Transformers “Power of the Primes:” Moonracer by Hasbro

My quest for finding new Transformers has been hard fought, but it’s finally started to produce some results. Last week I checked out the first of the Terrorcons, Rippernsapper, and today I’m having a look at Autobabe Moonracer. I’ll confess that I’ve wanting figures of Moonracer and her cohorts ever since I first saw The Search for Alpha Trion. I was also disappointed we didn’t get more of her and her companions in the cartoon. Well, here we are decades later and Hasbro has begun to turn up the love for the femmebots. We got Arcee and Chromia a few years back, and now we’re getting Moonracer and Elita-1 in Power of the Primes. Was it worth the wait… Mmmm, maybe?  Oh yeah, apologies in advance for the pictures. I didn’t realize at the time how badly her white parts were going to blend into the white background. I really should have shot her with a gray or black backing, but I didn’t have time to do a complete re-shoot.

Here she is in the package and the character art looks great… but boy is it misleading. If you look closely you can see Moonracer has a rather shapely femmebot profile that somewhat matches her animated look. You can also see that in no way does she have a crippling block of kibble welded to her back. You can, however, kind of see from the packaged figure that isn’t really the case and believe me you ain’t seen nothing yet. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with her alt mode.

Moonracer is a futuristic car and not a bad one. She’s very long and pretty thin and has a pretty sleek styling that is a bit reminscent of a Formula-1 car. There are a number of tinted blue panels on the top, making it hard for me to decide which is the canopy for the driver’s compartment, because none of them open like on the Titans Return figures. I’m guessing it’s the one near the front. Or maybe none of them are, since this is probably supposed to be a Cybertronian vehicle? In addition to those tinted blue pieces, the bulk of the car’s deco consists of teal plastic with some white plastic in the back and some lavender paint hits. I don’t think she has the personality of Arcee’s convertible mode or the sexiness of Chromia’s lightcycle mode, but it’s fine.

I like the front, especially the addition of the yellow paint apps for the headlights. She also has an Autobot insignia printed on her hood. There’s a very obvious socket in the front of the car that hints at her combiner capabilities, but I dig it as just part of the car’s weird design. I will say that she doesn’t roll all that well, as some of the undercarriage hangs pretty close to the ground.

The back is a little hollow and f’ugly and you can see her hands folded up there too. There are some peg holes at the back where you can equip her rifle as a weapon on the car. You can also add her Prime Armor piece back here to fill things out, so let’s see how that looks…

Well it fills out that hollow space a bit, but it also makes her longer, which is something she didn’t need. The only advantage is that you now have two additional ports to arm her with her gun, but I don’t think it’s really worth it. You can also attach the Prime Armor to the front of the car, but I’m not even going to go there. Let’s move on to her robot mode…

From the front, Moonracer isn’t too bad, but she’s still got some issues. For starters, you can see in her mid-section where they sculpted the hourglass shape that they wanted her to have, but behind it you can see that it’s just faked out and she’s got a rather blocky torso. The legs are fine, and they have that nice rounded organic look to them, but she has those two awkward quarter-panel shells from her alt mode just jutting out on each of her lower legs. Hey, at least they help to make her enormous feet look a little smaller. I’m also not a fan of having those windshield pieces on the bottoms of her feet. As for the deco, well the teal and white goes well together and she also has a splash of lavender and a tinted blue cockpit showing in her midsection. I think the coloring is a nice approximation of her animated look from the original cartoon.

Switching to the back and here’s where things fall apart more. There’s really no semblance at all of her femmebot form from the back. Her legs look very kibble-heavy and the backpack looks very boxy. Now, I understand that some will argue there’s no reason for femmebots to be all svelte and curvy and I ain’t trying to body-shame no bots. I am, however, going by their own character art and the character design from the cartoon, so I don’t think I’m out of order bringing these things up. And things only get worse when you view her from the side…

As a rule, I don’t have a problem with my Transformers wearing backpacks. It’s a convenient place to pack away kibble, but this? Yeah, this just isn’t acceptable to me. Poor Moonracer’s backpack is so damn big that she had to be mis-transformed in the package so the figure would fit in the bubble. When I opened her up, I was shocked at this amount of back kibble and then I realized that I still had to fold another piece into it and make it bigger. Surprisingly, she’s not too back-heavy. I’m thinking that those quarter-panels that protrude off the sides of her legs help to counterbalance her a bit.

I do like the head sculpt a lot. The “helmet” has a curved design that matches the Sunbow femmebots and also has a certain flavor from the animated movie designs. The eyes are big and blue, although they do look a little too scared to fit her character. She was kind of the wisecracker and here she just looks worried or surprised about something. Alas, the paint on my figure’s lips is pretty uneven. It looks like they just blotted it on there without much thought. In fairness, you do have to get in pretty close to see it.

And if Moonracer isn’t bulky enough for you, you can always take her Prime Armor piece and attach it to her chest. The less that I say about this gimmick the better.

