Transformers Energon: Skyblast by Hasbro

Just a heads up, this will probably be the last Transformers Thursday before I turn TFT over to look at figures from the dreaded Bayformer Trilogy! My plan is to keep that going until Age of Extinction releases in June. Whether I can keep that going remains to be seen, but truth be told I have a lot of those figures that have escaped the FFZ spotlight and for good or for ill, they must be shown! Anywho, today’s feature is a genuine random grab from my Energon tote and I came out with… Skyblast! Very cool! Skyblast was one of the first Energon figures revealed by Hasbro before the line launched and for me it was love at first sight. I couldn’t wait to find him on the pegs and the midnight runs to Walmart were a common activity for me back then. I was also really intrigued over finding out about these new Omnicons. Turns out that they were a new type of Transformer allied with the Autobots with the skill to work with raw Energon. Let’s see what this little guy is all about…

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When I think back to how excited I was to get this guy, it says a lot about how far Transformers have come since. I’m not knocking him, I still dig him a lot, but nowadays he’s probably not all that much to get excited about. I think a lot of the appeal comes from the fact that he’s obviously an homage to our old friend G1 Jetfire. He’s an adorable little Autobot jet with a just a slight Macross vibe to him. The red and white plastic features some gold and blue paint apps thrown in. And then thee’s the Autobot emblems sculpted right into the wings. I love that!

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Skyblast also comes with a bunch of translucent red “energon” parts that can be attached to the jet mode to beef him up. Two of the pieces snap onto the wing tips and the other two pieces connect together into a ridiculously long chin cannon. I’ve never been a big fan of using these parts on the alt mode, but that’s ok because they come in handy later.

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Skyblast has a very simple yet clever transformation and the resulting robot mode carries the Jetfire homage over mostly in the Sunbow-style headsculpt. He’s got a pretty clean robot mode that I really enjoy, although there are just a couple of issues. The wings coming off the arms would have worked better if they folded down. I also prefer to flip them and unfortunately the Autobot emblems on the reverse side aren’t painted. Boo! The nose cone can be fold down a bit behind the head, but if you do that you can’t turn the head. Personally, I prefer losing neck articulation and having the nosecone not stick up so far.

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As for those energon parts, you’ve got a couple of options here. First, you can make a nice rifle for Skyblast, which I think works much better than the chin cannon on the alt mode. Granted, the limited articulation here makes it tough to have him wield it convincingly, but I still dig it.

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The other weapon combines all the parts into a bitchin’ energon spear. Again, there’s not a lot of cool poses this little guy can do with it, but he looks damn cool just standing there holding it.

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I’m almost envious of the past me that was able to get so excited about such a simple little eight dollar Transformer. Of course it helps that at the time I was only back into collecting these things for a couple of years and Armada really got me hot and bothered and ready for more. Fast forward to today when I’m dropping hundreds of dollars on Masterpiece and third-party figures. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure if I showed my TFC Not-Aerialbots to that past me he would toss Skyblast into the garbage and start saving money, but then I would have missed out on some genuinely cool figures. Skyblast still holds a lot of appeal for me. As a kid, he’s exactly the kind of toy that I would have shoved in my pocket before going anywhere so that me and my tiny little almost-Jetfire could have adventures together.

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Transformers Cybertron: Thunderblast by Hasbro

Transformers Thursday is once again upon us and as promised last week I’m going to keep this crazy nautical-themed Decepticon thang going on for one more entry with Thunderblast. This time we have a double rarity because not only are we checking out another seafaring Transformer, but it just happens to be one of those female types. What-What??? Let’s start with her alt mode.

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What we have here is a sleek and sexy speed boat that happens to be armed to the teeth. It’s also one of my all-time favorite Deluxe alt modes from the Unicron Trilogy days. Besides just being so unusual, it’s also wonderfully detailed right down to the little seats in the open cockpit and the translucent orange windshield. There’s a tiny deck gun on the bow that swivels and two outriggers with detachable torpedoes. Dominating the entire payload is the huge 4-pack missile launcher on the back that can swivel 360-degrees as well as raise and lower. If you think it’s a bit much you can also take it off to give Thunderblast a sleeker look. This would be an incredibly fun little toy even if it didn’t transform.

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The deco here is Decepticon perfection. You get a lot of blue with a beautiful coat of metallic silver paint and some purple accents. And since Thunderblast comes from the days when Hasbro could throw paint apps at a figure on a whim, you get a little gold on the very front of the ship and a couple of red accents to round out a great look. The Decepticon insignia on the bow is a thing of beauty.

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As a Cybertron figure, Thunderblast comes with a Cyberkey that unlocks a gimmick in the 4-pack missile launcher. Put the key in the back and it opens up the faux launcher to reveal a real one. You can load the torpedoes into it and fire away. As far as Cyberkey gimmicks go, this one isn’t one of my favorites. I don’t like the fact that you have to load the launcher after the reveal. Plus, those missiles look great as torpedoes, what’s the point of taking them off and shooting them through the launcher. The Cyberkey stuff has always been hit or miss for me and this one is largely a miss.

