Transformers Generations: Skywarp (IDW Comic Pack) by Hasbro

Batten down the hatches, Transformers fans because it’s a movie year and that means a lot of Hasbro’s attentions will be turned to “Age of Extinction” toys. Still, the year ahead may not be quite as bad, as Hasbro stated earlier this week at Toy Fair that they will keep the more “collector focused” Generations line running alongside the movie line. That’s good news because I don’t see myself buying any of the movie toys this time around. But I’m getting ahead of myself. There are still some Deluxe Comic Packs out there to be had, and a few I will no doubt have to pay a premium for online because I can’t find them in stores. Anyway, today I’m finishing off my Fall of Cybertron Seekers and I’m as happy as a Dinobot in beryllium bologna… or is that cesium salami? Whatever!



There’s Skywarp in all his delicious IDW Comic Pack glory. As I already mentioned these have not been showing up anywhere in my neck of the woods, so I’ve resorted to hunting them online where even the less desirable ones are going for crazy money. As usual, you get the figure packaged in his robot mode and set against the backdrop of a reprint comic book. Skywarp actually comes a little bit mis-transformed. I don’t remember that being the case with the last two releases of this mold, but I might have missed it. Let’s start with Skywarp’s alt mode.






This is the third time we’re looking at this mold and it’s worth mentioning that I was a little underwhelmed by it when it was first released as Starscream. I thought the Thundercracker deco helped it along quite a bit for the second release. How about the third time? Well, I’ve always been fond of Skywarp’s deco and while I think Thundercracker’s paint job is the best out of the three Seekers, Skywarp’s coloring looks mighty good too. The black and purple represent the most iconic Decepticon colors to me and here they look as snappy as ever along with the Decepticon tampos on the wings. Otherwise, there isn’t a lot that hasn’t been said about this mold. The weapons are exactly the same as we’ve seen two times before and peg in nicely under the wings.





Skywarp’s robot mode also holds no surprises, other than the left arm on my figure wants to pop out at the bicep whenever I rotate that joint. I’m going to have to see if a little nail polish remover might help hold it in place. There’s no new sculpting, which is fine as I’m very happy with the head sculpt on this mold and the light piping effect in the eyes is as great as ever. The weapons can be pegged into his forearms or he can hold them like guns. I think the one big outstanding gripe I have with the design is how much I wish the weapons would have been made to peg into his biceps like the Classic Seekers, but you can still get some decent action poses with his weapons. Otherwise, Skywarp is a pretty solid figure and while I always thought this robot mode was perfectly fine, I think it’s been growing on me even more.




It seems like an eternity ago when I first picked up a controller to play War for Cybertron and I’ve wanted a complete set of those Seeker designs ever since. It might have taken a while, but I have to give it to Hasbro, they eventually delivered. I still wish Starscream had been delivered as part of the WfC line and not the FoC line. The earlier figures were more complex, had better paint apps, and were all around better designs. Starscream would have probably been a better figure and so would his two Seeker chums, but what we got in the end aren’t at all bad and they still look smashing when displayed alongside War For Cybertron Megatron.

Transformers Generations: Thundercracker (IDW Comic Pack) by Hasbro

I don’t have a lot of patience for repaints these days, but when it comes to the Seeker Trinity, I will always open my wallet. That’s why it irks me when Hasbro releases a new Seeker mold and takes so long to release all three. We all remember what it was like when Classics/Universe 2.0 Skywarp was only released in a Target Exclusive 2-pack with Ultra Magnus, right? And even then it took forever to get Generations Thundercracker. Well, this time around Fall of Cybertron Thundercracker is following pretty closely on the original Starscream release. And thank Primus for that. He was my first Decepticon figure way back in 1984, so I’m always excited to get a new version of him.


I believe this is the sixth IDW Comic Pack that I’ve featured here so I’ll try to refrain myself from gushing over how much I love the presentation. You get Thundercracker carded in his robot mode in front of a reprint Spotlight comic and a G1-inspired grid-deco on the card. This is wonderful stuff, as always and opening it gives me a head rush from one of the greatest smells ever. Someone really needs to make cologne that blends the odors of new toy and comic book. And speaking of comics… the one included here is pretty good. It’s tied in with Autocracy, a book that I have still not read, so I’m coming at it as a one-shot. Thundercracker tries to hunt down Metroplex, but with his own secret agenda. Ironically, one of the coolest things about this comic for me was that it featured cameos by the old Deluxe Insecticons, like Venom and Chop Shop. Hasbro… Do these guys in IDW Comic Packs… Please!



Kicking things off with Thundercracker’s alt mode, it shares all the same highs and lows of the Starscream jet, but overall I find it to be a pretty cool design. Yeah, it’s a little chunky, but it does harken back a little bit to the old Cybertronian Tetra-Jet design. I think the biggest flaw is the fact that you can see through the top of it where the head folds in. On the other hand, everything locks together quite well, making it a fun and sturdy little toy.