Moonracer comes with a pretty cool blaster, which we already saw in her alt mode. It features a scope and she can hold it in either hand and I really don’t have much else to say about it. Before wrapping up, let’s do a little side-by-side look with another femmebot…

I couldn’t put my hands on my Chromia in time for this review, but here’s a shot of Generations Arcee with Moonracer. Obviously, Arcee isn’t perfect and she’s got a sizable backpack as well, but I just like the way they dealt with it so much better. It’s completely separate of her body, which still manages to capture the animated femmebot aesthetics. Plus even her backpack features contours and curves, making it feel more like part of the design. Granted, Arcee is a shell-former and Moonracer is a combiner, and that has to add a lot of obstacles to the design, which is all the more reason I wish she wasn’t.

After such a long wait, I want to say that Moonracer is pretty disappointing. But at the same time, I can’t say that I have buyer’s remorse. I’ve wanted a figure of this character for a long time, and I have to sympathize with the challenges that Hasbro had designing a Deluxe Class figure that could match the animated look of the character and still transform and fit their (weird and IMO unnecessary) rule that all Deluxes have to be combiners in this line. Moonracer isn’t a total dud. There are things I dig about her, but when you consider that Hasbro could have redesigned her car mode to look like anything, maybe they could have met in the middle with a better compromise between robot and alt mode. In the end, it’s cool that they made her and I’m happy to have her, but boy am I glad I didn’t wind up paying a premium for her.

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Transformers “Power of the Primes:” Rippersnapper by Hasbro

Holy shit, it’s a new Transformers review! Before jumping in, I want to make mention of how frustrating the Power of the Primes line has been for me. Distribution is never great in my area, but I was still able to pick up maybe half of my Titans Return figures in either the local Walmarts or Targets. And what I couldn’t find local, I was able to get off of Amazon at, or at least pretty close to, MSRP.

PotP has changed all that. The big box stores here either have empty pegs or the pegs are busting with Robots in Disguise figures where PotP should be. Even those newer Bayformer Studio figures are moving in on PotP’s turf. When the Walmart finally restocked, they restocked with two cases of the first wave. Amazon has been no help either because the Deluxe Class figures have been running in the $25-35 range. So, while it’s true I have not been as impressed with PotP as I was with Titans Return, I haven’t been intentionally snubbing this line. Indeed, I was actually thrilled to finally find a couple Deluxes at regular retail, because I still love getting new Transformers. OK, enough of my bitchin’… on with the review of the Terrorcon Rippersnapper!

Just look at that bitchin’ character art! By the time the G1 Terrorcons hit in 1987, I was 15 years old and more obsessed with Star Trek than I was Transformers. I was aware they existed because I was still watching the cartoon, but I never owned any of the Terrorcon figures. As a result, I was super excited to see them coming out as part of the Power of the Primes and allowing me to finally own these characters in brand new versions. Rippersnapper is the first of these to cross my path, so let’s get rip him open and snap some pictures! I’m going to start with his robot mode…

The original Rippersnapper was one of the smaller, basic sized combiner limbs, so getting him up-scaled to a Deluxe is pretty damn cool. The robot design takes some cues from the original toy, but is obviously much better proportioned and with serviceable articulation! I don’t know that I would recognize who he’s supposed to be from the front, but being in the know, I think it’s a great update. Some of my favorite things include, the chest plate that covers his combiner port, the guns that rise up over his shoulders and the way the claws on his forearms work with the articulation in his wrists. In fact, my only quibble about this robot mode is that his right beast leg doesn’t secure the way it should. There’s a peg there to hold it in place, and it works fine on the left leg, but this one just keeps popping out.

From the back, Rippersnapper still sports a pretty clean profile. The beast mode’s head forms a curved backpack and hood of sorts, while the tail fins function as heel spurs. The robot mode’s deco is predominantly a mix of cream and dark blue plastics with some lighter blue accents, as well as some red, silver, and yellow paint apps, giving him a much more diverse color palate than some of the Titans Return figures. All in all, I have to say that I love this robot mode. It looks great, the colors are beautiful, and really fits the G1 cartoon aesthetic that I treasure so dearly.

I don’t have any special attachment to Rippersnapper’s portrait from the good old days, but the head they went with here looks pretty similar to what I remember from the cartoon. He has a rather complex and squared-off “helmet” that frames his yellow face and large red peepers. It’s been so long since I had a new Transformer that my initial instinct was to pop the head off and then I remembered that was the last line’s gimmick. What was this line’s gimmick again?

Ooooh yeah. These stupid Prime Armor pieces.  I don’t like these at all, but I suppose Rippersnapper still looks passable with it on, even if it does bulk him out like crazy. As always, the piece on the front of the armor can be removed and you can stick one of the Prime Masters in there to give him imaginary powers. Yeah, I still don’t like this gimmick, but I do love the Pretender homage that’s included with the tiny Prime Masters, so I’ll definitely be picking up more of those when I find them.