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As great as Thunderblast’s alt mode is, transforming her is pretty laughable. You just open up the bottom of the boat in two halves and there she is. Unfold her arms and legs, and hinge the boat backpack down to help her stand and you’ve got your robot mode. The robot itself looks really good, but that doesn’t impress me when she’s wearing a giant splayed out boat on her back. I suppose you could argue that it looks like wings and an analogy to G1 Scourge could be made, but the boat kibble is just too unwieldy to make this figure work for me. It’s a shame too because she has amazingly good articulation. There are ball joints in her shoulders and hips, double-hinges in her elbows, hinges in her knees and ankles, plus swivel cuts in her biceps and thighs. Her head is ball jointed and she even has a swivel in her waist. That’s a lot of great articulation that you can’t do a whole hell of a lot with because of that backpack.

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Still, as far as female Transformers go the sculpt here certainly works. Thunderblast looks a lot more feminine than the other female Cybertron figure, Override. She’s got some beefy child-bearing hips, high-heeled boots, and she’s definitely packing a chest. Oddly enough, the chest looks suspiciously like the Autobot Matrix of Leadership to me. Weird! The face is very reminiscent of the CG model of Beast Wars Blackarachnia and there is some spectacular light piping in the eyes. Also, I really love the silver paint they used here.

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In robot mode, Thunderblast can make use of her huge missile launcher as a giant gun. It pegs into either of her forearms, but it’s designed to look like she’s holding it by the handle, which is pretty cool. You can get some decent looking poses with her wielding it, but between the giant gun and the huge backpack it looks like this poor girl is going to crumble from the weight of poor design.

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In the end, Thunderblast is definitely a worthwhile figure to own just because of how unusual she is. A female Decepticon boat? You just don’t see that very often. Her alt mode is fantastic, but she’s ultimately a super simplified shell-former with engineering that just doesn’t impress. Sure, I’ve seen plenty of worse Transformers, which is why I’m still happy to have her on my shelf, but I can’t help but think that if she was a Voyager Class maybe Hasbro could have worked a few more hinges into her and got that huge backpack of hers under control.

And since I mentioned Override and there aren’t a lot of female Transformers out there, next Thursday we’ll go ahead and check her out.

Transformers Energon: Mirage by Hasbro

It’s Transformers Thursday again and as promised last week I’m back with a look at the Commander of my Sharkticons, Mirage. If you missed last week’s TFT, I gassed on about how I army built Energon Sharkticon and gave them to this guy as his own private armada. Basically, the Energon Sharkticons are the Sweeps to Mirage’s Scourge! But wait… Mirage? Mirage??? I’m usually fine with Hasbro recycling names of Transformers for the various series, but this instance just bugs me. To me, Mirage will forever be an Autobot Formula-1 racecar and taking that name for a Decepticon attack ship is something that I just can’t wrap my G1 head around. It’s too much of a leap. He was repainted later on as Dreadwing and that’s the name I tend to use for him. Anyway, let’s jump right in and check out his alt mode.

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Mirage is a vicious looking warship. I don’t know what you’d classify him as, but he strikes me as a swift moving hit-and-run attack craft. Amidst the countless numbers of cars and jets, there aren’t a hell of a lot of seafaring Transformers so I’m always nice to get a new one. Mirage features an enclosed cockpit area and blade-like fins coming off the front and back of his hull. The front fins each hold two bombs (or maybe torpedoes?), which can detach. For additional firepower, he has two missile launchers mounted toward the back and two more on the front deck. The back launchers can fold out on wings and the front ones can pop up on a clear spring-loaded framework. I like to think that the folding rear wings make Mirage pretty suitable for use as a space faring ship as well as a sea craft.

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The deco here is all over the place. There’s dark blue, light blue, orange, gold, grey, it’s just a crazy mix of colors that compliments the equally crazy colored Sharkticons fairly well. In terms of overall aesthetics, Dreadwing has a much better and more uniform paint job, but as the commander of my Sharkticon army, Mirage’s deco works just fine.

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Mirage’s transformation can be a bit of a pill. It’s fairly complex and there are a lot of moving plates on ball jointed arms that have to be positioned just right. Things tend to flop around all over the place and if you don’t know what you’re doing it can be a disaster. The two halves of his hull also tend to get in the way and a lot of times I’ll just pop them out of the ball joints and set them aside until I’m done. If I haven’t picked this figure up in a while, it’s not uncommon for me to become frustrated with nothing but a half-transformed mess in my hands. It takes some fiddling, but eventually I get there.

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Mirage’s robot mode is 100% Cybertron-Grade-A bad ass. The cockpit area of the ship forms a broad, boxy chest with a socket for an Energon chip dead center. It contrasts nicely with the sculpted organic contours of his legs. It’s a hybrid style aesthetic that reminds me a lot of the original G1 Transformers movie and I really dig it. The proportions are excellent, so much so that even his sizeable backpack doesn’t feel out of place or weigh him down. The side panels that make up his alt mode’s hull are left on double ball jointed arms so there’s a lot you can do with them to customize their look. I have seen some collectors that like to display him with these panels up, but I prefer to sweep them back like wings. That keeps them fairly out of the way and it also stabilizes him really well when standing.

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Mirage’s head sculpt is mighty distinctive and definitely not very humanoid. I do get a vague nautical vibe off of it and while the helmet is completely different, he still reminds me a bit of Beast Wars Depth Charge. In retrospect, that would have made a better name for him than Mirage. Either way, this guy’s portrait ranks up there as one of my favorite Energon head sculpts. It also features some very effective light piping too!

