of his left hand. I also like the slot in his chest. Yeah, it’s to tab something in during transformation, but it’s also evocative of the disc shooter that Armada Red Alert had in his chest.


The CyberKey gimmick is still available in the robot mode. You stick the key into his backpack and the guns deploy right above his shoulders. It’s neat, but the guns ride so low on his shoulders, they’re not very noticeable. It also pushes out the sides of the backpack, which gives the shoulder armor even less room to maneuver.




The head sculpt is pretty reminiscent of the Armada toy too. I always thought this guy looked a bit like Robocop… with light up ears. So, yeah Red Alert is kind of goofy, mostly due to his proportions, but I can’t help but have a soft spot for him. He looks like something that might have been released in the waning days of G1. Or to be more specific, I can practically see what the G1 package art of this robot mode would have looked like it and would have fit perfectly. Was he good enough to warrant buying a repaint? Nope. Did I do it anyway? You betcha. Let’s look at Cannonball…



Released the following year, Cannonball is a Decepticon pirate that transforms into a black SUV. Yes, I will allow that to sink in for a moment. Ready? OK, because according to his bio, he leads a crew of pirates who pray on starships and return to Cybertron to spend their loot on “Black Market Energon Stars and Pleasure Programs.” That’s the kid-friendly way of saying hookers and blow. I’m starting to remember why I bought him.



The vehicle mode here is a straight repaint, but oh what an interesting repaint it is. He’s black with silver trim. Oh, and he also has neon green skulls and skeletons painted on his roof and doors WHICH IS TOTALLY METAL! It looks like he once visited the Day of the Dead festival and really liked it so he got all tatted up. The lights and windshields are tinted purple and the top of his head is now as obvious as ever because it’s gold. And of course, the CyberKey gimmick is the same on this figure’s vehicle mode only Cannonball’s guns are gold… because pirates love their bling!





Likewise, the robot mode is a straight repaint. The silver paint picks out the detail a little nicer than Red Alert, although I’m not a fan of this gold plastic. I do, however, enjoy the fact that those bitchin’ skeletons now reside prominently on his shoulder armor. And, nope, you don’t even get a new head. Although I will say the new deco really makes it stand out from Red Alert’s noggin.



I kind of like this pair and I’m not sure exactly why. Sure, it’s partly the clever engineering in the legs, but in the end I think it just comes down to personality. These robots have it in spades. They’re chunky nature makes them not all that fun to play with, but they display nice. When I begin the final culling of the Cybertron tote, it’s possible these guys might survive the purge.

Transformers Cybertron: Crosswise and Smokescreen by Hasbro

I am officially declaring February “Unicron Trilogy Month” because I don’t forsee myself picking up any new Transformers for a little while and I really need to start clearing out some of these totes of change-o-bots that I’m not keen on keeping anymore. I decided I might as well feature these figures on Transformers Thursdays before I banish them to Ebay or just dump them wherever. Those of you who have been hanging around FFZ’s Transformers Thursdays for a while have been through this phase before. So grab a couple of shots of Energon or whatever helps you cope. Today we’re winding our chronometers back about ten years to 2005 and 2006 to check out Cybertron Crosswise and Smokescreen. I’ve got no packaged shots to show you, so let’s just jump right in with Crosswise’s auto mode.


I’ve gone on record saying how much I liked Cybertron for it’s alt modes. What little I’ve seen of the show suggested that it wasn’t rooted entirely on Earth so we got a lot of cool futuristic cars and Hasbro didn’t have to worry about paying license fees to real car companies. Win-Win! Crosswise is a pretty bitchin’ black sportscar with a rounded snub-nosed front, a cool looking front intake and a spoiler that looks conspicuously like it could double as a gun. There’s even a flame-shamed missile that will plug into it. My only other observation here is that I think he would have worked better as a Decepticon. He just looks evil.


Because evil is the new black. Or something like that. The nearly all black deco here is as simple as it gets, with a little gray and gold, a little red and white, and some translucent green windows. To me, this is an example of fewer paint apps as a style choice and not because Hasbro’s being cheap. There’s also a sharp Autobot emblem tampo’d on the hood. Nope, not bad at all!