Rippersnapper’s guns can be removed from behind his shoulders and held in his hands. These are a cool matching set of blasters, and I like them a lot better than the ones that came in the last line and had seats for the Titan Masters. Between these and his claws, Rippersnapper definitely has all the bases covered for combat. So let’s see how he looks in his Terrorcon beast mode…

The transformation here is pretty simple and it feels familiar, particularly in the way the legs expand and retract and that’s basically 90% of the transformation. The result is a… what? Some kind of land shark demon thing? Oddly enough, Rippersnapper’s alt mode has always stuck with me, despite never owning the original toy, and I think this is a pretty slick update, even if there isn’t a whole hell of a lot to it. His little legs are strong enough to support his body, but he can also rest it on his tail fin when he wants to. Also, his forearms are a lot more menacing than I remember from the original toy. He has some decent reach with those claws.

From the sides, Rippersnapper sort of looks like an adorable baby Trypticon. I think that’s mostly because of the dual cannons protruding over his shoulders and the snapping jaws. But no doubt, he’s more shark than dinosaur. The deco is more or less the same as the robot mode, and still very pleasing on the eyes. Oh yeah, and I love the faked out rub sign on the back of his shark head.

Speaking of the shark head, it features a lot of personality, especially in those beady little triangular red eyes and silver teeth. I really dig the vents sculpted into the sides of his head as well. The fact that there’s nothing to hide his robot chest being the same as his alt mode. At least all that great detail doesn’t go to waste.

Man, it feels great to open up a new Transformer again and I think Rippersnapper was a fine figure to come back to. There’s nothing exciting about the transformation engineering, but he is a super fun figure in both robot and alt mode. This kind of creativity that went into the later G1 designs is something that I missed out on back then, and it’s great to be experiencing it now with these modern updates. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find the rest of the Terrorcons before too long, because I’m anxious to get this team together. In the meantime, next week I’ll be back with a look at another figure from this assortment… and it’s a femmebot!

Transformers “Power of the Primes” Dreadwind by Hasbro

The great New Jersey Philospher Anthony Soprano once said, “‘Remember When’ is the lowest form of conversation.” That may be true, but Lord Primus help me, I do love me some G1 Transformers homages and call backs. And today’s figure is especially cool for me, because I was getting out of Transformers back when the whole Power Masters thing was getting started, so this is a brand new opportunity to finally own a version of G1 Dreadwind. And no, that Botcon repaint of Classics Jetfire doesn’t count.

We’ve seen the PotP Deluxe packaging several times now, so there’s not much new to talk about. As always, we get some absolutely kickass character art at the top of the card. Also, I shot this one from a bit more of a top-down angle so you can see how they had to maneuver poor Dreadwind’s legs to get them to fit on a standard Deluxe bubble. But before we start talking about his robot mode, let’s check out with his alt mode.

Dreadwind’s alt mode is a passable approximation of an F-16 Falcon, and yup, he’s a remold of Skydive from Combiner Wars! At first glance, the look is similar enough that I actually had to dig out Skydive to see if there was any remolding. The biggest difference is where the wings meet the body, and it looks like the tail wings are new. Also, you can see the newly sculpted circular intakes peeking out from under the wings and near the body. The Prime/Titan Master peg holes on the new wing pieces are a nice touch. But does it really work as G1 Dreadwind? Yeah, apart from the split fins on the back, where he should only have one, it’s pretty damn solid.

The deco is right on the mark too. You get a very pale gray/off-white body with aqua colored wings and cockpit, along with a darker charcoal nosecone and rear quarter. The only major departure is that the rear wings are purple instead of charcoal, but that still fits in nicely with the purple in the original Dreadwind’s color scheme. The silver paint one wings and the Decepticon insignia do a nice job mimicking the stickers on the G1 toy. The red painted intakes are a little different, but they don’t really hurt the homage at all. It’s a great looking jet and just different enough from Skydive to make me happy.

By now, y’all know I’m not a big fan of this line’s Prime Armor pieces, but this one can actually be used to drive home the whole Power Master homage, by plugging it into the top of the jet. Yeah, it’s a lot bigger than the Power Masters were, but at least they painted this armor in something close to the original Hi-Test’s colors to make it an option. Dreadwind’s gun can also be pegged into the hole on the back of the jet, or if you’re not a fan of symmetry, you can plug it into either of the sockets below the wings. It looks pretty silly on the top, so I tend to just plug it into one of the wings. Alrighty, let’s get this guy transformed and check out his other half.

In robot mode we get to see a lot more of the remolding Hasbro did here. The torso, while still built around the same old Combiner post, is completely new. A good chunk of the legs and arms are recycled, but he has brand new shoulders and really shows off those circular intakes. And that’s a good thing, because those shoulders are some of the only real design call-backs to the original G1 Dreadwind in this robot mode, at least below the neck. The biggest difference is the lack of cockpit on his chest.  With that having been said, I really like the deco on the robot mode. You get more of that pale gray and snazzy purple plastic, as well as the aqua on the shoulders and hips. There are some silver paint hits on the shoulders and chest, some red applications on the chest, and his feet and hands are painted charcoal.