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The only real issues I have with this guy are the large panels that make up his arm launchers. From certain angles they look just fine, but it’s still hard to ignore the major kibble hanging off his arms. I think what frustrates me the most about these is that they could have probably been fixed with the addition of one extra hinge on each plate. It almost looks like that was the original design plan but it didn’t cost out at the end. Ah well, it’s not a deal breaker for me and I suppose he can use them as shields. The deck launchers that now reside on Mirage’s backpack can still be deployed by the push of a button and they angle straight over his head and shoulders. It’s cool that the design enables them to be used in robot mode, but they don’t rest evenly so they don’t look all that great. The one on his left is rather droopy.

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I think Mirage’s deco improves a lot in his robot mode. The blue and orange parts are mostly confined to his back giving him a more cohesive black, purple and gold motif with the grey bits landing mostly on his limbs. Again, I think it makes for a pretty nice match with the Sharkticons.  Also, that sculpted Decepticon emblem on his chest is pure money. I was going to dig out Dreadwing and take a look at his deco, but sadly I ran out of time, so I’ll have to save him for another Thursday.

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Mirage and Dreadwing represent many of the things that I loved about the Energon line. The mold has an imaginative and unusual alt mode and an absolutely bitchin’ robot mode. Above all, it’s a well-designed toy that only stumbles a bit in the floppy and confusing nature of the transformation along with some shell-former shenanigans. Nonetheless, this is a figure that represents Hasbro designers willing to think outside the box and the result is a truly unique figure that stands out as something very cool and very different. I still hate the name, but he’ll always have a place on my Transformers display shelves.

Next Thursday I’ll keep the nautical Decepticon theme rolling for one more week with a look at Cybertron Thunderblast!

Transformers Energon: Sharkticon by Hasbro

It’s Transformers Thursday and today I’m turning the dial back to 2004 with a look at one of my favorite Deluxe figures from the Energon line. He’s Sharkticon, and while he was a single character on the show, the show’s fiction never meant much to me and I used this guy as an army builder. It seemed logical to me since the Sharkticons were Quintesson foot soldiers in the G1 continuity, but I actually paired these guys up with Energon Mirage to serve as his equivalent of The Sweeps. It may sound convoluted, but as a collector of the Unicron Trilogy toys that didn’t watch the shows, I was always looking to fill in the backstory for the new figures I got. I don’t have a packaged shot of this guy, but he was available in both the regular Energon card as well as the red Powerlinx packaging. Let’s start with his alt mode.

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Sharkticon is a battle ship with some shark influences in his design. While I believe the intent was that he’s an ocean-going craft, I imagined these guys would be just as happy as a space-faring armada. I love so much about this toy’s design it’s hard to know where to begin. I think the elements of traditional battleship design are what appeals to me the most, particularly the rotating gun stations on top. He also has a bridge tower and two rotating gun turrets on the sides. The shark elements aren’t overdone and I think the fins on the back make him more credible to me as an air or space ship. Either way, it’s exactly this kind of wild imagination and creativity that makes me love so much of the Energon line.

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The deco is quite striking. The hull is mostly black with silver paint apps used to accentuate some of the intricate sculpted detail. The purple accents work for me as does the giant Decepticon insignia plastered on the bow of the ship. I freaking love that! On the other hand, I could have probably done without the orange, it’s distinctive, but feels out of place. I also would have left the bridge tower black instead of the odd choice of white. But even a few questionable color choices can’t wreck this toy for me!

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Ah, but just when you thought we’d seen it all and it was time to move on to the robot mode, Sharkticon has two little surprises. You can pull out the side panels on his hull to reveal a pair of hidden missile launchers. Cool!

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The transformation here is nothing too complex and yet fairly clever for a Deluxe. The back of the ship unfolds into his arms, the legs are obviously part of the undercarriage and the bulk of the battleship folds onto his back. Everything locks together wonderfully making him a fun figure to play about with. Sharkticon’s robot mode is pretty slick looking. There’s a nice blend of boxy design with a little bit of curvy organic feel thrown in. It’s the kind of aesthetic that I associate a lot with the G1 movie and I love it. The torso is brimming with sculpted detail and he has an Energon port right in the center of his chest so you can give him an Energon chip. He maintains a lot of his shark motif in robot mode with fins coming of his arms and legs and even the head sculpt is a bit evocative of the underwater predator. Even Sharkticon’s balance is well engineered. He’s wearing half the battleship on his back and yet he’s still easy to stand.

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The deco in this mode shows off less black and more orange and purple, plus there are silver and red accents. For the love of God, just look at how many paint apps are on this guy! And he’s a Deluxe! Nowadays you wouldn’t find this many paint operations on a Voyager. Surprisingly the orange doesn’t bother me as much in robot mode even though there’s more of it. He’s just gorgeous!

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The best compliment I can pay this figure is that I just kept buying him whenever I saw him on the pegs. At one point I had six or seven loose and even a couple carded. But after some trades and sell-offs I’ve paired that down to a simple squad of three now. There aren’t a lot of figures in the Transformers Universe that lend themselves to army building, so this was a case where I just invented my own opportunity. Of course, Energon also gave us the Terrorcons, and I don’t even want to tell you how many of those I have laying around. Next Thursday I’ll be checking out Mirage, the Decepticon who commands these guys in my own crazy homebrew Transformers fiction.

