Transformers Kre-O: Optimus Prime by Hasbro, Part 2

And we’re back for the second half of a Kre-O Optimus Prime feature that is rapidly wearing on my patience. I say “second half” but this is going to go a lot quicker than yesterday. Having built Prime into his truck and trailer mode and shooting some pictures, last night I poured myself a generous glass of Jameson and set about to pulling him apart. I took the time to separate the parts by color, poured another glass, and dove in to rebuilding him as robot and battlestation. Having the parts separated was a huge help and overall this build went smoother and faster, but there were a lot more parts left over, so that might explain why. With a little perseverance, and two more glasses of Jamie, I was able to wrap up the build before turning in for the night. It would have been helpful to use the box as a tray for the parts, but after two days the cat has still not relinquished it.

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Ok, so let’s start with Prime’s robot mode.

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I like it a lot! I do wish I still had my Kre-O Bumblebee built so that I could compare the two in size, but after two days of wrestling with Kre-O, I would rather scrape my tongue with a cheese grater than build another one. So, sorry, but no comparison pictures. Prime strikes me as being about the same size, but a little less beefy and less complex. There are some really cool design features to him, like the way his chest is constructed, his smokestack backpack is neat, and oddly enough I really dig the construction of his feet. He’s very well proportioned and the head sculpt is particularly nice and a lot more evocative of G1 Prime than the Bayformer version. Only six of his wheels actually transfer to his robot mode, this may bother some people, but I’m ok with it. Still, he does look a tad skimpy in the arms and legs. Not bad, mind you, just like he could have used a little extra oomf.

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Prime features ball joints in the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and ankles, and his fists rotate. He has pretty good poseability and he holds together fairly well while I’m fiddling about with him. I know some people complain Kre-O doesn’t hold together, but that hasn’t been my experience.

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The other part of this build is the “battlestation” which is really more of a little base for the human Kreons to hang out and do maintenance on their motorcycles. There aren’t any guns or anything else to suggest it is a station for battle. Keep in mind, I tried to use as many parts as I could to build this, so mine’s a bit of an enhanced custom job over the suggested model. It’s not bad for what it is. You get a control center, a maintenance area with a rack for the tools. I added a place for them to keep their helmets, and both bikes can fit in the base. You also get a pair of barricades. The whole ensemble sort of looks like something that Prime’s trailer can transform into. I’m vaguely reminded of other trailer base modes. I’m fairly certain, the base is built only from parts using the trailer, but since I already pulled everything apart, I won’t swear on that.

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And that’s Kre-O Optimus Prime. He’s a cool set, but he definitely taxed my enthusiasm for building these things. All the modes are fairly well designed, and everything fit together pretty well, but building it still made me appreciate Lego all the more. Even the most complex Lego sets are still fun to build, because they’re carefully thought out with that purpose in mind. This Kre-O set felt like it was working against me and at times it plunged below my tolerances. It was originally around $60, which isn’t too bad considering all the parts and the play potential, but I picked up mine a while back on clearance for about $25, which is certainly a more appetizing price. Now, he’ll stand on a shelf for a couple of days before I can get the nerve up to break him down again and file him away with my other Kre-O, Lego, and Megabloks sets. I do know, that unless I can find some of the GI JOE sets, I’m going to be done with Kre-O for a while.

Transformers Kre-O: Optimus Prime by Hasbro, Part 1

I’ve had this beauty sitting in my closet for months waiting for the right time to build it, well I was on vacation last week and it seemed like a good time. While I have been more or less impressed with the three or four Transformers Kre-O kits that I have built, Prime here was the last one that I plan to pick up. The direction the new stuff has taken doesn’t interest me as much and I just think my brick-monies are better spent if I kept channeling them into Lego. Anyway, this thing is a beast of a set and, like all Kre-O Transformers, it needs to be built twice, so I’m doing this guy in two parts because considering the amount of time I had to spend on him, I’m damn well going to get two features out of him. Today I’ll kick it off with the packaging, Kreons, and the vehicle mode, and tomorrow I’ll be back to check out the robot and the battle station!

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Holy hell, this box is HUGE. I guess that’s to be expected since I’m pretty sure this set is the largest Transformers Kre-O kit to date. Prime comes in the same briefcase style case that is designed to close up and store the pieces. The front shows off an illustration of the toy, while the back shows actual pictures of what you’re building. Keep in mind, if you want to put the stickers on as they are in the picture, you won’t be able to take the cab apart. Also, I’m not sure how their “3-in-1” math works out. You can build it as a vehicle or as the robot and battlestation. That’s more like “2-in1” in my book. Anyway, I’ve kept the boxes for all my other Kre-O sets, but I doubt I’ll keep this one. It’s been leaning up against the wall in one of my toy closets for a while now and I’m kind of anxious to get rid of it. Besides, once I break this set down again and put the pieces into baggies, it’ll take up a lot less space.