The back shows off some of the things I don’t like about him, and that’s the fact that he wears all his wings on his lower legs. I don’t mind so much that it isn’t faithful to the original design, but I just don’t think it looks good. Having three wings hanging off each leg is why they had to contort him to fit in the package, and while it looks fine from the front, it looks really awkward and ungainly from the back or sides. You can fold the primary wings forward to clean up the back a bit, but at the expense of the front. Don’t get me wrong, I think it was clever the way they engineered the wings to move down there, rather than on the back like Skydive, but having all that kibble on his legs and nothing on his torso makes him look a little oddly proportioned.

Moving back up to the head, I really dig this head sculpt. It’s a great update to the original toy’s rather distinctive look. The yellow eyes look especially cool set inside the purple “helmet.” But all those exposed screwheads so prominently on display? Eh, I could have done without that.

I’ve already shown off Dreadwind’s weapon attached to his jet mode. Here he is holding it. It’s a really long peg that doesn’t fit too well in his hand, which makes it look a tad awkward, but overall not bad. Plus it’s the height of Decepticon fashion to have your shooter color coordinated to match your shoulders.

Dreadwind is a really cool little figure. I will admit, I was not terribly keen on seeing Hasbro cram Combiner Wars remolds into this new line, especially not in the very first wave of Deluxes, but in hand, Dreadwind feels just fresh enough for me to give him a pass. There are some design elements that could have been tweaked, but in the end, I definitely like him. Of course, part of my goodwill towards this figure is based on the fact that he’s based on what I would consider to be a somewhat obscure character/toy, but that’s probably just because I got out of Transformers when I did. I’m sure someone out there considers Dreadwind a favorite and I hope this little homage lives up to their expectations.

Transformers “Power of the Primes:” Jazz by Hasbro

After some detours into the larger Voyager Class and smaller Prime Master figures, it’s finally time for me to steer back to that first wave of Deluxes from The Power of the Primes line. I already checked out the two figures that I was most excited (or curious) about, Slug and Swoop, and today I’m opening up Jazz. I don’t know, Hasbro. You did a mighty fine Jazz back around 2011 in the Reveal The Shield line, and he still holds up pretty well today. Are you sure you want to take another crack at him? The pressure is on. Let’s take a look…

Same old packaging, but once again with some absolutely bitchin’ character art. Also, have a look at the ubiquitous Prime Armor piece in the lower corner of the tray, because you won’t see it again in this review. It’s going into the Accessory Junk Drawer! It doesn’t say anywhere on the package, but like all these Deluxes, Jazz is indeed a Combiner limb. I won’t grumble about that too much because it’s hidden really well. OK, let’s start things off with the alt mode.

LIBERTIES! Yes, Hasbro has taken major ones with Jazz’s new auto mode and that leaves me a little torn. No, this isn’t really Jazz to me but the design of the car is great, and it’s executed brilliantly. I will note ahead of time that some of the seams you see in the picture show a not so tight transformation, but I’ll blame that on user error. I did have some difficulties getting his arms packed in just right. But let me go on to say that the detail in the sculpt is especially nice. Not only do you get plenty of panel lines, but you also get some cool vent panels on the sides of the engine, and even a detailed gas cap. The clear plastic windows and, tinted blue plastic looks fantastic on the headlamps. I just wish they could have spared some paint for the taillights and rear bumper.

The rest of the deco is fabulous. This is some of the brightest, and most prettiest white I’ve seen on a Transformer in a while. Just look at the comparison with the previous Jazz. I know, how can I get so worked up over white? Well, it just looks so much better than the white we usually get and when combined with the blue and red stripe down the middle, this car really pops. You also get some graphics tampo’ed on the sides, including “Autobot Jazz” which is ironically there because you might not otherwise recognize him. It’s like when they used to print the character name on the apron on those old Ben Cooper Halloween costumes. A little silver paint on those front grills would have been nice, but you do get some red trim around the apron. Yup, apart from a brighter white, there’s really no contest to me which alt mode comes out on top and screams Jazz to me. Still, I love this car, and am hoping we get a repaint into another character. More on that later.

Before moving on to the robot mode, Jazz does come with a gun that can be pegged into the top of the car on any one of three ports. I kind of dig it straight up in the center. You can also substitute any of the Prime Master Decoy Armor in their Targetmaster modes. I’ll also note that there are some foot pegs on his back, so Prime or Titan Masters can ride him into battle!

The transformation here is pretty similar to many of the Combiner limb cars we’ve seen in the last few years and the result is a pretty great looking robot mode and a little bit closer to the Jazz I know, but still not quite there. I do appreciate the front of the car forming the chest, as this configuration is to me the most iconic as well as my all time favorite look for an Autobot Warrior. I think it’s the lack of door wings that really throws me off. With that having been said, this is a remarkably well-proportioned robot mode, and you’d have to look really close to even notice that there’s a combiner port embedded in his chest. I will, however, say that the forearms look pretty cheap. The lack of paint, the car shell extending behind the fists, and the ball jointed elbows all scream Legends Class to me.