As a Cybertron figure, Crosswise features a CyberKey activated gimmick. Plug the key into his rear bumper and it deploys two hidden rocket packs. As far as CyberKey gimmicks go, this is about as good as it gets. Now that I’ve gushed a lot, let’s take a look at the robot mode…


Oh, boy. Unfortunately, Crosswise’s robot mode looks really half baked. On the one hand, he features that familiar old Autobot configuration that uses the front of the car as the upper chest. It’s the purest and most noble of all Autobot designs, dating all the way back to the Datsuns of 1984. It’s also this figure’s best attribute. Once you look past that, you’ve got to deal with a couple of sticks protruding awkwardly up from behind his shoulders, big door kibble jutting awkwardly off his shoulders, and the end all and be all of my Transformers pet-peeves… the dreaded permanent roof shield. Yikes! Roof sheilds were one of the worst things from Robots in Disguise back in 2000 and it’s here to haunt me again.


I do dig the headsculpt here quite a bit. The extra gold paint on the “helmet” looks great and the translucent green visor over the eyes is nice too. The Cybertron line certainly knew how to produce some lovely robo-noggins.



For armaments, Crosswise can wield his spoiler as a handgun and his CyberKey gimmick still works in his robot mode, only now you are literally sticking the Key right up his butt. This deploys the rocket packs from his shoulders, which is easily my favorite thing about this figure. That having been said, I was never all that fond of this mold back in the day, so naturally when Hasbro repainted it a year later, I bought it again. Wait, what? WHY DID I DO THAT? Oh yeah, because I was a completest idiot. Seriously. I can remember finding this figure on the pegs. Did I think, “Hey, there’s a repaint of that figure I didn’t like all that much from last year?” No, I screamed, “SWEET! I found a new Transformer!” And I bought him.




Smokescreen is a straight repaint of Crosswise, with no tweaks to the mold at all. The auto mode looks pretty cool with the traditional Smokescreen deco right down to the 38’s on the doors. You still get the spoiler-gun and the CyberKey gimmick is still available.




When I said no tweaks to the mold, I really meant it. Hasbro didn’t even give this guy a new head. The more dynamic color scheme makes for a nice change, but even the best of new paint jobs inspired by GeeWun fan-wankery isn’t enough to save this mold.



Crosswise and Smokescreen were pretty iffy to me back in 2005-2006 and the ten years that follows has not been any kinder to them. Yeah, there are certainly worse Transformers out there, probably several from these years too, but these guys really feel like they could have been saved by a few minor tweaks. Yes, you can mis-transform those sticks so they point down instead of up, but they’re still terrible kibble. A little more thought from the design team and I could have met these guys halfway. As they are, though, I’m not going to be sad to see them go.

Transformers Cybertron: Hot Shot and Excellion by Hasbro

It’s likely that next week I’ll have a new figure to look at for Transformers Thursday, but in the meantime, I’m rolling up my sleeve and digging into one of the Unicron Trilogy totes for this week’s feature. I came out with Cybertron Hot Shot and I dove back in to find his repaint Excellion. I’ve got no packaged shots to show you, so let’s just get started with Hot Shot and his alt mode.




Cybertron had some totally bitchin’ alt modes and this is definitely one of them. Keep in mind, this is his sports car mode, before he went all “Defense Force” on us and turned into an armored personnel carrier, but that’s a Feature for another day. Here his car mode is sleek and futuristic and sports a rather large yellow tinted canopy. There isn’t a whole lot of sculpted detail on this car, but you do get some intake vents and a tiny Autobot emblem on the front of the hood. The deco is blue with some yellow on the back and a few red accents. The wheels are painted silver and you get some additional yellow tinted plastic on the headlamps. The choice of colors here doesn’t do a whole lot for me, but it’s not bad. There’s also a top mounted engine on the back, which has a port on it so you can peg in his gun. It also houses his CyberKey gimmick. Plug in the key…



…And it just pops out a pair of rather anemic looking wings. On the one hand, it gives the toy some more of that glorious clear yellow plastic. On the other hand, I’m not sure the purpose here. Are those supposed to get the car off the ground? Eh, why not. If it worked for Tracks, I’ll buy it. It’s worth noting that the springs on my toy are showing their age and it is an absolute bitch to get the wings to lock back into place.