I seem to recall my biggest issues with Starscream was the general lack of sculpted detail, particularly there aren’t too many panel lines, and the coloring was a little drab. Thundercracker doesn’t have any additional sculpting, but his deco goes a long way to help me to overlook that. The blue and grey plastic used here just pops a lot better than the drab grey used on Screamer. Cracker also has some more prominent paint apps, like the striping on his wings and the beautiful little purple apps on his vents. Even his Decepticon wing insignia are outlined in silver to make them stand out better than Starscream’s.


Thundercracker comes with repaints of the exact same chaingun style weapons as Starscream. Part of me thinks they could have tried something new, but then I also think these guys should have uniform weapons, so I’m Ok with it. However, the weapons are the only part of Cracker where the paint doesn’t outshine Starscream. Hasbro didn’t even bother to paint he barrels.




The transformation here is extremely simple, which isn’t always a bad thing. I would have really appreciated this transformation as a kid, because you could go from playing with him as a jet or robot pretty quickly. As a repaint, there are no surprises in the robot mode. I still dig this bot form quite a bit, although it has its issues. The feet are rather awkward and make it difficult for him to stand, especially in wide stances and the torso still has that hollow look to it if you aren’t viewing him from dead on. It’s also worth noting that we didn’t get a head re-sculpt, but considering Starscream didn’t have his trademark douchebag smirk, I kind of assumed Hasbro would be using the stock head for all three. Once again, I’m Ok with it, because it is a very nice head and the light piping is pretty spectacular when you hit it just right. Obviously, the deco on Thundercracker still shines in his robot mode, making him a lot more attractive and interesting to look at than Screamer.



You have a few different options on how Thundercracker can wield his weapons. Each one has two pegs and they can either be pegged into his forearms or he can hold them like guns. They’re large and sometimes awkward, but if I plug them into his forearms just right, I like having them slung under his arms so he can just sweep the room with firepower. Sweet!




In the end Thundercracker is one of those figures that shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s a straight repaint, but a very good one at that. The paintwork here really brings out the strengths of the mold and makes up for some of the lack of detail in the sculpt. I can liken it to the differences between the original Classics release of Starscream and the original Generations release of Thundercracker. It was an instance of the exact same mold taken to two extremes by different paint jobs. It’s not just an issue of the deco either. Cracker is just an example of better and more detailed coloring and for me that would make this the one to own if you only want to own this mold once. On the other hand, I can’t imagine just having one of the Seekers. Even now, I’m trying to resist paying top dollar for the Takara Skywarp, in hopes that he’ll be coming to the States via Hasbro at some point in time.

Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Grimlock by Hasbro

Seems like I can’t go a week without adding more Transformers to my collection, and I’m not complaining about it. The Fall of Cybertron figures have been hard to find around these parts, and I thought for sure I’d have to hunt Grimlock down online, dip into my booze fund, and pay scalper prices. Luckily, I spotted one lone Grimlock on the shelf at my local Target and scooped him up right away. Early production photos of this figure left me a little cold, but I’ve been asking for a Voyager version of Grimmy ever since the disappointing Classics release, so I had to at least give him a chance.


This is the first time I’m seeing the Generations Voyager box and at first I didn’t know what it was. The familiar G1-style grid seems darker than the cards, but I really dig the artwork and the complex die-cut pattern around the window is beaucoup stylish. I am getting weary of the pointless corner cut-outs and it seems even more awkward when it’s on the bottom of the box. None of that matters, though, because I have no room to save these boxes, so I gleefully shredded it to pieces in order to get at my figure. Grimlock is packaged in robot mode, but we’re going to start out with his dino mode.



There’s a lot of good and bad in Grimlock’s T-Rex mode. Let’s start with the good. The sculpting is impressive and the coloring is good. I don’t feel the sense of cheap cuts that Hasbro seems to be making with so many other figures in this line. Grimlock is loaded with panel lining and the red mesh paint apps on the panels scattered around his body really make the figure pop. The grey plastic Hasbro used looks fine, and while I would have preferred something a little more vibrant for the gold, it looks ok. Even Grimlock’s play gimmick is cool. Push the lever on the back of Grimlock’s neck and his mouth opens and his eyes and mouth light up with one of the most powerful LED’s I’ve ever seen in a toy. It’s so much better than the crappy light up effects in the Prime toys. All these things add up to a cool looking alt mode.


Ok, so now for the bad stuff. Grimlock’s dino mode is very hollow. Unless I’m looking at him from the top down, I can’t ignore the cavernous hole in his chest. Next up, his tail is awkwardly proportioned and has zero articulation. Finally, the upper parts of his legs are static, and this has to do with his transformation because they peg into place. You can bend his legs at the knees, but his upper legs stay locked in place, and that’s a big letdown. At least his arms are ball jointed. Any close look at his dino mode makes it clear that Hasbro favored the robot mode over all else. Grimlock probably stays in his alt mode more than almost any other Transformer, so making these kinds of sacrifices on his alt mode are rather suspect.