From the back, there’s absolutely nothing to complain about. This is one of the cleanest robo-backs I’ve seen in a while. There’s none of that “hollow leg syndrome” and the canopy piece for the car forms a solid slab of a back. Not bad at all.

Unfortunately, the head is a little off for me. It’s unmistakably Jazz, but it feels a tad undersized. Also the facial features below the visor are very soft. The nose and mouth tend to get lost in the reflections of the silver paint and it’s almost like there’s nothing there. But once again, those blue headlamps look great, as does the bold Autobot emblem stamped on his chest.

Jazz comes with a neat little blaster, which we already saw on his alt mode. In robot mode he can hold in either hand. The articulation here is overall pretty good, with the one exception being the shoulders. The lateral hinge is pretty awkward to work with and the lack of a bicep swivel makes some of those action poses a little hard to achieve.

There’s a lot I like about this figure. The detail on the mold and the coloring are great in both car and robot mode. The engineering is solid, but not overly complex. And lastly, I really dig how well they hid the fact that he’s a Combiner limb. Had they gone with using this mold as a different character I would have been a lot happier to own him, but with the Reveal The Shield Jazz holding up so well, this one just feels redundant. For some reason I keep thinking this figure would have worked as an homage to the G1 Omnibot Overdrive. Either way, if you were a fan of the Combiner Wars G1 Autobots, you might actually dig this guy a lot, and I’d say he’d fit in pretty well with that lot.

Transformers “Power of the Primes:” Legends Class Beachcomber by Hasbro

It’s time for another Transformers Thursday fueled by the Power of the Primes! If you’ve been following along with my previous PotP reviews than you already know that this line has been a little hit and miss with me. But one thing it’s doing pretty damn well is the Legends Class figures, so let’s check out another one today. And if it isn’t an honest to Primus homage to G1 Beachcomber! “Ooooh, my. Booboobadooboo… this is gonna be paradise!” 

Everyone’s favorite Cybertronian Tree Hugger comes on your typical PotP card with some truly bitchin’ character art at the top. As far as I know, the last time Beachcomber got a figure was back in the Generations line around 2008. That one was also a Legends Class, but I only owned the repaint, Sandstorm. In fact, the last Beachcomber figure I owned was that giant futuristic dune-buggy from the Energon line. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to get this figure in hand. He comes packaged in his robot mode, but as usual, let’s start with his alt mode.

And it is indeed a good old fashioned blue and gray dune-buggy! There’s just the right amount of detail in the sculpt, which includes shock absorbers on the front and back wheels, headlamps, and some panel lines and further detailing on the running boards. You also get a little basic detail in the driver compartment, and some great looking treads on the plastic tires. The coloring is largely achieved through the blue and gray plastic, although the back engine area is painted gray and the two circular components are painted silver. There’s also a nice big Autobot emblem printed on the hood and bisected by the seam. I’ll admit that a few more paint hits would have been welcome, like some yellow on the headlamps and maybe some black for the driver cage, but I’m still pretty pleased with this little buggy.

As with most of the Legends Class vehicles lately, you can fit a Titan or Prime Master into the driver seat, in this case simply by disconnecting the bars to the driver cage and angling them back.

It’s also worth noting that the socket near the engine area can fit the weapons from the Prime Masters’ Decoy Armor. It may be a little odd to see the peace-loving Beachcomber toting around extra firepower, but somebody’s gotta save that pristine Golden Lagoon from the Decepticreeps!

Beachcomber transforms pretty much exactly like the old days. The legs fold out from his hood and the arms pull out from the sides. Compact the torso and you get your head reveal, and the results are superb! You get the same wheel placement on the shoulders and lower legs, a sticker on the chest similar to the original toy, and some blue, yellow, and orange paint on his abs to match the other sticker on the original. I also really dig the sculpted piston design in his chest. Some additional gray paint is used to pick out his fists. This guy looks absolutely amazing.

He looks damn spiffy from the back as well. Sure, you get a little of that hollow leg syndrome, but I’m willing to accept that in these Legends Class figures. I love how two of the cage bars form heel spurs, and the rest of the cage folds neatly down and close to his back. The positioning of the two silver drums on his upper back looks great as well.

The only thing this figure needs to round out the homage was a great head sculpt, and he’s got that too. The pronounced silver visor rests above a pretty human-looking face, which matches his Sunbow design spot-on. I can practically see him pursing his lips and whistling to the birds!

The articulation here is pretty much what I’ve come to expect from these Legends Class figures. That includes ball joints in the shoulders, elbows, and hips, hinges in the knees, a ball joint in the neck, and much to my surprise, this little guy actually has swivels in the thighs!

Beachcomber fits right at home among some of the more amazing Legends Class G1-homages we’ve been getting in the Titans Return and now the Power of the Primes runs. Everything about these little fellas make me smile, but Beachcomber scratches that special itch, because this really is the first decent official version of him we’ve had in ten years, and even that one wasn’t all that amazing. Part of me would still have liked to see these guys get the Deluxe treatment, but then there’s something so appropriate about the old Minibots getting to keep their smaller and simpler stature. Either way, there’s no doubt in my mind that Windcharger and Beachcomber rank in as my two favorites of the PotP lines so far.