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On second thought, I may have to keep it, as the cat has adopted it as his new bed… right in the middle of my attempt to build it. Here’s another illustration of why cats and Lego (or even imitation Lego) don’t mix. He may have thought he was helping because he did actually chew some of the parts off their sprues.

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Inside the box (cat not included) you get two large color instruction books and like a thousand baggies of bricks. Ok, it’s probably not a thousand bags. It’s probably more like six or seven bags. They weren’t numbered so I can’t be sure. And therein is the true fun or torture of this set. Since the bags aren’t numbered, or even grouped in any special way, you have to dump them all together and that leads to a ton of sorting and searching and hunting. I actually kind of enjoyed the added challenge on the 200-300 piece sets, but Optimus is nearly 550 pieces and to be honest, it got to be a real pain in the ass after a while. The color coding in the instructions is also a bitch. It’s tough to tell what’s supposed to be black, grey, dark grey, or metallic grey, and since a lot of times you’re dealing with the same piece in multiple colors, you need to just go with your gut and hope for the best. There were times when I realized I probably used a dark grey 2×2 when I was supposed to use a light grey 2×2, because that’s all I had left. Most of the time it doesn’t matter, but it’s worth pointing out that building this was more challenging than any Lego set I’ve ever done. The recommended age group is 8 to 14, which I believe actually means that if an 8 year old starts it, he can be expected to finish it by the time he hits 14. Anyway, when you’re all done with the first build, you get five Kreons, two motorcycles, and Prime’s cab and trailer. Let’s start with the Kreons…

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The set includes three Transformer Kreons and two human Kreons. The Transformers are the ones I really care about. They’re the original kind that are just cute little collectible figures and cannot transform. I adore these stupid little things and I think they lost a lot of their charm when Hasbro started making them with crappy alt modes. The set has Optimus Prime, Smokescreen, and Skywarp. It’s an eclectic mix, but I love them all. They’re all excellent, but I think Skywarp is my favorite. I like the way they did the wings and the doors on him and Smokescreen. Prime also has little clip-on smokestacks on his arms. All three of these little guys are excellent.

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The humans are the same Kreon with their colors changed around. You get motorcycle helmets and hats for each, so they can be used to work in the battle station or drive the motorcycles. They’re ok. I’ll confess while I’m not a big fan of the human Kreon styles, it is nice to have some human figures in scale with the robots. The motorcycles are kind of shitty. They’re each made up of two ill-fitting halves with wheels popped on. I guess they’re ok for what they are, but I don’t have much use for them.

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Generally, I find the vehicle modes of the past Kre-O sets I built to be a bit wanting. Prime’s cab, on the other hand, is excellent and took me the bulk of the time to build. It’s very involved and the end result is well worth the effort. The instructions get rather silly with the placement of Autobot stickers, suggesting that I put two on the hood and three on the roof. I opted for just one on the roof. For a Lego-style vehicle, I think this thing looks great.

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The doors open and there’s room for one Kreon to sit at the wheel and yes, if you’re feeling wacky you can actually have Prime drive himself. The back portion of the cab can pull off to reveal a little workstation for the Kreons. I actually thought this would be part of the battlestation, so I didn’t shoot any pictures and then found that I had to cannibalize it for the second build. Oops!

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The trailer is scaled just a little shorter than I would have liked, but it still looks really nice when hitched up to the cab. It holds together pretty well for what is basically a shell. The Autobot symbols and striping on the sides are printed on, which is a welcome treat since the Kre-O stickers don’t stay on for shit. The back door can drop down to form a ramp and you can put both motorcycles inside. You can also break it apart at the top and swing both halves apart to give you access inside. There’s not much going on in there and it seems like Hasbro could have delivered a little more, but it’s cool nonetheless. I’m tempted to cannibalize my Lego City Police Mobile Crime Lab for parts and load this thing out with equipment.

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So far, this Kre-O Prime doesn’t disappoint. Yes, the build got on my nerves, and I definitely recommend doing a proper color-coded sort of the parts before tackling his build. It won’t eradicate all the frustration, because you’ll still spend some time guessing which color part to use next, but it will help. Once built, however, Prime is the best looking Kre-O vehicle I own, and I can’t deny that getting Kreons of Prime, Smokescreen, and Skywarp makes me very happy. Tomorrow, we’ll tear this bastard down and start all over again with his robot mode and his battlestation!