My biggest complaint with Classics Grimlock was that Hasbro seemed to go out of their way to change his transformation from the original G1 toy and the result was quite alienating. This version returns to the roots of the G1 transformation, but still manages to muck things up a bit. The thing about G1 Grimlock is that he worked great in both robot and dino mode because of his simple and clever transformation. In spite of being a Transformer, he was a great action figure in both modes and that was certainly a rare thing for a TF back in those days. I would argue that you could take the G1 Grimlock design, make just a few tweaks to improve proportions and articulation and come away with a perfect figure. No need to reinvent the wheel here, Hasbro. Fall of Cybertron’s Grimlock comes close, but then strays away by doing things like making the legs peg into place in dino mode and overcomplicating the conversion of the tail into the legs. Still, at least this version doesn’t have a split dino head for feet, because that was never  the Grimlock that I know.



And then there’s the robot mode, and this is where the figure truly shines. He’s perfectly proportioned with a hulking upper body, beefy shoulders and sturdy legs. He hits all the points of his G1 design, with the dino head worn as a backpack and his dino feet claws protruding from his wrists. I do kind of miss the wings he had in the G1 toy, but you can still angle the dino arms up if you want to get something a little closer to that aesthetic. The head sculpt is pure Grimlock with some excellent light piping. He’s replete with panel lines and major machinery detail sculpted into his chest and around his neck. The light up gimmick still works in this mode, this time lighting up his chest.


My other big issue with Classics Grimlock was his size. Grimlock should never be a Deluxe and that problem is certainly solved with this release. Even in the G1 cartoon he was significantly taller than Optimus. This version of Grimlock scales nicely next to my War for Cybertron Prime. Some may say he’s a little too big, but I think he’s just right.

In robot mode, Grimlock features great articulation. His head is ball jointed; his arms rotate at the shoulders and have some lateral movement as well. The elbows are hinged and there are swivels in his biceps and wrists. He legs are ball jointed at the hips, his knees have solid ratchet joints, and there are swivels in his thighs. A waist swivel would have been nice, but what we got is pretty good.




Grimmy comes with two accessories. You get the energon sword and shield he used in the game. Both are extremely nice pieces. I usually prefer guns with my Transformers, but in this case, the accessories fit the character and he looks great holding them. The only downside is that they don’t store anywhere on him. With all that hollow space in his dino chest, you’d think he could have found a way to store his weapons up there.



When all is said and done, me like Fall of Cybertron Grimlock. Grimlock no bozo, Grimlock is king. Sure, there are plenty of things I’d rather Hasbro had done differently and there were sacrifices that I feel didn’t need to be made. Still, the near perfection of his bot mode makes up for a lot of the unfortunate things about his dino mode. Fans of Grimlock haven’t received a whole lot of love from Hasbro over the years, so I think this release should go a long way to scratch that itch. Plus, he never gets tired of me telling him about the petro-rabbits.

Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Bruticus by Hasbro

It’s Saturday and I actually have the weekend off! I’ve got a lot of doing nothing ahead of me and I want to get started, so today’s entry will be a quickie. With all five Combaticons in my possession, I’m finally able to merge them into Bruticus. I should forewarn that based on Hasbro’s own photos of the gestalt mode, I was in no hurry to complete him. I bought the Combaticons strictly for their individual modes and to beef up my Decepticon forces. In short, I wasn’t expecting much at all. The end result was a bit of a pleasant surprise for my low expectations.


I’ll start out by saying that Bruticus is a solid figure that holds together fairly well. He runs into some issues if you try to pose him a lot, but his limbs form a strong lock and his torso is able to carry the weight and stand tall doing it. A gestalt that crumbles when you look at it funny is no fun at all, and Bruticus definitely avoids that issue. Another big plus is that he’s one of the most self-contained combiners that Hasbro has ever produced. If you disregard his gun, he doesn’t require any extra parts to make him work. Each robot transforms into his own component and they lock together. And his gun is rubbish anyway, and I just use that piece to fill out his hollow back. It may seem like a minor thing, but I really respect the engineering required to make him work without a pile of add-on parts. Sure, the Power Core Combiners did it, but their limbs didn’t turn into robots, so they don’t really count.


The shame of Bruticus is that he’s a three out of five. Onslaught, Brawl, and Swindle all hold up their end of the bargain and look great doing it. Onslaught is beautifully proportioned as the torso and the legs are satisfyingly chunky and solid. The problem is with Blast Off and Vortex. Blast Off is more of a solid arm, but he’s too long and too hollow in the forearm. Vortex, on the other hand (har har), well he’s just a mess. And the two of them are terribly mismatched. Blast Off’s arm mode is longer than Vortex and the hands look like they belong on two different robots.