Transformers “Power of the Primes:” Prime Masters (Wave 1) by Hasbro

If you’ve been reading my Power of the Primes reviews, you may have noticed that I’ve been peppering them with a general lack of interest in the whole Prime Armor and Prime Master gimmick. But don’t take that as a personal attack on the Prime Masters themselves, because I actually love these little guys and plan on buying every goddamn one of them. Why?

Well just look at them! They’re like a cross between Pretenders and Targetmasters. These little buggers replace the individual packaged Titan Masters assortments from the last line. I only picked up a few of those, and I don’t think I ever reviewed any of them, because they didn’t interest me a lot and I didn’t think they made for interesting reviews. Oh, I loved the Headmaster gimmick in Titans Return, but I was never big on buying different heads to swap out with the ones that came with the figures. But these? These are some tiny bots that I can really get behind. Each package features three components: The Prime Master figure, the Decoy Armor, and a weapon that attaches to the armor. The result is that there’s a lot of playability packed into these five dollar packets. Let’s start with Vector Prime…

Vector Prime’s Decoy Armor is based on G1 Metalhawk. I should at this point declare that I was already out of Transformers by the time The Pretenders hit the market, and while I’ve admired them and learned a lot about them since, I’m not all that familiar with Metalhawk. I want to say that’s because he didn’t get a US release, but I’m treading on unfamiliar territory there. Anywho, just check out the awesome paint and sculpting that went into this Pretender Shell! Keep in mind these aren’t all that much bigger than the Titan/Prime Masters. The blue plastic is quite brilliant and looks great with the silver, red, and yellow paint apps. I also dig how the helmet has an open face so you can make out the Prime Master’s face inside it. Have there ever been toy suits of armor for figures as small as these? I doubt it. The legs are static, but the arms can rotate.

From the back, we can see his weapon attached on a hinge for storage. It can be removed and Vector Prime can hold it while he’s in his Decoy Armor. Granted, it’s really big for him, but that’s because it also doubles as part of a the Decoy Armor’s Targetmaster gimmick. But before we get to that, let’s open up the armor and have a look at Vector Prime. Damn, these tiny guys are complicated!

The armor hinges open at the feet to reveal the little fella inside. The Prime Masters are basically the same as the Titan Masters in scale and articulation. You still get ball joints in the head and shoulders, and hinges at the hips and knees, but with the legs fused together. Vector Prime’s black and blue plastic matches that of his Decoy Armor, and you actually get a little silver paint on his teeny little face. These Prime Masters transform exactly like the Titan Masters, only instead of changing into heads, they change into little box-like chips that can be inserted into the Prime Armor that comes with the larger figures. Now you can transform the Decoy Armor into a gun and place Vector Prime in it. And since he didn’t come with any weapons, I’m going to use Grimlock to showcase the Targetmaster Gimmicks today.

“ME GRIMLOCK SAY HASBRO MARKETING GENIUS. NOT GIVE WEAPONS IN PACKAGE. MAKE YOU BUY TINY BOTS FOR WEAPONS!”

I think Grimlock may have a point. He might have been light on weapons as an incentive to pick up these packs. But even if that’s so, damn I love this! The Decoy Armors’ weapon modes are a tad large for Deluxes, but they’re very well suited for Voyagers or Leaders. Vector Prime’s armor makes a pretty good looking single-barrel gun, and you can stick him on top in his chip mode, or keep him in the armor. Brilliant! Moving on to Micronus…

Micronus’ Decoy Armor is based off of G1 Cloudburst, and here’s one that I actually remember. The shell is a little less rounded than the original release, but the resemblance is certainly there. Again, it’s a really nice sculpt for such a little toy and the coloring consists of some bright red plastic, black plastic, and some white and blue paint apps. Like Vector Prime, Micronus can be seen peeking out through the face hole in the armor and his gun hangs off the back for storage or can be equipped in either of the Pretender Shell’s hands.

Open up the Armor and out comes Micronus. His deco shares that of the Decoy Armor’s red and black plastic, and his little face is painted blue. How about the Targetmaster mode?

Micronus’ Armor changes into a double-barreled gun, which looks pretty damn good in Grimlock’s hand. And if you’d rather have Micronus plugged into Grimlock’s Prime Armor… go for it. Moving on to the final figure of the trio… Liege Maximo.

Liege Maximo is the lone Decepticon of the bunch and his Decoy Armor is also the most familiar to me as Skullgrin. Wait, he’s a Prime, but he’s a Decepticon? I gotta be honest, I don’t understand all the hows and whys of this whole Prime Master thing. I just know that Pretenders make me happy and this little Skullgrin doubly so. The blend of gray and neon mauve plastic is outrageously beautiful, with some white paint added to pick out his belt and skull. The sculpting on this guy is also fantastic.

A peek at the back reveals Maximo has a rather unconventional weapon stored there. Pop it off and put it in the Armor’s hand and it becomes… I dunno, a big slashing claw? Sure, why not!

