Kre-O Transformers: Bumblebee by Hasbro, Part 1

As promised, I’m back with more Kre-O! Yes, I was so impressed with the Megatron set, I ordered a couple more and Bumblebee came in yesterday. Was Megatron a one-shot wonder? Are all Kre-O sets as cool as him? Let’s find out as we check out the Autobots spunky little scout-slash-warrior, Bumblebee.

There’s the box and once again, Lego, take notes. It easily opens up like a briefcase giving you a great place to store the pieces and a nice makeshift tray to try to keep control over all the tiny pieces. Inside the box you get an instruction booklet, a sticker sheet, and a bunch of baggies containing a total of 335 bricks. You also get three Kreon minifigs, each individually bagged. Once again the baggies aren’t numbered so you need to spill all those bitches into the box to begin your build. Here’s something a little different, you get a plastic parts tree with all sorts of weapons and equipment for the Kreons. Interesting. What are we starting with? The Kreons, of course!
You get three Kreons: Two are adorable little Transformers and one is a generic human driver. At first, I thought he was going to be Spike or Sam, but nope, he’s just called “Driver”. The Transformers are Bumblebee and Red Alert and both little guys capture the G1 Transformer designs pretty well. Bumblebee is my favorite of the two. I love his little G1 horns!
I really need to start timing myself on these builds because I have no idea how long it took me to put together Bumblebee’s sportscar mode. It was definitely more than an hour, but some of that time was spent trying to keep my goddamn cat out of the parts box. [Pro-Tip: Cats are counter-productive when it comes to Legos and even not-Legos! -FF] And yes, as expected, Bumblebee is a yellow sportscar with some black detailing. He’s not quite a Camero, but definitely closer to the Bayformer alt mode than anything else we’ve seen Bumblebee turn into.
Sadly, I don’t think Bumblebee’s alt mode looks nearly as good as Megatron’s did, but in fairness, the truck cab is more boxy and easier to do with bricks. I’ll also cut it some slack as these Kre-O sets seem to avoid cheating by using a lot of specialized pieces. I think the biggest problem with the way the car mode looks lies with the roof, which would have benefited by using smoother, more rounder pieces, like the hood, rather than just being a slab. On the other hand, its not that bad for a Lego-style car. Its pretty big and very solid and the interior is nicely detailed and can fit two Kreons. I also like the optional missile launcher that can be attached to the top. The fugly roof can also be easily removed to better place the Kreons in the seats, and you can even leave it off altogether to give Bumblebee a cool convertible treatment, which looks quite good. By the way, isn’t it really bizarre that you can have Kreon Bumblebee driving himself? What kind of twisted universe is this?
There were a fair number of pieces left over after the sportscar is built. These are mostly joints and stuff used for the robot mode. I was able to fit nearly all the extra parts on Megsy’s cab mode, but there’s nowhere to put them on Bumblebee here. I did manage to use one of the robot joints for a cool trailer hitch, though.
So all in all, this is set is pretty good. I don’t know that I would recommend it on the sportscar alone, so give me a day to break it down and build the robot mode and we’ll see what happens, mm’kay?

Kre-O Transformers: Megatron by Hasbro, Part 2

Last time, after a brief interlude to gush over Ninja Turtles, we checked out the Megatron Kre-O set in his vehicle mode. It turned out to be a pretty amazing set, so surely Megsy’s robot mode can’t be any good, can it? Well, I’m here to tell you it ain’t too shabby. Let’s have a looksy…