Transforming Hot Shot results in a robot mode that both impresses and disappoints. Overall he has a decent profile and he’d have good proportions too if it weren’t for the derpy little forearms. His car door kibble also extends way beyond his hands making them seem beyond intrusive. If you look closely, Hasbro tried to rationalize it buy sculpting some guns in there, but they’re really hard to see. The back of the bot features the canopy hanging off as a sort of tail and the spoiler serves as heel spurs.


But damn, look at that face! One thing the Cybertron series knew how to do was sculpt some handsome robot faces. He’s so damn regal looking, even with those ugly exposed screws on the fronts of his shoulders. The deco in robot mode adds a lot of darker blue and some more red. I dig how his chest looks almost like it’s the hood of a car, albeit a different car. Not sure if that was by design, but it sort of drives home his Autobot heritage. That was a robo-pun. And, oh yeah… that’s a sculpted Autobot emblem on his shoulder. Always a plus in my book!



In robot mode, Hot Shot’s CyberKey gimmick doesn’t really do much except he does look better with the wings extended. Naturally, he can wield his gun, which fires a missile and is crafted in more of that delicious clear yellow plastic. I’m really not a clear plastic nut when it comes to my toys, but the Cybertron figures sure knew how to use it to enhance the look of these toys. Moving on to his buddy, Excellion…



Thankfully, Hot Shot was repainted into a new character and not just a powered up version of himself. I know, I can call these figures whatever I want, but releasing a repaint under the same character name just cheeses me off. In auto mode, Excellion is mostly red and orange with a gold flame motif on his hood. It also replaces all the yellow clear plastic with blue clear plastic. I can’t help but presume that Hasbro was going for a Hot Rod/Rodimus homage here, although going with the gold and blue instead of yellow does kind of make it more unique than your average copy-cat paint job. Strictly as a matter of personal taste, I do like this deco better than Hot Shot’s, at least in auto mode.



In robot mode, it’s a bit of a toss up. I think I like both paint schemes fairly equally. They’re definitely distinctive from another and in this case without the bright yellow calling attention to the door kibble, it seems a little less obtrusive on Excellion. The silver panels on his shoulders are also rather striking!



Back in the day, in this case around 2005/2006, I remember being blown away by these figures. Nowadays, I can still see what I loved in them. The robot mode designs look great and the coloring on both figures is quite nice. On the other hand, they haven’t aged all that well as toys. The articulation is clunky by today’s standards and the arms could have used some re-work. Still, stand these guys on the shelf and they still look magnificent and rather robust for Deluxe Class figures. In my quest to weed out some of my many Change-o-bots, these guys are getting a pass and going back into the bin for keepsies!

Transformers Cybertron: Brakedown and Brakedown GTS by Hasbro

It’s time again where I’m between new releases and therefore must dip into the Bottomless Totes of Convertobots to come up with something to talk about on Transformers Thursdays. This serves a double purpose as I’m really looking to downsize my TF collection, so looking at some of these figures again helps me to decide whether to keep them, ship them off to my nephew, or try to get a couple bucks for them on Ebay. Today I dropped my hand into that copious pit of plastic and pulled out a baggie containing these two little Scout Class figures from the 2005 Cybertron series. Let’s start with Brakedown, and then check out his repainted form as Brakedown GTS!



Brakedown’s alt mode is a bitchin’ Cybertronian racer and it beautifully reflects some of the wonderful and imaginative alt modes that came out of a line where the designers weren’t constrained to just Earth vehicles. This thing is absolutely packed with detail and the brown and gold deco mixed with the translucent yellow pieces looks so good, it’s kind of a shame they went with just a light gray plastic for the rest of the trim. The big translucent yellow wheels gives me a warm and fuzzy Tron vibe too, which is always a good thing. What’s also cool about this car is the fact that when I first got it, I had no idea how it was going to transform, something that was not too common for the smaller Scout Class toys.