Pop open the Decoy Armor and you can see that Liege Maximo shares the Pretender Shell’s amazing deco. I think he’s my favorite of the bunch because the sculpt on him just looks so crisp and the face paint is especially well done.

I’ll be honest, Maximo’s weapon mode doesn’t do a lot for me. It kind of just looks like a rake or something. Grimlock is not terribly impressed either, but the silver paint is sure nice. Besides, you didn’t come with jack-squat, Grimlock. Beggers can’t be choosers, so take the hot-pink claw thingie and like it!

Holy shit, these are some fun little toys! I know that the Titan Masters came with little vehicles, but in the end they were just Headmasters without proper bodies and were kind of lost on me. But here, Hasbro went in an entirely new direction and it pays off for me big time. When you consider that a big part of the Prime Master gimmick consists of big ugly armor pieces and pretend powers written down on the backs of cards, I really dig that Hasbro packed so much more playability into these little guys. The Pretender Shells are an impossible homage… Something I never thought Hasbro would ever revisit again in a million years, and yet here they are alive and well and swinging on the pegs down at my local Target. And if tiny action figures in armor isn’t enough, incorporating the Targetmaster gimmick into it as well just goes above and beyond. Keep making these little buggers, Hasbro, and I promise I will buy them all!

Transformers “Power of the Primes:” Grimlock by Hasbro

With this being my first week of regular content since the New Year, what better way to kick off 2018’s Transformers Thursdays with a look at the very highly anticipated new Voyager Class Grimlock? I actually got this guy in right around the turn of the year and I’ve been chomping at the bit to open him up ever since. I’m also just a wee bit nervous, because not everything I’ve been hearing about Grimmy has been good. Will PotP Grimlock be Bozo or King? I guess I’m about to find out!

This is the first boxed figure that I’m reviewing from PotP and as you can see it’s not much different from Combiner Wars or Titans Return. The character art is great, but I’m really ready for Hasbro to change up the packaging deco for the next Transformers line. I was never a big fan of this layout. It just feels bland and boring and generic, and it’s getting more than a little stale for me. But who cares about the box? I’m just going to trash it anyway. The figure comes packaged in his robot mode and as we’re about to see, that was a good choice on Hasbro’s part. Let’s jump right in to Grimlock’s alt mode.

Oh, boy. So, I knew I was going to be in for a rough ride here, but I’ll say straightaway that the T-Rex mode is at least instantly familiar. Unfortunately, It’s also a veritable symphony of good and bad execution, and the emphasis is leaning toward the bad. I’m tempted to say that I’d be fine with the main body if the legs didn’t seem to jut out so far to the point where they’re really awkward looking. Then again, I think a lot of that has to do with how wide the body is. He looks like he’s wearing a pair of big gold diapers, and they’re starting to sag. Let’s just say that the proportions on this T-Rex are a mess. I think he looks passable when viewed at a three-quarter turn, but looking at him dead on, or from above, or from either side makes me want to ball up my fists and scream, WHYYYY? And the answer I keep coming back to is simple: Because they made him a Combiner. That tail is chunky because that’s where the Combiner’s leg ports are. Those legs are so horribly misshapen because that’s where the Combiner’s shoulder ports are. I didn’t ask for Dinobot Combiners, but I’m not earnestly against the idea. But in this case, a lot was sacrificed in favor of a Dinobot Combiner gimmick, and I can’t say I’m very happy about it.

Proportions aside, assuming I’m able to overlook them, there’s some great stuff going on with this sculpt. There’s plenty of panel lines, vents, circuitry, and other doodads that really makes the detail come alive. I’d also argue that the head is spot on perfect, as are the tiny little arms, which are ball jointed into his body. It’s true that he’s really damn f’ugly from the top top down, but I’m surprised at how little that bothers me. The deco is also brilliant. Like the other PotP Dinobots, I really dig the mix of gray, red, and black plastic, along with those gold sections under clear plastic. Add in some foil stickers, and you get a deco that perfectly invokes the G1 Dinobot aesthetic, and matches Slug and Swoop pretty well. He scales fairly well with them too.

I do have some problems getting the seam running down his dino chest to close up all the way. Some silver paint for the arms and teeth would have been cool, but all in all, there’s some stuff to love on this T-Rex and just about all of it is from the chest and arms up. But I don’t think it balances out with the awkward, clunky proportions. Let’s move on to his robot mode.

And here is where the figure starts to shine a bit. The big barrel-shaped gold chest covered in clear plastic works for me, although I would have liked a little something between it and his pelvis. I think it’s called abs and Grimmy here just doesn’t have any. Regardless, I think the arms are great. They look powerful, I love the high shoulders, and while the diminished claws didn’t help him much in T-Rex mode, they look OK here on his wrists. It’s below the waist where things get a little dodgy. The legs could have used a bit more bulk to them. They look fine on their own, and I like the way the colorful foil stickers invoke that G1 spirit, but his lower half is a touch too scrawny for that powerful upper body. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a deal-breaker for me, but there’s room for improvement. Maybe he would have benefited from some actual feet.