World of Warcraft: Barrens Chase by Mega Bloks

And it’s time for more World of Warcraft from our good friends at Mega Bloks. I manage to finally kick my habit of playing the game (for the third time) and now I keep getting dragged back to WoW via the building sets. Like the last set, this one was a Christmas present and also like the last set, I was very happy to get it because while I had decided to stop investing money in them, I apparently have no problem with getting them for free.

There’s the box, and I have to say I still really dig seeing the WoW logo and motif in the toy aisle. I wish someone would give the franchise a proper line of action figures like Halo gets, but at least it’s cool to see WoW represented in the toy aisle in any fashion. Once again, I take issue with the fact that Mega Bloks uses CG models rather than actual photos of the toys, but as we’ll see in the case of this set there aren’t any real discrepancies to complain about.

Dump out the contents of the box and you get a large instruction booklet, a bunch of unnumbered baggies of pieces, the mystery loot baggie, and a trial card for the game that lets you play up to level 20 for free. Oh yes, friends, like any good dealer knows, the first taste is always free. Altogether, you get 128 pieces, which is only 22 pieces less than the more expensive set we looked at last time. The difference is this set is made up of mostly tiny pieces and that’s not a bad thing, because building this one felt more like a Lego build and less like I was just assembling some toys. The 128 pieces comprise two minifigures, a couple of battle standards, a Horde X-53 rocket and an Alliance mount. As usual, let’s start with the minifigs.


The minifigures come completely assembled. All you need to do is plug the weapon clip into their backs. This set comes with Tanavar, a Night Elf Warrior (Alliance) and Dragath, an Orc Warlock (Horde). I’ve made no bones about the fact that the minifgures are my favorite thing about this line and that continues to be the case here. The Tanavar and Dragath figures perfectly capture their races and character classes from the game and I’m always happy to add a couple more players to my display shelf instance. Tanavar comes with a translucent purple sword and Dragath comes with a large and very cool staff. As always each figure’s armor is interchangeable with any other figures in the collection. I still haven’t gotten around to playing around with this feature, but it sure is cool.


The Nightsaber mount is a very simple build. All you do is attach the legs, the head, the tail, the reins and the saddle. The finished beast is very cool looking and features some very impressive sculpting, particularly on the head. The angular nature of the sculpt replicates the polygon stylings of the game really well and the coloring on the figure is spectacular. The saddle fits the figures very well and they can actually grip the reins too. Each of the legs is ball jointed at the body, which gives a decent amount of articulation for such a little guy. He’s certainly won me over for Mega Bloks’ mounts and I’m rather anxious to get some of the flying mounts now. Well, played Mr. Bloks… Well played.


The X-53 rocket represents the bulk of this set’s build, and as mentioned already it feels more like an actual Lego build than any of the previous Mega Bloks sets I’ve put together. The bricks are without any of the annoying color issues that I’ve seen in previous sets, and the build is very well designed and the finished rocket holds together solid. The nose art is cool, there are some adjustable exhaust pipes, and the back engine of the rocket can spin with the flick of a finger. Admittedly, the figures look a little awkward sitting on this thing, the windshield is undersized, and there are no controls to speak of, but I still dig it a lot. Maybe the thought of an Orc flying something that looks like it was cobbled together by Wile E. Coyote just tickles me.

In the end, I love everything about this set. The figures are awesome, the mount and rocket are both very cool, and while the Nightsaber mount was a very simple assembly, the overall set was still a genuinely fun and satisfying build. I’m always a sucker for sets that give you everything you need for a self-contained battle and that’s exactly what you get here: A couple of foes and their rides to chase each other around The Barrens or Thousand Needles or wherever. It seems like the set goes for around $24.99 at most retailers and that seems like a fine deal to me. In fact, this set is so good, it’s restored my confidence in the line. I’m going to grab a few more of the smaller sets and if I like what I get, I just may convince myself to pick up that Horde Zeppelin that I want so badly.

I actually have one more Christmas present to look at, but I’m going to come back to it on Saturday so that tomorrow I can get to TFC’s first Project Uranos figure, F-4 Phantom, before the second Project Uranos figure arrives at my door next week.

World of Warcraft: Sindragosa and The Lich King by Mega Bloks

I have returned from my Odin Sleep, it’s back to business as usual here on FigureFan and I’ve got some Christmas presents to look at this week! The last time I featured one of Mega Bloks’ WoW sets, I wasn’t terribly impressed and I decided that I was going to back away from these for a little while. Nonetheless, I got a couple for Christmas and I was surprised at how excited I was when I saw this one: The Sindragosa and Lich King set. Obviously this set has some serious gravitas in WoW lore so I thought it would be cool to have these big baddies in my collection. How’d they turn out? Can this set wash out the bad taste of the last one? Well, let’s see!