The color scheme isn’t as terrible as I envisioned it. Yes, I would have liked it if Brawl was more military green than neon green, but I can live with it. I think Swindle would have been better if he were more mustard colored rather than bright yellow. The theme here, Hasbro, is just tune down the colors because it isn’t 1993 anymore. Onslaught and Blast Off’s colors are just fine. It’s Vortex that wrecks it for me. Vortex wrecks everything… except for the game… he kicked ass in that. The mix of that red and purple are just as bad in his limb mode as they are in his other modes. Screw you, Vortex! You suck!!!


Let’s face it, Hasbro has not been batting a thousand with their combiners. The Energon line’s attempts were well intentioned but ultimately a mess, saved only by Fanproject’s expensive additional figures and add-on parts. The Power Core Combiners were an interesting experiment, but their use of drones for limbs was a little beyond what we TF fans look for in a true combiner, and most of them were not all that good anyway. With all that being said, Bruticus is definitely one of their better attempts. I’d go so far as to say the torso and legs are quite good, and that ultimately the figure is marred by its unfortunately awkward and mismatched arms. With a little better engineering in Vortex and Blast Off, I think this figure could have been excellent. As it stands, I think it’s just a decent attempt and possibly an instance of lessons learned and a springboard for a better attempt later on down the road.

And that will finish me for the week. I have a lot more Transformers to look at, but in the interest of preventing the tragic condition known as Transformer Fatigue, I’m going to place a one week moratorium on TF features and just to make sure I stick to it, I’m going to make next week a theme and an unconventional one at that. I’ve already promised Monday to another Farscape feature, but after that it’ll be Jabba’s Palace week. That’s right, only Star Wars figures, and only ones connected to Jabba’s Palace. Not only will it keep me off the Transformers features for a week, but it’ll force me to finally open some of the figures I’ve been assembling for my new Jabba display. Catch ya all on Monday.

Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Brawl by Hasbro

Yeah, I bought Vortex last, but I didn’t want to end my look at the Combaticons with such a downer, so I saved Brawl here for the final feature. Not that Brawl is one of the better figures of the team, but he isn’t as terrible as Vortex. He’s solidly average. I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s dive in.


Transformers. Generations. Fall of Cybertron. Packaging. Seen it. Love it. BUILD GIANT ROBOT!!! Brawl is packaged in robot mode, but as usual we’ll start with his alt mode.



Ah, the Cybertronian tank. Make a box and put a turret on the top. It doesn’t even need real treads! It hovers!!! It’s the wet dream of any lazy Transformer designer. Back in the day Cybertronian tanks looked a lot more interesting and bad ass. Just look at Beast Machines Tankor. He’s got style. Brawl, on the other hand, just gets by as being a lime green gun platform. It’s a design so average that it makes War for Cybertron Megatron’s tank mode look like a freaking masterpiece. But at least his alt mode isn’t a ROFLCOPTER like poor Vortex. Brawl’s turret turns and the guns can elevate, which is cool. He also stores his handgun in his turret as a little extra firepower. I’m being hard on Brawl, but truth is his alt mode is Ok for what it is. I guess we’ll cut him some slack because he’s technically a triple changer. Not you, Vortex… you get no slack.


Transforming Brawl into robot mode is easy. If you pick him up and turn him over you can see everything that’s going on. Transforming him into his tank mode looks easy on paper, but in reality it’s kind of a pain in the ass. It’s all about adjusting his arms so that the tabs lock in just right. Like most Transformers, it gets easier the more you do it, but the first couple of times frustrated me, mainly because the payoff isn’t that great.




Brawl’s robot mode redeems him a bit. Again, he’s not spectacular, but he’s a solid enough looking robot. He has a fairly clean, well-proportioned form and some pretty some cool sculpted detail, like the pistons under his chest. He also has a really cool head sculpt, complete with a faceplate. On the downside, his combiner hinge and the back of the tank just hang down past his legs and are a bit of an eyesore. He’s extremely back heavy and his legs are all loosey goosey so he’s tough to stand up. The situation is made worse because his feet don’t lock into place, so there’s no support there either and they’re prone to just folding back up. Try to stand him and he usually just folds like a house of cards. His coloring comes mostly from his green and black plastic with a little grey here and there. I honestly don’t mind his green as much as I thought I would and at least Hasbro remembered to stamp his Decepticon emblem on his chest, unlike Vortex.


Brawl certainly has some issues, but I just find him to be a fun figure to play around with. He has good poseability, and I like to think that in robot mode, he can just hunch forward and lob artillery shells from the cannons on his back. You’ve got to like anyone who can do that! He’s still not a lot of toy for $15 as his engineering is overly simple and he has hardly any heft to him at all. I get it. Oil is expensive, plastic is expensive. But I can’t help but wonder why our Deluxes are getting smaller and simpler at the same time Hasbro is bringing Star Wars to 6-inch scale and introducing a new 2-foot tall Titan Class of Transformer.

Well, that wraps up my look at all of the individual Combaticons. Tomorrow we’ll put this week to bed with a look at Bruticus and see if the toy can be as delightfully badass as the character in the game.

Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Vortex by Hasbro

There were a lot of enjoyable levels in Fall of Cybertron, but surprisingly, Vortex’s were among my favorites. The big open area and the ability to strafe Autobots, transform into robot, beat the hell out of them, and then transform back into helicopter and fly off was really damn cool. I replayed his parts more than any others and all the time I had a big smile on my face while thinking, “Damn, it’s good to be a Decepticon!” It’s pretty sad and ironic that such a fun character in the game wound up with the worst of all the Combaticon figures. There’s no way to sugar coat this, so let me take a couple of belts of Jameson and then we’ll dive right in.


There’s the Generations packaging. Amazingly, it still looks good while holding such a shitty figure. Vortex is probably the best use of the BUILD GIANT ROBOT sticker, because when I saw him hanging on the peg, I wanted to leave him there, but then I realized that if I didn’t buy him, I couldn’t BUILD GIANT ROBOT! I’ve come this far, what’s another fifteen bucks to see what Bruticus is all about, right? Combiners are the C&Cs and BAFs of the Transformers Universe. It makes you buy figures you don’t really want. I don’t have a lot more to say about the package, other than it looks like Hasbro tried to tone down his awful colors for the character art, but that’s like toning down an exploding sun and it doesn’t help when the actual figure can be seen right below it. Let’s start with his helicopter mode.




Vortex is a helicopter in the most abstract of senses. He’s a big angular mess with rotor blades on top and some landing skids. He kind of looks like a crude polygon model of a helicopter from an early PlayStation game. If helicopters had mothers, this helicopter’s mom would have drowned it in the tub. It’s possible that the concept of a Cybertronian helicopter just doesn’t work that well, but it doesn’t change how awful this mode is in execution. And then there are the colors. What the hell were you thinking here, Hasbro? Vortex looks like he’s made to represent the worst, most obnoxious deco that Generation 2 had to offer. Which is crazy, because there is an actual Generation 2 version of this figure and it looks subdued and rational by comparison. The horrible combination of that purple and red coupled with the piercing yellow on his swords makes my eyes bleed hot tears of burning agony. Maybe Vortex’s robot mode can save this figure…



Ah, nope. While not nearly the atrocity that his alt mode is, Vortex’s robot mode is decidedly average. The proportions are ok but his arm articulation is awkward and I don’t like the way his head just hovers a bit above his chest. He also feels unbelievable cheap and hollow and nothing like a $15 toy should feel. Seriously, there’s just something about his complete lack of heft that sets him apart from the other Combaticons and makes him feel like a knock off. It probably doesn’t help that he’s missing his Decepticon emblem on his chest. There’s a space in the mold where it was supposed to go and it’s pictured on photos of the toy on the cardback, but either my Vortex missed out or Hasbro decided it wasn’t cost effective to stamp a tiny emblem on a $15 toy that feels cheap and small to begin with. Sheesh! The colors in robot mode are a tiny bit more palatable, but only because he shows more purple and a little less of that terrible and obnoxious red.



Vortex comes with a pair of swords that are every bit as obnoxiously colored as he is. Someone at Hasbro clearly said, “the colors… not obnoxious enough… make the swords blinding, neon yellow!” The swords can clip onto Vortex’s skids in his helicopter mode or he can wield them in his hands.


It seriously pains me to hate on any Transformer, but I can’t help it here. Vortex is poop. Just about every aspect of this figure offers me something to dislike. If you’re a fan of the trippy neon colors of the G2 era, than maybe you’ll find the deco to your liking, but even if that’s the case the rest of the figure is still garbage. And as much as I dislike the engineering and the deco, it’s the fact that this figure feels so cheap that I’d expect to find it hanging in a Family Dollar store on a generic card that said SUPER CHANGING ROBOT HELICOPTER or some other nonsense. The Fall of Cybertron toys have been fairly solid thus far, but when Hasbro releases crap like this figure and charges $15 for it, they are further sullying their reputation. At this point, Hasbro, you’re driving collectors into the arms of the Fansprojects, Perfect Effects, and TFC’s out there. I’d much rather spend $60 on a better looking, better quality, better engineered, deluxe sized figure from one of them, than $15 a piece of crap like this.

Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Starscream by Hasbro

It’s more Fall of Cybertron love from Hasbro and this time we’re taking a look at everyone’s favorite traitorous Air Commander… Starscream. Unlike yesterday’s entry, Starscream actually played a pretty major part in the game. While he didn’t quite rise to the levels of hip-thrusting outrageousness as he has in TF: Prime, he did ham it up pretty good with some memorable moments. I was super disappointed that we didn’t get a figure of him out of War for Cybertron, so I was particularly excited to get this release into my collection. Let’s see how he turned out.

Yep, there’s the Generations packaging… again. The card has some pretty good character art and while his bio is a little bland, I do like that Hasbro make the connection between Starscream isolating himself on his orbital platform and him becoming a total nutter. While G1 purists may scoff, I think Fall of Cybertron came up with some clever retconned explanations for some of the characters we all know and love. I also dig the fact that one of the game’s achievements was destroying all of Starscream’s self-aggrandizing idols and statues. Fun!