Of course, part of the mystery of Brakedown’s transformation comes from the removal of a size-able piece to form his gun. Some may cry foul at parts-forming, but the idea of taking out what could be the car’s engine to form a gun makes for a nice Targetmaster/Powermaster mash up to me.



Brakedown’s robot mode is all in all quite good with just a few blemishes to get in the way of greatness. I’m not a fan of the way the car’s front frame extends up over his back and he’s got tiny little forearms. Neither of these are dealbreakers for me, but that backpack does make him a bit back heavy and the ankle hinges on my figure have become a bit loose with age and those two things do not make for a happy combination. The head sculpt on this guy is pretty cool. I like the design of his “helmet” and those eyes feature some truly great light piping.




The gun can be held in either hand and it can be activated with the use of a CyberKey, which just flips out the bayonet. Not one of the more spectacular or dynamic CyberKey conversions, but neat nonetheless.




The repaint, Brakedown GTS, uses the same gray plastic parts, but updates the brown and gold to an aqua blue with red and yellow accents. Also, the yellow translucent plastic is replaced with regular black. In robot mode, you also get some sharp gold paint apps on the legs and arms and the “helmet” is painted silver. On the downside there’s no light piping in the eyes, just some tiny red painted peepers. The ankles on my GTS version are even looser than on the regular release, making this one a real challenge to stand up without his gun in hand to counterbalance his weight.



It’s hard to believe these figures are ten years old already. Where has the time gone? Looking back, I’ve found Cybertron to be a rather hit and miss line with me, but this pair definitely falls into the hit column. I love their alt modes and while the robots could have used a few simple tweaks, I still dig them a lot. My only other gripe here would have been to change them up as different characters, as I’m not a fan of having a repaint of the same character. Indeed, if I had my choice, I would have made regular Brakedown a Decepticon and kept the GTS version as an Autobot.

Transformers Cybertron: Quickmix with Stripmine by Hasbro

I woke up today, pondered some content for Transformers Thursday, and it just felt like a cement mixer kind of a day. I’m sure you know what I mean. That doesn’t leave me too many options… Mixmaster would be too easy and my G1 Targetmaster Quickmix is long gone, probably still at the bottom of a backyard sandbox in Northern New Jersey. Thankfully there is the more recent version of Quickmix to choose from. He was a Voyager Class released in the Cybertron line and he comes with a little Minicon called Stripmine. Let’s mix it up!



Like his G1 namesake, Quickmix is an Autobot, but that’s where the similarities dry up. Hasbro wasn’t going for a direct homage on this guy so the color scheme isn’t the red and white-grey that one might expect. Instead we get a lot of bright orange, which I will concede is often times the color of construction vehicles. Actually, now that I think of it, they’re usually yellow. Maybe Hasbro was going for an homage to that elusive set of orange G2 Constructicons. Or maybe Quickmix is just orange because he’s orange and I should shut the hell up about it.



Quickmix’s vehicle mode is a little rough around the edges. You can see a lot of hinges and gears and other transforming robot tomfoolery. But construction vehicles aren’t supposed to be pretty, so what’s here largely works for me. A good part of the back of the truck is made up of one of Quickmix’s arms and I have to say it’s pretty cool the way it’s all contorted like that to form the feeding chute for the mixing materials. On the downside, the arm doesn’t lock down very well so it’s not uncommon for the back of the mixer chute to unfold into a mess. There is undoubtedly a lot of detail to this vehicle’s sculpt and I really dig the jagged detailing on the mixing drum itself. The truck rolls along on six wheels and has a bizarre prow jutting out of the front. I have no idea what that’s supposed to be for, but then I know precious little about cement mixers.



While Cybertron figures were all about Cyberkeys, for some reason Quickmix came paired with a Minicon named Stripmine. You’ll hear no complaints from me because I love Minicons and Stripmine is definitely one of the better ones. His alt mode is a blue and yellow laser cannon that rolls on tank treads. Based on his name, I’m going to assume he’s a mining laser. He’s a very simple little guy, but he transforms into a clean robot mode that uses his laser cannon as an arm. Quickmix has Minicon ports on the top of his driving cabin and another on his rear bumper so Stripmine can attach to him and power him up. Yes, he still has a Cyberkey gimmick, but it’s only designed for use when he’s in robot mode, so let’s get him transformed.