Once again, keep in mind that these sets do not transform. You basically build either the vehicle or the robot and then tear it all apart and build the other. Some may take issue with this approach, but I rather like it a lot. Hasbro’s last experiments with transforming building sets (see Built to Rule… on second thought, don’t) were pretty shitty. Besides, who hasn’t finished building a Lego set and lamented that it was all done? With Kre-O’s it really is like getting two sets in one, and I found building Megatron’s robot mode, just as fun and challenging as building his truck cab mode. The only downside was ripping apart the cab. I’ve built my fair share of Lego sets, but apart from taking a few parts off of the finished toys for storage, I’ve never broken one down completely until I had to do so with this Kre-O set. It was handy to have a razorblade handy to separate some of the more stubborn bricks. It was also handy to have the briefcase style box so that when pieces went flying, they usually wound up trapped in the box and not somewhere under the desk.
And there’s Megatron’s robot mode. First off, he’s huge, measuring in at about ten inches tall. Secondly, I really like the way the designers made him look like he could transform, even though he doesn’t. His obvious truck parts are positioned in a pretty logical manner. I will point out that some of his car parts weren’t included in the building instructions, so rather than leave them off, which felt like a cheat, I incorporated as many of them as I could into the robot, and I think it worked out rather well. There are, however, a few rather conspicuous pieces that I couldn’t find a good place for, like the windshields.
From a design standpoint, Megatron is a somewhat fresh take on the character. He definitely sports some of Dark of the Moon’s characteristics, but at the same time, he has a more G1 feel to me as well. I really like the head sculpt, the way the gas tanks sit on top of his backpack. and the way the front bumper sits on his chest. He also wears the prison from his cab mode as a backpack so he can still carry around prisoners. Megatron features a shoulder mounted missile launcher, with clips on his back to hold the spare missile. The missiles are the pieces used for the exhaust pipes in the truck mode and they flick-fire just like in Lego sets. The only thing I’m really missing here is the lack of some kind of arm cannon. To me, Megs just isn’t Megs without a giant fusion cannon on his right arm. I like to compensate by taking the missile launcher off his shoulder and attaching it to his right arm. I don’t tend to stray far from the instructions when building my Lego sets, but I’ve had a lot of fun tinkering with customizing this Kre-O set.
As an action figure, Megatron is fairly solid, although fiddle about with him enough and bits are bound to fall off. He has excellent articulation, with ball joints in the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and ankles. He also swivels at the wrists and each of his eight fingers are articulated at the base. He stands very well and can hold a lot of poses, although if you give him too wide a stance, his hip joints tend to buckle under the weight and he’ll wind up doing the splits. Still, all in all he’s fun to play around with and he works really well if you want to have him fighting the Earth Defense Forces from Lego’s Alien Conquest series or attacking one of the many buildings from Lego City. I’m actually tempted to start collecting a lot more Lego City sets just to give my Kre-O Transformers a place to fight with collateral damage.
So, let’s talk value. The Megatron set comes with four Kreon minifigs, 310 pieces, and I got him at regular retail price at Walmart for $29.99. To compare, the last Lego set I featured here, UFO Abduction from the Alien Conquest series, was also $29.99 but only had 225 pieces. That makes Megatron a pretty good value considering you’re getting almost 100 more bricks and one extra minifig. And that’s not even considering the fact that this set gives you two toys to build. The quality is just as good as Lego and whle the instructions may frustrate every now and then, it makes for a good challenge. I’m so sold on these Kre-O’s I’ve already ordered two more sets, so expect to see more featured here in the next week or so.

Kre-O Transformers: Megatron by Hasbro, Part 1

I’ve been putting this off for a while. Dipping my toe into the pool of Transformers Kre-O. I’ve been waffling back and forth, but I knew that sooner or later I was going to buy one of these sets and see what they’re all about. Well, yesterday was that day, as I finally picked up the Kre-O version of Megatron. As it turns out building this set was a lot more involved than I had expected, and it is technically two, two, TWO sets in one, so I’ve opted to break down this feature into two parts. Today we’ll check out the packaging and the Kreons and Megatron’s alt mode and tomorrow we’ll see how he looks in robot form. I had some high hopes for these Kre-O toys, for a number of reasons, so let’s see how my first Kre-O adventure turned out…