Starscream’s jet mode may not be the sexiest aircraft out there, but the design does seem to feature a little something for everyone. There’s a tiny bit of the old tetra-jet design in him, but most of what’s here looks like a cross between Energon Starscream and a dash of War Within. The sculpt itself is kind of plain with more than a few smooth, featureless surfaces. I guess the guy that does the panel lining was off this day.  It locks together very well, although he’s so simple, you only have to look at him for a moment to deconstruct all there is about how he will transform. In theory, the deco is good and I like the use of the G1 colors, but I don’t find the grey plastic and matte red and blue paint all that appealing. The toy just looks unintentionally dark and bland. I think Hasbro would have done well to use a plastic more similar to WFC Megatron and used some glossy paint to make the figure pop more. Still, when all is said and done he’s a pretty good representation of the in-game jet.

As I’ve already hinted, transforming Starscream is frightfully simple, but that seems to be par for the course with the Fall of Cybertron figures. I can think of any number of jets that Hasbro put out over the last 10 years in the Basic/Scout assortment that are more complicated than this Deluxe. On the plus side, he avoids a lot of the fiddly nonsense that came with Jazz and Sideswipe. Sometimes simple isn’t a bad thing, especially if you’re a kid playing with him and want to be able to get him from mode to mode with relative ease.

Overall, I dig the configuration of Starscream’s robot mode. It’s pretty close to the in-game model, and while The Seekers were probably my least favorite of the High Moon Studio designs, I still like them well enough. I think it may be the underdeveloped feet that bug me the most. Still, I consider it a plus that he retains a lot more of his traditional G1 design than many of the other characters. The angled wings look cool, as does the re-imagining of his shoulder intakes. The hollow torso is a bit of a turn off when viewed from certain angles, but his silhouette from the front is pretty solid. I’m extremely pleased with the way the head sculpt turned out and the light piping is the eyes is exceptionally effective.  The deco is also very G1 inspired, although as with the jet mode, I’m still rather unhappy about the bare grey plastic and the drab, matte paint.

While Starscream still suffers from the slightly diminished size of the other Fall of Cybertron Deluxes, I’m glad to see he does scale quite well alongside WFC Megatron and the other Decepticons. Just don’t stand him next to Bumblebee or Cliffjumper.

Starscream comes with a large double minigun that can split apart into two weapons. They look rather reminiscent of the missile launchers used by the Bayformer Starscream toys. He can hold the combined weapon in either hand, or you can split it and have him dual wield it, or you could mount them on his arms in traditional null-ray fashion. Options are good.

Starscream is a fairly solid effort, but he’s very simple for a Deluxe Transformer and that’s likely to bother a lot of collectors. While you could certainly argue that fifteen bucks should net you more complex engineering, Starscream’s simplicity isn’t really a sticking point for me. The deco on the other hand is. So much so that this may be the first time I seriously consider importing the Takara version. The grey plastic looks about the same, but the glossy paint used on the import makes a big difference. Either way, after finally having this figure in hand, I can’t help but wonder about the Starscream we might have got if he were released in conjunction with the previous game, when Hasbro’s standards were a little higher.

And that’s another week in the bag. I’ve got more Fall of Cybertron stuff for next week, but in the interest of variety, I’ll save those for the end of the week and we’ll start out on Monday by taking a look at an action figure line that I haven’t featured around these parts before. Virgin territory! How exciting!!!

Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Sideswipe by Hasbro

It took me a while, but my Xbox is up and running again and I was finally able to play through Fall of Cybertron. And play through it again, and one more time. Needless to say I enjoyed the hell out of it, and it’s given me a new motivation to track down some of the remaining figures. Yeah, Jazz’s figure left me cold and he made my naughty list for 2012, but the three Combaticons I’ve featured so far more than made up for him. Let’s see if some remolding and fresh paint can make the Jazz mold better the second time around.

There’s the Generations packaging. I love it, but I think I’ve said all there is to say about it. Sideswipe comes packaged in his robot mode and his card sports some very nice character art. I also really dig his bio on the back of the card about him being a contender for racing champion before he joined the Autobots. He didn’t play a very large role in the game, but we won’t hold that against him. As always, let’s start in vehicle mode.

So, obviously Sideswipe is a remold and repaint of Jazz, but Hasbro did some nice reworking and recoloring of the mold to make him look like a new vehicle. The top of the alt mode is completely new, including the configuration of the hood, front bumper and spoiler. Gone are Jazz’s exhaust pipes and in their place is a more conventional looking car canopy. Sideswipe features less sculpted panel lines, but makes up for it with a more dynamic deco. The bulk of the body is red plastic with painted white racing stripes and silver and black accents. All in all, I had no problems with Jazz’s vehicle design and I dig Sideswipe’s too. It comes off as a much sleeker, speed machine, although some may take issue that he looks more like a concept Earth car than some of the other Cybertron alt modes in the game. Me? I’m fine with it.