The box is pretty glorious and it’s absolutely huge. A Lego set in a box this big would run you around $150 and have a zillion pieces. This one only has 150 pieces, but as we’ll see in a bit, some of them are pretty damn big. The artwork on the front of the box is gorgeous with really nice colors. The box alone has tempted me to pick it up in the store and gawk at it more than a few times. The artwork is also slightly embossed on the front, which is a cool little touch but one which hardly anyone is likely to care about. The back of the box shows you the completed set, but instead of showing you actual photos, you get CG models. That’s hokey, Mega Bloks. It feels like you’re trying to hide something. Why won’t you show the actual product? Well, hang on kiddies, we’ll see why they don’t do that before this feature is over.

Open the box, spill out the contents, and you get a large, but thin, instruction booklet, a small mystery bag containing your random piece of loot, six un-numbered baggies, and a lone, loose brick that looks like it was either thrown in there by mistake, or Mega Bloks suddenly realized they left it out and tossed it in before the box was sealed. I guess we’ll find out which! (Hint: It was thrown in there by mistake!) All told, the 150 pieces make up the dragon Sindragosa and The Lich King and his Frozen Throne. Cool! Let’s start with The Lich King.


The Lich King comes fully assembled with his sword in his own bag. I can understand why Mega Bloks has the individual minifigures pre-assembled, because they wanted to go with a window box package, but I think including the figure assembled in a set like this is a mistake. I buy these things because I like to build them and when you take away from the build time, I tend to feel a little cheated. Nonetheless, Lich King is a great figure with tons of sculpted detail on his gorgeous armor. It really is stunning how much work went into this little guy. He has a removable cape, so you can plug in the weapon clip and have him store his sword, Frostmourne, on his back. The sword is an exceptionally cool piece. It’s so detailed it even has the runes sculpted and painted on the blade. I’ve been blown away by every WoW minifigure that I have, and The Lich King continues to hold that standard if not raise the bar a little higher.

The Frozen Throne makes up a big part of this set’s assembly. It consists of a large white base with translucent blue bricks used to make the ice throne and some of the other ice formations. The build itself is well designed and it even includes a piece to hold Frostmourne while The Lich King is on his throne. The problem here, however, links in to the reason why Mega Bloks won’t show the actual set on the box. Some of the ice bricks are painted with white and blue paint to give them a frosted look, but in truth it just looks like crap. The paint is slathered on some, drizzled on others, while some bricks have none at all. I suppose if you carefully sorted them all out you could get something that looked fairly consistent throughout the build, but it would be pointless since the actual brushwork just looks like someone tried out a shitty custom paint job. It was a terrible idea, as I think the set would have looked just fine without the paintwork at all. In fact, it would have looked a lot like the CG image on the back of the package!

Moving on to Sindragosa… I should forewarn that I am not usually a fan of beasts in the Lego and Mega Bloks lines because they turn out looking too mechanical. It’s just the nature of the build and I try not to hold it against the designers. In the case of Sindragosa, the design of the finished build looks pretty good and makes for a solid, well-articulated, and overall fun toy. He has ball joints in his legs, neck, tail and the base of his wings, so you can get good poses out of him, and he’s big enough to pick up a minifgure in his hinged jaw. The bulk of the bricks used for this build are brown and blue, which is all well and good, but it still makes use of some of the badly painted ice bricks, which is very unfortunate. Again, you can try to pick some of the better looking ones for his back, but I just resent having to do that.


I think my biggest problem with Sindragosa is that too many of his pieces are complete right out of the box. If this were a Lego set, his wings would have probably been made out of 50 pieces each. Here they just come right out of the baggie as two large molded pieces. On the other hand, a lot of the pieces that go into the dragon are just stacked bricks used to make up his belly. You can barely see these, and they’re completely unnecessary for the build. Seriously, you can completely leave them out and it will barely even be noticeable!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot my loot. It’s a pair of shoulders. I like this idea of mystery loot, but there’s nothing special about these pieces and I can’t imagine ever swapping these out onto any of my figures. I guess I’ll just have to put them up on the Auction House when I get back to port back to Ogrimmar.

This set was a gift, so value isn’t really a concern for me. Nonetheless, it looks like the set sells for around $35 at Walmart. That’s a pretty good deal for the number of pieces and the complexity of the build. In the end, I think the Lich King figure is absolutely fantastic and Sindragosa is certainly cool enough, but I’m really soured on the whole crappy paint job on the ice bricks. It’s completely unnecessary and only serves to ruin a major part of the set for me.