Oh god, I love this package. It’s a standard looking box, but it has a pop up handle and its simply taped on the sides, so you can open it up like a cardboard briefcase and put everything back inside when you’re done. Cool and functional! Take a look at these boxes, Lego, because its so much nicer to open one of these rather than having to chew through the side of one of your boxes. Inside you get a meaty instruction book, a sheet of stickers, and a bunch of baggies that contain the 310 bricks. Each of the Kreons are individual baggied too. As we do with Lego, let’s start with the minifigs… er, um… Kreons!
So, the Kreons are indeed basically minifigs and they come in two types. You get some humans that can intereact with the Transformers Kre-O toys and you get some that are made to look like little super-deformed versions of G1 Transformers themselves. The Megatron set comes with two of the humans: A specialist and a cop; And two Transformers: Megatron and Shockwave. I absolutely love the Transformer Kreons, especially Megatron as he comes with a huge fusion cannon and an evil smirk. These little guys are just fun and highly collectible. I’m tempted to say Hasbro should be blind-bagging them, but right now I think the strategy is to use them as an incentive to buy the sets. The humans are ok, although I’m not sure what the Specialist is supposed to be all about. Nonetheless it is really cool to have little figures in scale with the Transformers.
Laying aside the Kreons, let’s move on to the pile of bits that will eventually become Megatron. I found building this set to be a lot more challenging than any Lego set I’ve done so far. I think part of the reason is that the instructions aren’t quite as clear as the ones in the Lego sets. There were a few times where I couldn’t quite figure out where the selected bricks were supposed to go until a little bit of time spent studying the picture. Another reason may have been the fact that the majority of this set is comprised of just three different color bricks: Black, grey and light grey, and there’s a fair number of the same bricks in different colors. It also doesn’t help that none of the baggies are numbered as with Lego sets, which means you basically have to dump all 310 pieces together and hunt for each piece in a much larger pile. Good thing you can use the box as a dump for all the pieces. I’m not complaining, mind you, I actually enjoyed the challenge and the fact that it took me so long to complete.                                    
The instructions first show the build to truck mode and then, starting from scratch again, show the build to robot mode. Yes, unlike those shitty Built To Rule sets Hasbro put out back in the Armada days, these Kre-O sets don’t transform, rather you build each version. It’s a cool idea that gives a lot more build value out of the sets, but it is kind of a bittersweet moment when you finish the first mode and realize its time to tear it apart to build the second.
Megatron’s alt mode is a truck cab similar to the one seen in Dark of the Moon. Typically with Lego sets, I tend to find the final result a lot smaller than I was expecting. That’s certainly not the case with Megatron here. The cab is huge and can seat two minifigs. It rolls along on its six wheels rather well and looks fantastic. Both doors open, the sideview mirrors are hinged, as are the claws on the front of the bumper. Megatron even has a little prison cell in the back of his cab. There are actually a number of left over pieces that are used for the robot and not the cab mode, but I managed to work everything onto my finished cab by getting a little creative, or just putting them on underneath where they won’t show. I think my only complaint here is that Lego vehicles are usually designed so the top can easily come off to seat minifigs inside. Metagron’s cab is so intricate that you really can’t do that and you’re left tucking them in from the side, or just building the cab around whichever Kreon you want in there.

So far, I’m really sold on Kre-O. This was a really fun and challenging build that creates a huge, fun toy, and I’ve only seen and done half of what this set has to offer. I love the fact that you can even put Lego minifigs in the cab, and if I compare it to the Lego City tractor trailer I own, it’s just massive by comparison. Tomorrow I’ll be back to take a look at Megatron’s robot mode. Until then… I’ve got some building to do!