Despite the changes to the mold, Sideswipe transforms exactly the same as his Autobuddy, Jazz. It’s a frightfully simple transformation on paper, but in practice, it’s oddly finicky. Going into alt mode requires a lot of tabs lining up just right, and going into robot mode requires a ridiculously annoying mechanic involving the torso, which can’t be adequately conveyed in the instructions. I found I just had to fiddle with it, becoming white with rage, until I finally remembered how it works.

In robot mode, the parts shared between the figures are a lot more obvious. The legs and arms are identical molds, but the paint differences distinguish them apart pretty well even when the figures are standing alongside each other. Sideswipe’s deco is really sharp and it shows just how far some nice coloring and good paintwork will make a mold. I’m still a little iffy on how the head just kind of floats inside the torso, but I do really like Sideswipe’s head sculpt. It really suits the character. Sideswipe also still has that extra set of wheels in robot mode, but as with Jazz one set is mostly concealed at the shoulders. Unfortunately, Sideswipe still has Jazz’s size problem. In robot mode he just feels a little too small, especially if he’s standing beside WFC Bumblebee or Cliffjumper.

Sideswipe comes with a huge ass gun with an extending barrel. I can’t decide whether it’s a cool BFG or just awkward and goofy. He can hold it in either hand or it can mount onto his vehicle mode, but it looks terrible mounted on his alt mode. The weapon is a decent enough design and sculpt, but it’s really way too big and I don’t tend to think of giant guns when I think of Sideswipe.

So, yeah, this guy is a cool little figure and I do find myself enjoying the mold a lot more than Jazz. Maybe it’s because Sideswipe’s red plastic and more accomplished paint apps look so much better than Jazz’s bare white plastic. Maybe it’s because I had a better idea of what to expect from the figure having already owned Jazz. Whatever the case, Sideswipe shows that Hasbro can be masters at tweaking a mold and making it work very well for different characters. He’s still not a lot of toy for $15, but maybe I’m getting desensitized to that as well. Sure there are things that irk me about Jazz’s design, which are still present here, but I’m not at all sorry I picked him up.

FigureFan’s Disappointments of 2012, Part 2

Thought yesterday was depressing? Oh no. Don’t pass out on me. Not yet… Here’s the last five.

Thundercats: 6-inch Classic Lion-O by Ban Dai… Make no mistake, I don’t think this is a bad figure. It certainly has issues, like unpainted joints and an unfortunate head sculpt, but it’s still a solid figure. So why does it appear here? Because it was completely unnecessary. The 8-inch Lion-O was probably my favorite figure of 2011, and there was no reason for Ban Dai to backpedal on it. Nonetheless, Ban Dai got hammered by fans for making the figure in the oddball 8-inch scale and then when they relented and re-released the figure in a more standard 6-inch scale, collectors railed against them for starting over. I’m not saying Ban Dai didn’t mishandle a few things with the Thundercats license (that Tower of Omens was a piece of shit!) but overall I like what they delivered and I was sorry to see the line not work out. This Lion-O figure represented the beginning of the end for the revival of Classic Thundercats and while I still bought it to support the line, just looking at it makes me sad.

Transformers Generations: Fall of Cybertron Jazz by Hasbro… Poor Jazz represents everything that is wrong with Transformers these days. He’s too small, too simple, has too few paint apps, and he’s too expensive. Compare him with the Deluxe toys from War for Cybertron and he just comes up wanting in every possible way. While some figures in the line have escaped these cutbacks, Jazz personifies the struggle that Hasbro and other toy companies are having producing quality product against the rising costs of plastic and production.

Mass Effect 3: Miranda by Big Fish… I know what you’re thinking… Thane was way worse than Miranda. True, but I wasn’t looking forward to Thane, hence he wasn’t really a disappointment. Miranda, on the other hand was a major disappointment. Plus, her left arm fell off. As shitty a figure as Thane was, at least he didn’t break while being removed from the package. This line certainly had its ups and downs, and it’s a shame that Miranda had to be one of the downs.

Young Justice 4-inch Series, Wave 3… Ok, let me clarify. Sportsmaster was in Wave 3 and he was a solid figure, so what I’m really talking about here are those three shitty stealth repaints that I had to buy to finish my Hall of Justice. I’ve honestly bitched about this sorry situation enough in the individual features, culminating in my need to go onto Ebay to get Stealth Kid Flash. Because it wasn’t bad enough Mattel made us buy these, they also made it impossible to find the last figure in the wave. This situation, my friends, is customer appreciation at its finest.

DC Universe Classics: Orange Lantern Lex Luthor… What is it with Mattel making me buy shitty figures to complete Collect & Connect constructs? They’re evil marketing geniuses that’s what. I hated this figure so much that I actually considered paying more to get just the C&C part off of Ebay so I wouldn’t have to admit to having purchased the figure. He’s pure garbage, and while he might appeal to collectors with a translucent plastic fetish, all he does for me is make me mad when I see him peeking out from the back of my Lantern shelf.