Transformers Energon: Tow-Line by Hasbro

The last bunch of Transformer Thursday features have targeted specific figures that I wanted to look at. Today I’m trying to get back to a little more of the randomness that I originally envisioned for Thursdays. And so, this morning I reached my dirty robot-grabbing mitts into a drawer and pulled out the Deluxe Autobot Tow-Line from the Energon series. As usual, there’s no packaging to talk about, so let’s dig right in to his alt mode.

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Tow-Line is a cool and compact little van. The sculpt is fairly basic, especially compared to some of the Deluxes that came in the subsequent Cyberton line and beyond. He does have ladders sculpted into the sides, weapon ports on the sides and top, and there’s not a whole lot else going on with him. Still, the van mode holds together quite well and rolls along on his wheels rather nicely.The deco is two-tone blue with red and gold striping on the sides and a white front with a nice crisp Autobot emblem stamped above the grill. The windows are translucent red plastic. Paint apps weren’t usually used sparingly back in the Energon days, but Tow-Line looks like he could have used a few more, particularly the back windows and tail lights.

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I seem to recall Tow-Line’s alt mode being referred to as an electronic surveillance van and the red Energon piece that snaps onto his roof would certainly support that. It has two ball jointed pieces, one is a radar dish and the other is a screen. If you see a van that looks like this patrolling your neighborhood, chances are good that Big Brother is listening.

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Transforming Tow-Line is pretty unorthodox and doing so reveals a surprising homage to a certain other pair of Autobot vans from the G1 days. You fold down the sides of the van and remove only the top portion. That’s going to be your robot, whereas the bottom part becomes a weapons platform. It’s a very similar concept to the oddball G1 toys of Ratchet and Ironhide. Unlike G1 Ratchet and Ironhide, however, Tow-Line’s robot mode doesn’t totally suck.

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Nope, he’s actually a pretty clean and well proportioned little bot. Because Tow-Line’s robot mode is comprised of only half his vehicle’s bulk, he turns out to be a bit smaller and simpler than your average Deluxe. In traditional Autobot fashion, the front of the van makes up his chest and I really dig the way his doors fold up to make shoulder armor. I also love this little guy’s head sculpt. It’s pretty grim, but it looks great.

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The surveillance kit from the roof of the van can transform into a pretty impressive looking rifle, which Tow-Line can wield in either hand. I absolutely love this gun. It looks like something out of early Star Trek and it’s big enough that Voyager figures can equip it rather comfortably. It’s a little big for Tow-Line, but that’s OK, because you can also save it for his mobile weapons platform.

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That’s right! The weapons platform is made by pulling out a set of treads for the front and raising the wheels in the back. We’re getting a little into M.A.S.K. territory here and the results aren’t exactly inspiring. There are some sculpted guns on the inside of the shell, which would be a lot more impressive if they could pop up. You can, however, attach the energon weapon to it and now Tow-Line has something to ride into battle or a remote drone that can do his fighting for him while he sits back and has a cool, frosty mug of energon. Work smart, not hard! That’s Tow-Line’s motto! And if you’re wondering, yes Tow-Line can combine with other Energon Deluxe Autobots, and no I’m not going to dig any out to show you because I hate the whole gimmick. I will, however, point out that he can combine with his own weapons platform to become a horrible, twisted, rolling tank-bot.

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The craziest thing about Tow-Line is that, as far as I’m aware, he was never repainted into Ironhide or Ratchet. It’s a puzzling oversight, considering Hasbro’s love of repaints and the fact that the mold seems like it was practically created for this very purpose. I’ve seen some pretty good custom jobs and they look fantastic. I think a two-pack would have been a great idea and certainly better than the Ironhide and Ratchet that we got in the Classics line, albeit a little undersized. Other than that, this is a cool, but not exceptional, little figure that mainly deserves notoriety because Hasbro tried something different with him. It might have been an interesting idea for a sub-group of Transformers, but whatever the case, Tow-Line’s curious design seemed to be a one-shot experiment.

Transformers Energon: SWAT Team (Prowl and Checkpoint) by Hasbro

It’s Transformers Thursday again and today I’m busting out a curious pair of Deluxes that Hasbro repainted and boxed together as what I seem to recall was a K-Mart exclusive. These guys were originally released in Energon as Rodimus and Prowl. For this release they got a matching SWAT inspired deco and renamed Checkpoint and… ah… Prowl. Ok! I don’t believe I’ve looked at either of these molds here on FFZ before, and I’ve got no packaged shot, so let’s jump right in with Prowl and his vehicle mode.

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Prowl’s alt mode is just batshit crazy. It’s a futuristic racecar turned into a police vehicle, complete with police lights on the raised rear spoiler. With its huge rear wheels and exhaust pipes sticking out the back and an enclosed transparent blue cockpit, nothing about this design lends itself to being a credible police car. The deco for this version includes white paint, printed details for the headlights, and the words “Police” along with some Chinese lettering on the sides. The spoiler is left grey as it was on the original Energon Prowl, which feels out of place. I think they should have painted it white to match the rest of the new deco. Also, stamping “SWAT” somewhere on the toy would have made him match Checkpoint a little better.

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Prowl comes with a transparent blue missile launcher that can be pegged into the holes on either side of the cockpit and it certainly adds a nice big piece of ordinance to the vehicle mode. If you have both Prowls, you can really deck him out with a launcher on each side. Honestly, I’m usually a fan of the creativity and imagination that went into a lot of the Energon and Cybertron vehicle modes, but I can’t really get behind this one. I like the design of the vehicle, but making it a police car is just too weird for me. Let’s move on to Checkpoint’s alt mode.