One of the things that always cheeses me off is when Transformers have some huge part of their vehicular anatomy hanging off one of their arms. This is very often the case with crane trucks, but it should only take one look at Quickmix’s robot mode to see where I’m going with this. His right arm consists of his mixing drum, which is probably very useful for hitting other robots, but not so much so when you need to pick something up. He also has some pretty bulky truck kibble for knees. In the plus column, Quickmix features one good arm with a pair of guns on it, that look pretty cool. I do like the way he wears his wheels on his back, and you certainly can’t deny that this mold is absolutely packed with sculpted detail. Oh yeah, Quickmix has a pair of Minicon ports for nipples. Nipples are of course useless on a robot and to keep that line of thought going, these nipples are pretty useless as Minicon ports as well.


I’m not sure what’s up with Quickmix’s head, but it really strikes me as some kind of misguided Blaster homage. He’s got the same silver band running over his head that looks a bit like a flipped up visor on a helmet. He’s also got a microphone and earpiece, which granted wasn’t part of Blaster’s head sculpt, but Blaster was a communications officer, so you can see where I’m going with that. On the other hand, I can’t think of any good reason why Hasbro would make a cement truck an homage to Blaster, so I’m probably reading way too much into this.




In the Cybertron fiction that I know very little about, Quickmix was a native of the Giant Planet and hung out with Metroplex. As a result, he shares the same kind of growing gimmick as Plexy did. The only difference here is that Metroplex’s growing gimmick was pretty cool and Quickmix’s is garbage. You just pull down on his legs or push down his shoulders and it grows him all of about an eighth of an inch. If it wasn’t pointed out as a growing gimmick in the instructions I would have just assumed it was part of the transformation. It also doesn’t lock into place, which makes it all the more annoying.




I couldn’t find Quickmix’s Cyberkey anywhere, but that doesn’t matter because his gimmick is easily accessed without it. You just pull apart his mixing drum to reveal a missile launcher. It looks like a pretty powerful weapon, but I’m not sure I would want to go through life with a giant albatross for a right arm only so that I could launch a missile every now and then. For a construction vehicle, Quickmix seems just as dedicated to wrecking shit as he is to helping to build. There’s also a Minicon port on his left arm to give him some extra firepower. I dig that a lot as it’s a nice nod back to the original G1 Targetmaster toy.


In case you haven’t guessed, Quickmix does not impress me. I don’t hate him, but when you consider how many Transformers are vying for what little display space I have; poor Quickmix is never likely to earn himself much shelf time. The vehicle mode isn’t bad at all, but I tend to display my TF’s in robot mode and that’s where Quickmix falls short. His bot mode is just lousy with lazy design and poorly conceived gimmicks. I can certainly appreciate all the effort that went into his detailed sculpt, but in the end it feels wasted on what is a rather forgettable Transformer figure. Yes, Quickmix is bound for the storage tote. Hopefully in a few years when I discover him again he may have a little nostalgia working in his favor.

Transformers Cybertron: Ransack and Crumplezone by Hasbro

It’s Transformers Thursday, folks, and today you get two for the price of one! I’m in the process of paring down some of my Transformers collection. I can’t bear to part with many figures, even many of the ones that don’t excite me anymore, so some of these guys are going to be sealed into totes and put away into storage, possibly not to be seen again for quite a while. I decided that I might as well at least feature some of them here before I send them off to storage oblivion, so today we’re going to look at a pair of Decepticons from the Speed Planet… Ransack and Crumplezone. This is a pair that I have very mixed feelings about.


Since I didn’t watch much of the Cybertron cartoon I don’t know a lot about this pair, other than they liked to hang out together and that’s why I’m looking at both of them today. I’ve always pictured them as a kind of Lenny and George double-act, which may be far from the truth, but the idea still makes me chuckle. Or that could be the three Jamesons I’ve had tonight. Let’s start out with Ransack who was a Basic or Scout or whatever the hell they used to call the smaller size assortment back then.