And there’s the light at the end of the tunnel and we have emerged into 2013. We’re done with canned recycled retrospective feature week and tomorrow I’ll be back with the first new feature of the year.

Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Blast Off by Hasbro

Yesterday’s Lego set was a brand new purchase, so it didn’t help me weed out the receivings pile that has been growing ever larger over the last couple of weeks. In an effort to start chipping away at that, we’re going to delve into some Transformers. Later in the week I’m going to check out an older one from the Cybertron line, but today’s feature is one that should be showing up on the pegs by now. It’s another Combaticon from the Fall of Cyberton game. A game, I might add, which I still haven’t finished because my Xbox is still lying in pieces on a desk in my spare room.

Ah, the new Generations packaging. I never tire of admiring its beauty. But we’ve looked at it more than a few times now, so I’ll try not to dwell on it. Blast Off comes carded in his robot form and the package points out in various ways that he is but one component in your quest to… BUILD GIANT ROBOT!!! Delightful! You get a pretty cool little bio on the back along with the welcome return of Tech Specs. As usual, I’m going to start with Blast Off’s alt mode.

Awww, yeah. Now that’s a cool alt mode! Blast Off pays homage to his G1 roots with a purple space shuttle as his vehicle mode. Of course, he’s a Cybertronian shuttle. But, “FigureFan, that makes no sense. Blast Off was created on Earth by Starscream so he shouldn’t even have a Cybertronian mode.” Well, my friend… Firstly, Blast Off was given a new body on Earth, but his Spark (or whatever they called it in G1) was stolen from Cybertron to give him that new body. Obviously he had another body before his Spark was imprisoned on Cybertron, so maybe this is his original body. Secondly, Blast Off’s new body was a derelict WWII fighter that miraculously turned into a space shuttle, so this is all bullshit anyway. May I proceed?

I absolutely love this shuttle design. It has the vague profile of an Earth-type Space Shuttle, but it’s beefier and obviously built for combat. The detailing in the silver engines is really striking for a Deluxe Class figure and makes this thing looks like it’s ridiculously overpowered. I’d like to imagine it leaves a trail of thick, black exhaust fumes wherever it goes. Everything about Blast Off’s hull looks jagged, like he was made to inflict pain and destruction.

The coloring is almost perfect. The traditional Decepticon purple looks great with the black accents and the silver-grey of the exposed engine. I’m not terribly keen on the fluorescent yellow. It’s bright and gaudy and while I think it would have worked ok for just the window area, I don’t like it at all on the weapons. If Hasbro had just toned down the yellow a bit, I would have had zero complaints.

Blast Off has a pair of detachable weapons that are very reminiscent to the weapons of the G1 toy. You can clip them onto his wings in two different configurations. One way gives him extra tail fins on his wings, the other way extends his wing tips just a bit. Either way you clip them on, they provide him with some serious wing-mounted cannons.

Transforming Blast Off is fairly simple and when you’re done you one very cool looking Decepticon warrior. He has good proportions and, like his shuttle mode, he’s brimming with sculpted detail. He doesn’t really have any feet, and while he stands just fine, I think some actual feet would have complemented his aesthetics quite a bit. I do love the way his giant engines form his shoulder armor, they give him a powerful, linebacker kind of look. Or maybe he’s cosplaying World of Warcraft. The head sculpt includes two beady yellow eyes and a mouth plate. I can’t say as I remember his G1 headsculpt all that well, so I won’t comment on the homage. You have a few options on what to do with his wing cannons. He can hold them like guns, or you could clip them onto his arms two different ways.

So where’s the problem? The problem is with articulation and the design of Blast Off’s arms and shoulders. While the shoulders do peg in during transformation, they still float around on a ball joint. When you articulate the arms at the shoulder, the entire shoulder plate has to move with it and I can’t help think how much better Blast Off would have been if the shoulders remained static while the arm moved. It also inhibits the arm’s articulation a lot and will pop out if you try to over articulate it in the slightest. The legs feature ball joints at the hips, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the ankles, which is all very good in theory, and yet the legs still feel kind of stiff. I think it’s because there are no feet.

Blast Off and Onslaught really have a lot in common. Both are amazing looking figures, but have some serious design flaws in their arms. And like Onslaught, I’m going to give Blast Off a pass despite his design shortcomings. His shuttle mode is one of my favorite Transformers alt modes in a long while and his robot mode is no slouch either. The toy is packed with great coloring and superbly sculpted detail, making him feel like Hasbro actually put about fifteen bucks worth of love into this figure. Alas, the design of the shoulders and the overall articulation make him not all that much fun to play with in robot mode. I’m sure a lot of this has to do with having that third alt mode (i.e. Bruticus’ right arm), but it definitely detracts from him as a stand-alone figure. Still, I have no regrets having picked him up.