I’m taking Sunday off… I know, I just had a week off, but I’m going to be taking Sundays off for good from now on. I’ll be back on Monday and Tuesday to check out last month’s Club Infinite Earth offerings and then I’ll swing back and take a look at the other Mega Bloks set that I got for Christmas. Then Thursday and Friday I start my treacherous journey down the dark path of third-party Transformers.

World of Warcraft: Goblin Trike by Mega Bloks

A few months ago, I dedicated myself to spending more time at home and less time getting loaded at the local Pub. Sure, I’m usually still getting loaded, but now I do it at home with FigureFeline, and it costs a lot less. Of course, I needed something else to do. With my Xbox still on the repair heap and my PS3 little more than a glorified Blu-Ray player, I decided to venture back online to World of Warcraft. It seemed like a good idea and it gave me time to get my characters ready for the new expansion. I dove in with both feet and started playing like a crack addict all over again. Well, after Mists of Pandera launched, it held my interest for only a very short while. In fact, it’s been weeks since I’ve been back. I don’t know if that’s a statement about the quality of the expansion or just my shifting interests. Either way, it’s a good story that gives me a nice segue into today’s feature… another WoW building set from Mega Bloks.

 


This one is the Goblin Trike. I think it’s cool that Mega Bloks is doing a lot of the steam punk shit from the game because these designs seem to work better as building sets than the beasts. It comes in a standard box, about which I have two issues. First, there isn’t an actual photo of the toy anywhere on the box. The best we get is a CG model on the back. Second, the size of the box is seriously misleading based on what you get. The box is absolutely huge, and what’s in there only takes up about one-sixth of the space. Sure, having built my share of these sorts of sets I can gauge the size based on the number of pieces printed on the box, but it’s still damn prejudiced against the ill-informed. Anyway, dump out the contents and you three baggies with a total of 65 pieces, plus the color instruction booklet.


Let’s start off with the figure, Pitz the Goblin Warrior. I’ve been really impressed with Mega Bloks’ WoW minifigs and Pitz here is no exception. The head sculpt perfectly captures the cartoony and distinctive design of the race in the game. He has the same system of interchangeable chest and shoulder armor as the other minifigs, and might I say, they look gorgeous. The amount of sculpted detail and paintwork on the tiny little armor pieces is downright impressive, right down to the textures on the shoulders and the teeny little gilded spikes on his wrist cuffs. This is some seriously nice work! Pitz comes with a red warhammer, which can clip to his back for storage. Everything about this little guy is a win.

 

Moving on to the trike, it’s a pretty cool build, made up primarily of two large pieces, one is the sculpted wood-grain body and the other is the grey frame. That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of other tiny pieces that make up the rest of the build. In the end, you get a nice little three wheeled steam punk cruiser, complete with crazy exhaust pipes sticking out of the back and a cool little clip to hold Pitz’s Warhammer. There’s an extra post that can be used to secure Pitz to the seat via the socket in his back. He fits on it well and looks good riding it.

With all that having been said, there are some serious QC issues with these bricks. Several of them have weird and ugly swirly patterns in the plastic. It’s like when you go to Dunkin Donuts and get a muffin, but the muffin you get has a vein of some other muffin running through it because the batters got mixed up at the Muffin Factory. And you get a sudden mouthful of some nasty other muffin flavor that you didn’t want. It’s just like that. No? Just me? Fair enough. Thankfully the color flubs are mostly part of the brown wood-grain bricks, so I guess you can pass them off as just weathering. But still, how hard is it to stamp out a bunch of bricks in a specific color? I’ll also note here that the rear axil likes to fall off a lot. I’m all too aware of the fact that Mega Bloks is not Lego, but even so I expect better production values than this crap.


Speaking of color, there’s something about the color schemes on this set that I’m not crazy about. The greys and browns and blacks are all standard enough, but the bare red plastic looks a little cheap and that yellowish-orange color is strangely off-putting to me. Not to mention there’s a fair amount of paint slop around the spokes and the tires. There’s certainly a disconnect between the excellent coloring and paintwork on the minifig and the trike model itself.

In the end, this set is ok. It’s nothing great, and QC issues aside, it’s not awful. I absolutely love the figure, but then $25 is a lot to pay for a little minifig, so the trike has to factor in there somewhere. Everything about the trike model screams the differences between how dodgy Mega Bloks can be versus the peerless quality of Lego. And how about value? $25 for a 65 piece set with questionable QC versus, oh let’s say Lego’s Marvel Super Hero’s Loki’s Cosmic Cube Escape, which contained 181 pieces, including three minifigs, and only cost $20. Yeah, no contest there!