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Now here’s an alt mode that I really dig. It was a bit of an odd choice when it was originally released as Rodimus, but I really love what Hasbro did with it here. What we have is a kind of futuristic truck that looks credible enough as a SWAT vehicle to me. It’s been re-cast in white plastic; you’ve got hazard stripes running down the sides of the hood, painted police lights on the roof, and SWAT stamped across the rear spoiler. Cool! I would have sculpted armor plating for the windshield, but I could still see this thing ramming through warehouse doors and breaking up drug cartels. Oh yeah! Checkpoint has a transparent orange missile launcher that can mount on the back of the spoiler, and I think it’s supposed to pass for some kind of turbine engine spitting fire out of the back. I would have preferred a more conventional looking weapon that I could point forward over the roof, but I’ll concede this piece looks pretty good on the toy. Ok, so let’s transform these guys and see what we got.

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Prowl… oh, Prowl. Where do I even begin with what I don’t like about this guy? Is it the squat and wonky proportions? The fact that he doesn’t look like he has a pelvis? The exposed hollow forearms? Or maybe it’s the way his head sits so far back and his chest obscures it? I don’t think there’s a single thing I like about Prowl’s robot mode and that’s saying a lot because I can find charm in even some of the worst Tranformers. Ok, so I kind of dig the concept of the back wheels landing on the top of his shoulders. It reminds me of G1 Slapdash. I also get a kick out of the way his exhaust pipes hang off his head. But at this point, I’m just complimenting him on his eccentricities. Let’s move on and see if Checkpoint is any better.

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Yes, Checkpoint has his share of issues too. His head is way too small and if you turn him around you can see that he’s really two dimensional. It’s like all the detail went on the front, almost like he’s a standee. But on the whole I can’t hate on this design. I love the way the shoulders angle out with the wheels on them and that giant Autobot emblem on his chest is awesome. Even the way his cab converts into his legs and feet is pretty cool. I think the deco used for Rodimus works better on the robot mode, but I’m still perfectly Ok with displaying this figure on my shelf. And displayed on the shelf is really where he belongs, because his articulation sucks.

And then there are the combined Powerlinx modes. I’ve gone on record that I’m not a big fan of the Energon combining gimmick, but since we’re dealing with a set of two figures here, we might as well see how they look. Let’s start with Powerlinx Checkpoint…

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Jesus H. Christ! What the hell, Hasbro? What the hell? It’s like the Autobot equivalent of a human centipede. I’m pretty sure I could take two random Transformers from any era and concoct a better combiner than this. Ok, maybe not, but this is really weak. The toy engineer who signed his name to this probably went home that night, drank a quart of scotch and shut himself in the closet out of a sense of shame. It can barely move its arms, which is the only thing preventing him from shooting himself in the head. How about Powerlinx Prowl?

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It’s better. It’s not good, but it’s better. At least this looks like a functional robot. Yes, half of poor mangled Checkpoint is hanging off the back of it, but from the front, Powerlinx Prowl doesn’t look all that bad.

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I was kind of excited to dig this set out and play around with it again, but now that I have I’m pretty disappointed. I’m being charitable when I say that this set has not aged well. I still dig Checkpoint as a standalone figure. He’s not fantastic or anything, but he’s solid enough. As for Prowl, I wasn’t a fan of the mold the first time around and this set hasn’t really done anything to help it along. One might have expected a set of two Energon Deluxes to be selected for their optimum combining ability, but I can’t say as these two combine any better than most of the toys, which is to say the gimmick may be well intentioned, but it still just sucks.

Next Transformers Thursday, I’ll try to get away from the Energon and Cyberton and journey back to the line that was responsible for getting me back into collecting Transformers… Robots in Disguise!

Transformers Energon: Omega Supreme by Hasbro

This month Hasbro is redefining what it means to be a big Transformer with the release of the new Titan Class Metroplex. And while some have the big guy in hand already, I still have another week to wait for mine. But that’s ok, because it allows some of the big bots in my collection to enjoy their status until Metroplex arrives and knocks them down a few pegs. A bunch of weeks ago I featured Cybertron Metroplex so today let’s take a look at Energon Omega Supreme. Not only is he a big figure, but he’s also a Headmaster too! This guy was a major pain in the ass to shoot because my regular staging area can barely handle 1:6 scale figures, so I had to cobble together a new backdrop with posterboard, scotch tape and alcohol-fueled determination. I’m also running on no sleep today, so apologies if today’s feature seems shoddy and rushed. There’s no package shot, so let’s jump right into his alt mode.

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Omega actually has two alt modes: A battleship and some kind of train with a giant claw on it. At least, I think I remember it being referred to as a train. I’d prefer to just think of it as a truck because if it’s a train, there aren’t going to be too many places where Omega’s two halves can rendezvous and hook up. Honestly, the battleship is by far my favorite of the two, because I have no idea what Hasbro was going for with the other one. If you want to you can string them together to make one long nonsensical vehicle, but I prefer not to because it would require an even bigger staging area than the makeshift one I’m using now.