Doctor Who: Character Building TARDIS Mini Set by Character Options

It’s been a little while since I featured any Lego sets here. That hasn’t been an intentional slight on Lego, just a reflection of what’s been available on the shelves. Fortunately, I’ve been able to get a little bit of my Lego fix this month with the first of the Doctor Who themed Lego-compatible building sets by Character Options. While it’s not an official Lego product, it is still basically Doctor Who Lego and that’s about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

The set comes in a little box similar in size to Lego’s own smaller assortment sets in the $10 range. The box is illustrated with the completed version of what you’re getting inside, along with an actual size shot of the Doctor minifig and the Series 5-6 style Doctor Who logo. Open up the box and you spill out two baggies of bricks, two individually bagged minifigs of The 11th Doctor and Amy Pond, an instruction booklet, a sticker sheet, and an illustrated insert that makes up the interior of the TARDIS. As always, let’s start with the minifigs…

Surprisingly, the minifigs come pre-assembled in their baggies, but they can each break down into seven pieces, which is about the same as most of Lego’s minifigs. Also unlike Lego’s minifigs, these feature character specific sculpts, rather than relying more on illustrated generic pieces. Each figure is aggressively cute and The Doctor even comes with a Sonic Screwdriver accessory. Still, these little time travelers look like they have more in common with the popular Imaginext line of figures than Legos, which is cool as it gives them a certain personality all their own.

The TARDIS itself is comprised of 45 pieces, several of which are pretty specific to this model. The front doors are on hinges so that they can open in or out, while the rest of the TARDIS walls are each one sculpted piece. What’s really awesome is the included illustrated insert that makes the TARDIS look like it actually has its interior, something that CO didn’t bother doing with their Classic 5-inch scale TARDIS. Virtually all the details are conveyed via stickers, and CO was generous enough to include extras in case you screw up or one gets damaged.

As I mentioned above, this set is about on par with Lego’s ten dollar sets in terms of size and complexity. It is, however, an import to us Yanks, so chances are you’re going to spend a lot more than the MSRP. I paid a whopping $23 for this set (shipping included), which is obviously a lot more than was intended. It’s a lot to pay for what you get, but considering what it is, I think it was justified. I’m not willing to pay as much for the other two mini sets, but this is the TARDIS afterall, so I was willing to splurge.

Halo: Series 2 Mini Figures by Mega Bloks

It’s bad enough that I’ve resolved to buy more Lego sets next year, but it’s hard for me to walk down the toy aisles without hearing Megabloks’ Halo sets calling to me too. Now, I’m not a big Halo fanatic. I loved the original game and spent a ridiculous amount of time playing it, but I was really put off by Halo 2, so much so that I haven’t been back to the franchise since. Still, these sets seem to capture the vehicles and weapons really well and they look like they’d be a hell of a lot of fun to build. But this week is all about stocking stuffers, so I grabbed a couple of these little Mini Figures to check them out.

Like the Lego Mini Figures, these guys come in little printed cellophane style baggies. They’re blind packed, which means you have no idea what you’re getting until you tear it open and dump it out. I think that prospect is a little less vexing here, since you can build armies of these guys, and it doesn’t matter so much if you get a lot of any particular figure. Unlike the Lego mini-figures, though, the Megabloks guys come assembled and ready for action. Of course, their arms, legs and head are all attached by ball joints so you can feel free to pull them apart. Each figure comes with a black block/stand and a weapon. They also come with a sheet showing you the different figures available and which ones are common, rare, or ultra-rare.

I was really hoping for the green UMSC pilot, but I had no such luck. Instead I wound up with a purple Covenant Brute and a pink Hayabusa Spartan. The Spartan is supposed to be rare (or is that TEH RAREZZZ!!!11?) so good on me, I guess? The Brute is listed as common. I know the Brute from the game, but I have no idea what the Spartan is supposed to be. It is indeed pink and it comes with a katana style sword. The sculpting on these figures is surprisingly good for their size and their paint apps are pretty good.

The articulation is pretty solid for such tiny figures. You get the aforementioned ball joints in the neck, shoulders and hips and you get hinged elbows and knees.

I don’t have much more to say about this pair. For some reason, these don’t seem like as solid a deal as the Lego minifigs, but then we’re only talking fitty cents more, and these are mostly army builders. It’s tough for me to really judge them without having some of the vehicles for them to interact with. Still, not a bad thing to find in one’s stocking and overall I’d say they’re really well done.