Between my apathy toward the new expansion of the game and my general “meh” feeling about this set, I think I’m going to give Mega Bloks’ WoW series a bit of a rest for now. I’ve got a couple more sets sitting around here waiting to be built, so I’ll get to those eventually. I’m not completely giving up on it, but part of me just wishes that Mega Bloks would focus on producing the minifigs, because they truly are the shining point of this line. Besides, strictly from a dollar perspective, the money is way better spent on actual Lego.

World of Warcraft: Blood Elf Priest (Valoren) & Orc Warrior (Ragerock) by Mega Bloks

Yes, it’s World of Warcraft season again. Time for a new expansion, time for me to dust off my level 85 character, time for me to say, “Oh shit, I need to get my mining up another 30 points before I embark for Pandaria.” In honor of the new expansion pack, I thought I’d finally get around to looking at the other two of Mega Bloks’ WoW Faction Packs, which I picked up a quite a few weeks back. Last time, we checked out one of the Alliance minifigs, and today we’re going to see how the Horde makes out with two of their Faction Packs. This should be good, because everyone knows the Horde is awesome and the Alliance is a bunch of pussies.

Here we’ve got the Blood Elf Priest, Valoren, and the Orc Warrior, Ragerock. I’ve never rolled an Orc, but I’m pretty partial to the Blood Elves, as three of my four high level characters are of that racial persuasion. Of course all of those are chicks. Why? Because if I’m going to stare at a character’s ass for a hundred hours while playing a game, you can bet your life it’s not going to be a dude. Let’s look at the toys…

Again, the packages are pretty cool, and I love seeing the WoW logo in the toy aisles. The sets come in little window boxes that are designed to hang on a peg or sit on a shelf. The window shows off the figure, his weapon, and his faction symbol, while the instructions and the baggie of parts to build the base are concealed within. The back shows the completed set and has some info on the character and class. These are some pretty intricate and attractive packages for a couple of little 29 piece sets. Plus, I’m happy not to have to deal with any of that blind bag bullshit that Mega Bloks did with Halo.

Let’s look at Ragerock first, since the Orc Warrior is pretty iconic for WoW. Mega Bloks nailed the head sculpt pretty well, and I like the overall build of the character, which is cartoony, but not too cartoony. He’s not as elaborate as the Paladin we looked at last time, but he does have some nice shoulder armor and a belt that crisscrosses his chest. I also dig the little sculpted chains that hold on his knee plates. There’s lots of love in the little details here. The coloring is all good too with the skin a pleasing green, two tone brown for his pants and gear, and a little red and silver for his shoulder armor to break up the rest of the colors. Ragerock comes with a big purple sword, which you can clip to his back. As always, you can swap out armor with the other figures to customize him as you so desire.

Ragerock’s stand is a simple little build, but very evocative of Ogrimmar. You get a brown base, some heavy masonry type blocks to build a little corner of wall, a spot to hold his Horde banner and some stubby horns, and a flag. Nicely done!

Moving on to Valoren, the Blood Elf Priest is looking very dapper in his majestic priestly robes. They’re mostly black with some very nicely sculpted ornate scrollwork. Actually, the scrollwork is really impressive for such a tiny figure. The trim and the scrollwork are painted yellow and you get some red trim to tie the whole ensemble together. Tres Chic! The headsculpt is pale with long white hair, and piercing green eyes. As with Ragerock, the overall look of this little figure wonderfully evokes the art design from the game. Valoren comes with a spear, which can also be clipped to his back.

Valoren’s stand is even simpler to build than Ragerock’s, as several of the pieces just go into building the little column. It’s still a nice display stand, though, and very reminiscent of the architecture of Silvermoon City. Maybe the stand could have been green, as I tend to think of a lot of grass in that area, but it still looks fine as it is.

Each of these sets contains 29 pieces, so they’re obviously pretty easy builds and the figures themselves are built and ready to go right out of the box. They ran me $6.88 each at Walmart, which is not at all bad considering that a lot more sculpting and paintwork goes into them as opposed to a Lego minifig and they display really well on their little stands. At some point I need to pick up the last of these Faction Packs, which appears to be some kind of Night Elf. But next time we revisit Mega Blok’s World of Warcraft series, we’ll be checking out one of the slightly more substantial building sets.

World of Warcraft: Human Paladin Colton (Faction Pack) by Mega Bloks

I haven’t looked at any of the toys or statues based on Blizzards ridiculously successful MMORPG game, World of Warcraft. And while I have looked at my share of Lego and even some Not-Lego (Character Building and Kre-O), I have only really looked at a few of Mega Bloks’ blind bagged minifigures, and not any of the actual sets. Well, for the last two or three weeks, I’ve been falling back into the dark, evil addiction of WoW, as I try to learn all the ins and outs of the new Patch before the new Expansion drops in on the 25th. It seemed like a good time to start checking out some of what Mega Bloks has done with the WoW license.