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The battleship is probably not the most exciting toy around, but I do dig it a log. It had four rotating turrets and one of them fires off two missiles. There’s also a command tower that can transform to accommodate Omega’s Headmaster as a command module. The battleship has tiny wheels so it can roll along, but I prefer to think of this thing as a spaceship along the same lines as Space Battleship Yamato. There’s not a lot more to say about this half of Omega, so let’s check out his train… crane… truck… thingy.

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I shouldn’t be too hard on this half of Omega because it’s probably the more exciting toy of the two. I think the front half of it looks great. It’s part bullet train and it has that imaginative vibe to it that Energon and Cybertron were great for producing in their vehicles. It’s hinged in the middle and the claw on the back can rotate, raise and lower and extend outward. There’s a transparent canopy on the back which can open. I’m pretty sure there’s some special way the Headmaster can go in there, but I can’t remember how. That’s all I’ve got on the train half, let’s slap these things together and in the words of Hasbro themselves… BUILD GIANT ROBOT!!!!

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Omega certainly has a unique transformation among Transformers. Each vehicle basically becomes half of the robot, each with one arm and one leg, and then you stick them together. There’s very little transforming to do for the train half, whereas the battleship half needs a little more fiddling. Once you have the two halves together, you transform the Headmaster and you’ve got yourself Omega Supreme in all his patchwork glory.

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Honestly, when I look at this figure, I have no idea why I love it as much as I do. He’s kind of a cobbled together mess and his color scheme is all over the place. Nonetheless, I do indeed love him. I think the homage works pretty well, and there are just enough cool and thoughtful little things about his design that make me forget about the bad. The turrets on his shoulder, for example, are well placed as is the extra one on his left arm. I love the way he can still extend the crane arm out to reach out and crush Decepticons. There’s also just something so satisfying about playing around with his ridiculously strong ratcheting joints.

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Before wrapping up, I’d be remiss if we didn’t look at the Headmaster. As I recall, this was one of the most exciting things about this figure for me when he was released. I always loved the Headmaster gimmick and doing it on a figure this big offers lots of opportunities. The robot mode is quite good for what it is, but like most Headmaster’s it’s just a matter of taking a robot with a face on his back and folding him into a ball. This guy has a flip down shield to hide Omega’s face and make it look more like a backpack.

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Omega was repainted and released as Omega Sentinel. Naturally, I had to have him too, but he was sold off a year or so ago during one of my desperate struggles to make more room. That version had a more uniform paint scheme which didn’t serve the Omega homage all that well, but made for an all-around more attractive figure. Energon Omega was also retooled, repainted, and re-released this year as the Year of the Snake Edition and it is in every way superior to this original release. The only reason I haven’t picked that one up yet is because I have so much on my plate right now, but maybe next year if he’s still around I’ll scoop him up and retire this Energon version.

Transformers Energon: Cliffjumper by Hasbro

Welcome to the first official Transformers Thursday. This will be the ongoing day of the week where I roll up my sleeve, dig deep into a random tote of Transformers and pull out something to feature. As promised during last Friday’s Ironhide feature, I’m back to look at Energon Cliffjumper, if for no other reason, so I can actually try out this combining gimmick. You see, kids, when two Voyager Class Energon Transformers love each other, they… well, let’s just say that one of them wears the other one as pants. There’s no package shot, so let’s jump right to Cliffjumper’s alt mode.

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Ugh. I can usually find a lot of love in my heart for Transformers, but I seriously hate this alt mode. It’s like a completely unnecessary cross between a Dune Buggy and a Formula-1 racer. If I squint hard enough, I can kind of see a little Road Warrior battle-wagon thing going on, but it’s not enough to save my disdain for this vehicle. Funny enough, I think what really bothers me the most about it is it’s just so obnoxiously big. It’s like the designers were so proud of this monstrosity that they had to super-size it. Ironhide is a friggin truck and Cliffjumper practically dwarfs him. If this were a Deluxe figure, I might have been more accepting, but suffice it to say this is one Transformer that I would never display in his alt mode.

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Unwarranted size aside, Cliffjumper looks like he’s a patchwork vehicle. The canopy doesn’t look like it belongs on the chassis, the spoiler hanging off the back looks out of place, and there’s that big gap between the back wheels and the side panels where the designers just gave up and left it open. The f’ugly deco doesn’t help matters either. What color is that canopy… ochre? With red windows? Toss in the brown and green chassis and some gold and grey highlights and the color palette used here is an absolute mess. Clearly this vehicle was designed with a hatred for life and little kids. Yes, the mold was recolored more sensibly as Beachcomber, but we’ll have to save him for another time.

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Transforming Cliffjumper has a few original ideas working for it, and fortunately when you get him into robot mode things improve a little. I do recommend caution with his missile launchers. They have hair triggers and almost always go off when I’m transforming him. I’m amazed I still have both the missiles. Anyway, like Ironhide, Cliffjumper has two configurations for his legs. The configuration shown above is what he’s supposed to look like, but I hate the stubby legs and the huge disfigured knees. Fortunately, you can extend his legs out to the combined configuration…

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Yup, I think that looks much better. Truth be told, I dig Cliffjumper’s robot mode. The spoiler may look odd on his alt mode, but it makes for a cool angled chest panel. I like the way his shoulders angle upward and the way his front wheels fold onto the front of his legs. The official mode has his back wheels angled to the front, but I prefer to tuck them behind his shoulders for a cleaner look. I’m not a huge fan of Cliffjumper’s head sculpt. The visor looks kind of goofy and the rest of the face is pretty non-descript. Still, all in all, this is a pretty solid and imposing looking robot. He can even wield his missile launchers in both hands.