Ransack’s alt mode is a red futuristic motorcycle. Transformer motorcycles are pretty interesting to me because they require extra clever engineering to make them work and they almost always fail to look decent in robot mode. To date I still think the best motorcycle transformer of all time wasn’t a Transformer at all, it was the Go-Bot Renegade Leader Cy-Kill, but I digress. [Note to self: Pick up a Cy-Kill figure someday. He was really cool!] Ransack’s bike mode has just the right amount of Tron Lightcycle vibe to make me appreciate what Hasbro was going for here. This super-sonic crotch-rocket looks sleek and speedy and the mix of opaque red and translucent red plastic, along with the silver and gold paint does make for a striking deco. The wheels are chunky enough so that Ransack can stand upright without toppling over. That’s more than I can say about his robot mode, but I’ll get to that in a minute.


As with most Cybertron figures, Ransack comes with a Cyberkey that unlocks his gimmick. In this case if you plug it into the back just above the seat a pair of what I presume is either a set of guns or thrusters deploy out the back. Ransack is a Decepticon, so I prefer to believe they’re guns for shooting at anyone following him. But even my great imagination can’t save this gimmick from being pretty boring. Oh well, he is just a little guy so maybe I’m expecting too much.


Unfortunately, Ransack only goes downhill from there. When I first got this figure way back when, it literally broke right out of the package. One of his heel spurs snapped off. It’s a piece that doesn’t affect the alt mode at all, but the lack of it makes it impossible for him to stand in his robot mode. As a result, I have to keep the two halves of his rear wheels folded down to stabilize him when they are supposed to be tucked alongside his legs. It’s not a total loss… I like to think of them as hover turbines.


I know I should cut this guy some slack because he’s a pretty small figure and he’s a motorcycle, which isn’t a particularly easy mode to work with. On the other hand, a good piece of his motorcycle bulk detaches to become his gun so as clever as a few things about his transformation are, some of it still feels like a cheat. And it’s not like the end result is all that great to look at. A lot of Cybertron figures featured some really cool engineering, and given that context Ransack’s robot mode just feels primitive. Of course, the Cybertron line gave birth to another motorcycle Transformer that makes Ransack here look like a Masterpiece figure, but I’ll get to Lugnutz another day. For now, let’s just move on to Crumplezone.




Now, this is a bitchin alt mode! While I could never get behind Cybertron’s whole idea of differently themed planets, I have no problem taking many of the Speed Planet figures and considering them to be native Cybertonian forms. Crumplezone fits that idea perfectly. He’s a big, mean looking three-wheeler with a jet-style cockpit and two huge engines hanging off his ass. This guy would look great tearing down the streets of Iacon City and blasting away at Autobot fools. The detailing on this vehicle is really nice, and if you aren’t a fan of the two-tone green deco, which admittedly doesn’t feel very Decepticon, you could always go for the Dark Crumplezone repaint, which I believe also featured some remolded parts and extra weapons too.


Crumplezone’s Cyberkey gimmick unleashes his two massive spring-loaded engines and flips them forward to mount on each side of his cockpit and serve as missile launchers. It also deploys his spoilers like wings. I was also surprised to find that the accompanying electronics on mine still worked and the toy unleashes a bitchin symphony of synthesized mayhem when his weapons are deployed. I think this is the first Cybertron figure I’ve played with in ages that still has working batteries in it! Either way, with weapons deployed, Crumplezone is one bad ass looking vehicle.


Crumplezone’s transformation isn’t terribly complex for his size and in robot mode he feels more like a jet Transformer what with his cockpit landing right on his chest. With his giant upper body and diminished legs, he has the same wonky but loveable proportions that would be later adopted by Bulkhead in both Transformers Animated and Transformers Prime. Yes, despite him being a Decepticon, I get a very strong Bulkhead vibe off this guy mixed with just a jot of Beast Machines Tankor. The only thing about this robot design that I don’t like is the fact that his wings just flop around on his forearms.


“But Crumplezone has no weapons,” you say? Fortunately, his Cyberkey gimmick works in robot mode too and you can deploy his missile launchers onto his shoulders, accompanied by the same glorious fanfare of electronic sounds. This configuration reminds me of the Armada Seekers with their shoulder cannon deployed.