I’m starting off small, with some of their so-called “Faction Packs.” These are little boxed sets that contain a minifigure and a couple of dozen bricks that let you build a little display base. It’s a really cool idea that gives you something a bit more substantial than the blind bagged minifig format. I really dig the packaging, which consists of a little window box that shows the figure. The back panel shows the figure and base in detail along with some of the other available Faction Packs. Inside the box, the figure (which comes completely assembled), his weapon, and his faction symbol are all nested in a tray and the baggie of pieces for the base is concealed above. You also get an instruction sheet. The whole thing is wonderfully collector friendly, providing you don’t mind taking the base apart to store it.

 

The minifig in this set is Colton and he’s a Human Paladin, which makes him one of the hated Alliance *ptoowey* I spit on the Alliance, as in the game I only roll Horde. That having been said, Colton here is a pretty cool little guy with a design that really matches the game pretty well. His face is pretty generic, but the armor is very nicely sculpted for such a small figure and the shoulders and torso armor can all be removed and swapped out with other sets to customize. His five points of articulation consist of ball joints in the neck, shoulders, and hips, which is not at all bad for a minifig. He comes with a double-bladed axe.

The base consists of a fairly large platform and a number of bricks that look like… well, stone bricks. These make up a little corner of castle wall. You also get two long torches, and the aforementioned faction symbol. It only takes a couple of minutes to put this thing together, but it makes for a very nice way to display the figure. On the downside, it doesn’t hold together as well as Lego, so moving it requires a bit of care.

Of course, the other cool thing here is that Mega Bloks is compatible with Lego sets and that means I can slap the faction symbol on one of my Kingdoms sets for Colton to hang out in.

The whole set includes 28 pieces, which compares pretty closely to Lego’s impulse sized sets. I picked up this set at Walmart for about $6.88. It seemed a tad high at the time for just a minifigure, but when I saw how big the base was, I was a little happier. It seems like Mega Bloks only has four of these Faction Packs out right  now, and I’ve already grabbed two more, so we’ll be checking them out in the near future.

Kre-O Transformers: Autobot Ratchet by Hasbro

Among some of the stuff piling up this last month are some of Hasbro’s “Not-Lego” Kre-O sets. I had this last weekend off, so I took the time to build a couple more and today we’re going to check out one of those… it’s everybody’s favorite Autobot Medic, Ratchet.

As always, the set comes in a nifty cardboard briefcase that you can use for convenient storage. I really like the concept, especially since the Kre-O sets usually have extra pieces left over, depending on whether or not you’re building the robot or the alt form. I can usually fit the built robot into the box by only taking a few pieces off, and I can store the sets in their original boxes on one of my book shelves. Inside the box you get an instruction booklet, a sticker sheet, two individually bagged Kreons, and three un-numbered bags of parts. The set includes a total of 187 pieces; making this one the smallest Kre-O set I’ve built. Let’s go ahead and look at the Kreons first.

Ok, so I’m not terribly impressed with these guys. You get an ambulance driver and you get Ratchet. The ambulance driver is ok for what he is, and gives you someone to sit in Ratchet while he’s in ambulance mode. He also comes with a stretcher that fits in the back of Ratchet. Ratchet, on the other hand, is pretty flawed, since his helmet and the printed face on his head don’t line up very well. If you put the helmet on so that you can see his face, it pops off really easy. If you put the helmet on all the way, it covers his eyes. Ratchet also comes with a tiny gun.

As always, I built the alt mode first. Ratchet is a pretty decent looking ambulance for a Lego style construct of this size. The build is comprised mostly of red and white bricks and there are some well thought out stickers to help it along. It’s not terribly large, with room in the cab for only one Kreon. There’s no steering wheel or dashboard inside, and there are no doors on the sides either, so you need to take the roof off to get him in there. There are, however, working doors on the back of the ambulance, and there’s room inside for the stretcher. Ratchet also has clips on the sides and back to hold the bevy of tools that come in the set. If you compare this build to a Lego vehicle that you might get in a $20 set, it stacks up pretty well, and overall it was a fun little build. There are a bunch of parts left over for the robot build. I can usually find someplace to stick these, but in Ratchet’s case, I just tossed them all into the back of the ambulance.

While I do enjoy getting two builds out of each of these Kre-O sets, I really hate tearing them apart. It’s also a pain to keep track of the bricks with stickers on them, as you need to use them at specific points of the robot build to make him look right. This time, I had the foresight to set them aside, rather than have to root through all the pieces to find the one I need.