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And then there’s the combining gimmick. Each Energon Autobot could combine with another Autobot in their same size class, which basically amounts to one becoming the top half and one becoming the bottom. If that’s not enough for you, each toy could do either half. It was certainly an ambitious gimmick, but sadly it rarely worked well and sometimes intruded on the engineering of the toys as stand-alone figures. I’m going to give it a go here, and it should be interesting since I don’t have the instructions anymore and I can’t remember the last time I ever attempted this. I’m mating him with Powerlinx Ironhide because the color scheme on the two is fairly agreeable. Let’s try it first with Cliffjumper on top. Ok, that sounded wrong.

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Oh boy. First off, this took me forever. I finally resorted to some pictures of the combined mode and even then it took me a while to figure it out. The Jameson probably didn’t help. It’s clearly not worth the effort either. Cliffjumper’s torso mode doesn’t look too bad, but his arms are just riddled with awkward kibble. And what you can’t see is the back half of poor Ironhide hanging off the ass of this abomination begging for the release of sweet death. I’m not sure how this gimmick got green lit, but let’s try it the other way around and see if it’s any better.

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Ok, I would say that’s better, but given the alternative, that’s not saying a lot. There’s less kibble for the arms at least. On the other hand, the top half of Cliffjumper is still hanging off the back of the figure in a crumpled mess. I still don’t like it.

So, Cliffjumper’s crappy alt mode is just about redeemed by a rather cool robot mode. When I do have my Energon Transformers on display, I’m usually happy to have Cliff standing in the background towering over the Deluxes. He looks cool, so long as I never transform him and certainly never combine him with anyone else. In fact, I’ll likely be covering plenty of other Energon figures on Transformers Thursday, but I’m probably going to ignore the combined gimmick in most cases. It’s just not worth the effort to me, at least not with the Voyagers.

Transformers Energon: Ironhide by Hasbro

With Marvel Monday going into hiatus for a little while (Spoilers! Next Monday will be the last), I decided to introduce another theme day for the week, and that’s going to be Transformers Thursday (TFT). I know, today is Friday, but the whole Doctor Who trifecta bumped this one day. Planning, kids! It’s not just for breakfast anymore! Next week TFT will launch on time and feature a different Transformer figure plucked fresh out of one of the many totes in the Toy Closet. Today we’re starting with Energon’s Ironhide. Why? Because, why not? While I started getting back into collecting Transformers with Robots in Disguise, Armada was the first series since the G1 days that I was into collecting big time. When news came that it was ending and was to be replaced with a new line, I was sad and somewhat apprehensive about what would replace it. It’s hard to remember what I was so worried about…

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Oh yeah, now I remember! As I recall Ironhide was one of the first of the new Energon toys to be shown. It caused quite a stir and it’s easy to see why. Nonetheless, I was a shameful Transformers whore and I made many a midnight run to Walmarts everywhere until I came home triumphant. The packaging is long gone, so let’s jump right into Ironhide’s alt mode.

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For starters, I should point out that while I’ll stick to his stock name for this feature, I never call this guy Ironhide. I always call him Gears. Yes, it’s mostly because of the red and blue color scheme and the fact that he’s a truck, but partly because it amuses me to think of the little minibot becoming a big guy like this. Ironhide took a lot of people by surprise with his preschool-ish vehicle design, the ridiculous apparatus on top, and the fact that the designers did very little to hide the his head, which is stuck right on top of his roof. At least they made it so you could push down his helmet to hide his face. On the other hand, this is kind of like Ironhide thinking that if he can’t see you, you can’t see him. We’ll just play along.

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I still have no idea what the hell that mess on top of him is supposed to be. I presume it’s some kind of array of lights or sensor equipment? I like to think it’s a giant three lens death ray. I call it the Tri-raticator! Why else would a robot want something that stupid and ungainly mounted on top of them? It’s also the speaker system for some SFX. I’ve long forgotten what they sound like, and I’m sure as hell not about to invest in some new batteries to find out. The array turns and it also has a firing missile launcher. You can easily pop this whole assembly off the top of the vehicle, but it does leave a gaping hole, and considering that his head comes off with it, doing so feels like a cheat.

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The rest of the truck has some decent detail, despite looking very much like a Tonka Toy. The shock absorbers are actually sculpted in the wheel wells, the treads are sculpted on the tires and he has gas tanks sculpted on each side towards the back. The white paint on the running boards and fenders give the toy’s deco a little pop, but I really hate the use of the tan colored plastic. It doesn’t fit the rest of the deco well at all. Also, it’s well known I don’t care for painted windows on my Transformer vehicles, and the gold windshield and side windows aren’t helping Ironhide any.

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Transforming Ironhide is pretty simple, and the engineering is somewhat original. At this point I should note that as part of his gimmick (more on that later) Ironhide’s legs can be configured in two different ways. Pictured above is the official transformation, which gives him stocky legs with some ridiculously huge knees. I prefer to extend the legs out like this…

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Ah, much better! Not only does this mode give him more poseability in the legs, I just think it makes him look better proportioned and have better looking legs. As tepid as I am on Ironhide’s vehicle mode, I really do enjoy this robot mode a lot. It does still have a little of that preschool toy vibe to it, but there’s just something about it that I dig. The apparatus behind his head doesn’t look nearly so bad, although poor Ironhide has absolutely no peripheral vision, because he has a giant gun and missile launcher mounted right next to each of his ears. The chest design is pretty cool with a nice satisfying Autobot emblem sculpted right in, and I love the way the side panels of the cars open up like gullwing doors and form his shoulder armor. Great stuff!