And that wraps up today’s Transformers Thursday. Honestly, I could take or leave Ransack even if mine wasn’t broken, but I’ve always considered Crumplezone to be a solid figure and I think he still holds up pretty well. Unfortunately, he takes up a lot of room and he doesn’t really fit with any of the other Transformers that I’m going to be putting out on display right now and so he’s going to get put away with his buddy Ransack. But the nice thing about putting toys into storage is you get to rediscover them again someday.

Transformers Cybertron: Override by Hasbro

For the past month I have been eschewing the usual randomness of Transformers Thursday by following some convenient segues. It’s taken me through a trio of nautical based Decepticons and now I’m following up last week’s Femme Bot Decepticon with her Autobot counterpart, Override. Besides being another female Transformer, Override is a lot like Thunderblast in that I really dig her alt mode, but her robot mode leaves a lot to be desired. Let’s take a look…



I followed very little of the Unicron Trilogy official fiction, but as I understand it Override hails from the Speed Planet. It’s certainly appropriate since her alt mode is a very sexy looking futuristic car. While this auto mode has a few blemishes, most notably the obvious top half of the robot head peeking out of the top, I just can’t help but love the slick design. The rounded and angled front fenders are beautifully done and the fins coming off the back look pretty cool too. I also dig the translucent wheels, which hammer home the idea that this is a crazy futuristic alien car. The deco here is also pretty tight. The red and white look great together and the silver and black compliment the color pallet nicely. I probably could have done without the orange, but there’s not a lot of it and it blends fairly well with the red.




Naturally, as a Cybertron figure Override comes with her own CyberKey and accompanying gimmick. In this case you plug the key into her backside and it unlocks a pair of spring-loaded guns that position themselves on either side of her cockpit. It’s kind of a subtle gimmick, and I usually leave the guns deployed, but I’m also a sucker for cars with spring-loaded guns, so this gimmick gets a big thumbs up.



Ugh! Override uses also uses a spring-loaded gimmick as part of her transformation. It’s an odd thing to see because I don’t recall a whole lot of Cybertron figures doing this. It’s also generally a bad idea, because while it may be cool to see your figure spring part of the way into the robot mode, springs fail over time and even though mine still seems rather strong, it will pop when handling the toy in car mode from time to time. Plus, when you look at Override’s robot mode, it’s hard not to think that the spring gimmick engineering is responsible for what is not a great looking figure.


The issue here is all in the proportions. You get an unusually wide and blocky torso, and rather small arms and legs. The legs feel like they should pull out to extend farther, but they don’t and her arms just look like tiny T-Rex arms compared to that huge slab of a chest. While on the subject of the legs, this is a figure that doesn’t always like to stand. She’s definitely back heavy, but the high-heel spurs help to counter that. No, the problem is that the ball joints in the hips don’t always want to support her rather large upper body and so she does the splits and collapses. Override’s backpack can be removed to form a double barreled gun. It does help lighten up her back, but I don’t like the weapon at all. It looks so unwieldy and difficult to use.


Before wrapping up, I should also mention that no part of this figure works for me as a female. In fact, I didn’t even know she was a she until I got around to reading her Tech Spech long after I bought the figure. If anything, Override’s broad upper body reminds me of some of the later 80’s G1 Transformers, like Punch. The head sculpt is certainly interesting and has a strong Gundam vibe to the headgear, but the face itself is rather androgynous and I have a weird aversion to orange-faced Transformers. I know it’s strange, but I’m currently undergoing therapy to remedy that and we seem to be making progress.


Yeah, so that’s Override. As a rule, I’m usually a big fan of the Cybertron toys, but Override doesn’t do it for me. I seem to recall being a little easier on her back in the day, so it may just be the decade of better engineering in Transformers that has soured me on this figure. Either way, she certainly does have a very cool Auto mode, one that is very reminiscent of Blurr to me. Apparently I’m not alone because a little checking has turned up some generally impressive customs that show she does indeed make for a great Blurr homage, particularly in her alt mode.