In robot mode, Ratchet is a cool enough looking guy. He’s kind of on the lanky side, which sets him apart from the G1 Ratchet design that I identify with the most. His windshield and front bumper are positioned on his chest, but it looks like he needs a little more oompf in his torso to make the proportions work. He’s mostly arms and legs and his head is a tad too small. On the other hand, he’s a nice clean looking design, I like the way his wheels are positioned on his legs and shoulders and the front wheel wells are on his feet. Once again, you wind up with some left over pieces, most of which I was able to attach to the figure and still make it look good.

Ratchet features good articulation, with ball joints for his head, shoulders, hips, and ankles, and hinges for his elbows and knees. He also feels a lot more stable than my Sideswipe, and he can hold his poses better without flopping over or doing the splits.

I have no idea how much this set went for when it was originally released. I seem to remember getting this one on special for around $12, which is quite a steal considering you get close to 200 pieces. I know that Kre-O gets a bad rap by Lego purists as being inferior and all that, but I don’t have a lot of issues with these sets, and I certainly build my share of Lego. The quality has been overall good, the designs are solid and the builds are plenty of fun. Ratchet is probably my least favorite of the sets I own, but he’s still not a bad set by any means. I just wish his Kreon was a little better.

Kre-O Transformers: Sideswipe by Hasbro

Oh look, its more Kre-O!! I can’t get enough of these sets. This time around its Sideswipe, another Autobot and another Sportscar to boot. I was really curious to see whether this one is designed differently than Bumbebee and I was happy to see that Sideswipe’s car and robot mode are significantly unique from his Autobot brother. Unlike Megatron and Bumblebee, I’m going to do my best to get through this set in just one part…

Kre-O boxes equals awesome. The set comes in the same style of box-slash-carry case we saw with the last two sets. Inside you get an instruction booklet, a sticker sheet, a bunch of unnumbered baggies of bricks, and two bagged Kreon figures. The set includes 220 pieces, which makes it the smallest of all the Kre-O sets I’ve looked at so far, but it still pretty sizeable.

The Kreons include a generic human Driver and Sideswipe. The Driver is a repaint of the one that came with Bumblebee and is basically just someone to sit in the car. Kreon Red Alert is just as adorable as the other Transformer Kreons we’ve seen. He comes with a big gun.
Sideswipe’s sportscar mode is a satisfying build and while in prinicipal its similar to Bumblebee’s there are more than enough differences to make it fun and unique. Its a little smaller than Bumblebee, but not as much as you might think considering this set has about a hundred less pieces. Overall I think this car mode looks better than Bumblebees, but the boxy slab of a roof is still a sticking point for me. Once again, you can leave the roof off and Sideswipe looks much better as a convertible. In retrospect, I should have left the door stickers off, as I think they look like crap, but I can always peel them off if they bother me too much. For some reason, Sideswipe only has a drivers seat, which is odd since there is plenty of room for a passenger seat, it just isn’t part of the build. The only thing I’m not too keen on with the car mode is the grey wheel well pieces. I really wish these parts were painted red.
And then there’s the robot mode and it is pretty sweet. He’s cetainly very distinct from Bumblebee and surprisingly enough the build for his arms and legs are particularly complex. I wasn’t sure about the zig-zag configuration on his legs, but they work really well in person and I really dig the hinged armor on his forearms. About my only complaint here is that his head should have been black instead of red. As it is, its giving me more of a Red Alert vibe than Sideswipe. He stands just a bit shorter than Bumblebee, but for a 220 piece set he’s plenty big. Once again there were a number of pieces left off of his robot mode so I tried to find some places to stick them. I like the way his windshield pieces look behind his head. I was a little disappointed that Hasbro didn’t throw in a missile for his gun, it doesn’t seem like it would have broken the bank and it would have helped the gun look more convincing.
As an action figure, Sideswipe is really solid and features a great level of articulation. You get ball joints in the head, shoulders, elbows, and hips. The knees are hinged, and the wrists swivel. As always with these sets, you get some bits falling off as you play around with him, but he’s still fun to pose.
I believe the suggested retail on Sideswipe is about $20. I got my set for sixteen and change. Once again, I’ll point out that you couldn’t touch a Lego set with this number of pieces at the same price, once again proving these Kre-O’s are an awesome value. Seriously, 220 pieces, two toys to build and two minifigs all for under $20. You can’t beat that, folks! In the end, I like Sideswipe’s car mode better than Bumblebees, and while his robot mode is still excellent, Bumblebee is still my favorite.

[Just a heads up, I’ll be taking tomorrow off. Its been a crazy couple of weeks at work and trying to juggle that and keeping up with Figurefan and my excessive drinking other lifestyle commitments has really tuckered me out. I’ll be back on Thursday with some more goodies. -FF]