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Ironhide sports a solid amount of articulation and some super satisfying ratchet joints to boot! The entire weapon assembly turns his head. His shoulders will rotate and have lateral movement and his elbows are ball jointed. His legs feature full rotation and lateral movement at the hips and have both swivels and hinges in the knees. The combining gimmick unfortunately robs him of any articulation in the torso, but he’s still loads of fun to play with.

Combining gimmick, you say? All the Voyager and Deluxe Class Autobots could combine with another figure in their size class. It’s not a gimmick that I was overly fond of, as it often had very mixed results and sometimes intruded on the design of the figure. I’ve gone long enough, so I’m going to swing back next Thursday with a look at Energon Cliffjumper and we’ll see how this whole combining thing works out.

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But before calling it quits for today, I should point out that Ironhide was repainted and re-released as “Powerlinx Ironhide.” Just like I call regular Ironhide Gears, I always call Powerlinx Ironhide Hound and consider him another character. It’s pretty obvious that this repaint was intended to be Hound and I think the homage works quite well with this toy. I’ll even go so far as to say I like this figure better because the tan plastic fits better with the military style deco.

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I like both of these figures a lot more than I probably should. The Tonka Toy vibe of their alt modes make them stand out like sore thumbs on my display shelves. On the other hand, I find a lot to love about their distinctive robot modes and they are undeniably fun to play with. It’s true the design on these guys doesn’t mesh well with a lot of other Transformers in my collection, but taken on their own, or at least with most of their Energon peers, they certainly have their merits.

Transformers Energon: Scorponok by Hasbro

Opening the first tote of Transformers for the first time in about a year, I wanted to first tackle the ones I was most excited about seeing again. Apparently 2004 was a great year for Transformers, because so far the first two figures that jumped out at me were both released that year. Last time we checked out the Autobot, Landmine, so let’s be fair and look at a Decepticon today. It’s Scorponok, and he is in a word: Awesome. Scorponok is a much simpler figure than Landmine, and I no longer own the inevitably released repaint, so this one shouldn’t be nearly as long winded as yesterday’s entry. Let’s check him out…

Behold, Scorponok’s primary alt mode. It’s like a construction vehicle had sex with a robot scorpion. At the core of this awesome monstrosity is a truck cab with two laser cannons, an extended hood and retro-looking grill sitting atop two triangular tank treads. The “tail” bends up over the cabin with a hook. Attach a Minicon and you can deploy a pair of laser cannons. He’s got a pair of giant claws jutting out from the front and the claws can retract to reveal hidden missile launchers. The amount of detail on this sculpt is so crazy, I don’t even know where to begin. There are panel lines everywhere, hinged moving parts, sculpted guns, swiveling guns, vents and grills, its all a lot for the eye to take in. The coloring is just as wild with green camo, orange, brown and loads of cool looking yellow translucent bits. The orange scoops on the front claws even have a nice paintwash, which is something you just don’t see Hasbro doing with a lot of Transformers. There’s a lot of love in this mold.
The toy does feature electronic sounds, but this thing had a hair trigger, so I took the batteries out a long time ago and quite frankly I can’t remember what noises it makes.
Scorponok is technically a Triple Changer, as he does have an official jet mode. Overall, its a fun extra mode, but as is often the case with these secondary modes, its a little funky. The engines that hang off the top of the back don’t really lock into anything and are just flapping in the breeze. Still, I’ve seen worse.
Going to robot mode, Scorponok is one big tower of Decepticon love. Actually, he’s a little too stocky to be a tower of anything, but he’s still a formidable looking robot. The transformation isn’t terribly surprising. His treads become his legs, his scorpion claws become his arms, and the cab becomes his chest, complete with sculpted Decepticon logo. Scorponok doesn’t really have hands, but the claws can still open up to reveal missile launchers and he has cool little energon blades on his forearms.
The tail just hangs off the back and there are a number of things you can do with it from trying to keep it out of the way to putting it over his head to utilize the laser cannons. Normally tail kibble like this would be a problem, but Scorponok is a sturdy enough figure to be able to handle it without toppling backwards. Every last bit of amazing detail from the vehicle mode carries forward to his hyper-detailed robot mode. The head is a great sculpt with a flip up visor that creates a nice nod back to G1 Headmaster Zarak.

Scorponok’s deco remains pretty much the same in robot mode as it does in his vehicle modes. The paintwash on his hands looks great and he even has some silver scuffing on his toes that looks like the paint was worn off from him walking. Once again, I really dig the yellow translucent pieces.
Scorponok represents everything that I loved about the Energon figures. He’s a crazy and imaginative toy packed with so much sculpted detail that its hard to believe he’s in a line that is a continuation of Armada. His extra mode is not great, but its kind of fun and most importantly it doesn’t ruin the toy, even if it does overcomplicate it a bit. Whether sitting in his crazy Scorpion Death Machine mode or standing in his robot mode, this guy is definitely one of my favorite Transformers on the shelf.