The back of the figure advertises how the transformation doesn’t stray too far from the old G1 engineering. The T-Rex neck and head still flops down the center of the back, the chest opens up into “wings” and the tail, instead of folding up the sides of the legs, go to the back to serve as heel spurs. About the only thing out of place here is that giant hip plate, which is obvious Combiner kibble.

The head sculpt is simple, but wonderfully slavish to the G1 design. Here’s one thing that I wouldn’t have changed at all.

And just as things were getting better, Hasbro punches me right in the balls with the decision to not include any weapons. Nope, no weapons. No sword, no gun, nothing. It’s an omission so ridiculous, that I can scarcely believe it. You do get a couple of Combiner parts in there, and a power chip called the Dinobot Enigma. But if you want your Grimlock armed, you’re just going to have to steal the sword and gun from his fellow Dinobots.

The Combiner Parts double as Prime Armor and can attach to him at various points. The most useful place seems to be on his arms, as it gives him some claw-like thingies. They look OK and they’re probably fun for the kiddies. The Dinobot Enigma is basically like a Prime Master that doesn’t transform. Or maybe like a Dinobot Matrix? Either way it fits into any of the Prime Armor pieces you have. You can probably tell that I’m not at all vested in the Prime Armor power gimmick, although I do applaud that it’s a feature that actually requires kids to use their imaginations. And don’t you worry… I’ll be looking at some of them Prime Masters coming up real soon. Hey, before wrapping up, let’s take a quick look at him with the last Voyager Grimlock, from the Generations Fall of Cybertron line…

When it comes to the robot mode, I’ll take FOC Grimlock over this one in a heartbeat, but in fairness they are two pretty different looks. I like the deco on PotP Grimmy a little better, as it really does a splendid job matching the G1 aesthetic. But with that having been said, the proportions and overall sexiness of FOC Grimlock still impresses me. Not to mention he comes with a sword and a shield, which he’s probably going to have to learn how to share.

The T-Rex modes tell a very different story. I had really good memories of FOC Grimlock’s T-Rex mode, but dear god, it has not aged well. While PotP Grimlock looks bloated and ill-proportioned, the FOC version looks like a hollowed out husk of a T-Rex. As many problems as I have with this new Grimlock’s alt mode, I have to say it looks like a goddamn work of art beside the older FOC figure.

In the end, Grimlock here is disappointing, although the pretty decent robot mode helps keep him from being a total disaster. There’s a hint of greatness in his alt mode, at least in the top half, but when you get down to the legs, the whole thing just falls apart for me. It’s a real shame, because the original G1 Grimlock toy looked pretty damn great in both robot and T-Rex mode, so modernizing it should really just be a matter of adding articulation and cleaning up some of the proportions. And yet here we are with a modern update that looks worse because of the Combiner gimmick. Now, obviously, I won’t pass judgement on the Dinobots as a Combiner Team until I have all the figures to combine, but as things stand now, I’m not very happy with this trade off. Am I being too hard on this new Grimlock? I dunno. You tell me.

Transformers “Power of the Primes:” Legends Class Windcharger by Hasbro

I’m back after a short Christmas break and trying to wrap up a couple of loose ends before the year turns over and I take a week off and run my insufferable end of the year Favorites/Disappointments lists. I hope everyone had a great Holiday. Mine was spent with family, great food, some lovely adult beverages, and some pretty cool gifts, including the little fella I’m looking at today: Power of the Primes Legends Class Windcharger. I should note that I’m a big Windcharger fan. I can still remember getting my G1 Windcharger at Sears one day while my Dad was having the car serviced. I sat in the waiting room having all kinds of adventures with this little guy and we’ve been best buds ever since.

It seemed like Hasbro forgot this guy even existed for the longest while and then decided to make up for lost time. They put out a pretty cool version of him back in 2011 as part of the Reveal The Shield series. Then we got a pretty shitty version of him back in 2015 as part of the Combiner Wars line. I’d complain about getting another one so soon, but since I missed out on the 2011 version and only have the crappy 2015 release, I’m really jonesing for a Windcharger that I can put on my shelf with pride. Let’s find out if this one is it. And we’ll start with his auto mode!

This is a fine update to the original toy’s car mode. Windcharger is a spiffy little red sports car that bears a pretty strong resemblance to a Trans Am. This version is a lot less super-deformed than the original toy, and the wheels have been scaled back a bit, although these still look pretty beefy. The windshield and sunroof panels are tinted plastic and the side windows are painted black, and the rear window is sculpted to look like a louver, just like the original toy. The rest of the coloring is achieved through the red plastic and a little silver paint on the front and rear bumpers. He also has a crisp Autobot emblem printed on his hood. Windcharger can be a little finicky when it comes to lining up all his panels just right, but he holds together pretty well and looks great.

 

Surprisingly, Windcharger follows in the tradition of Titans Return by having a driver seat for either a Titan or Prime Master figure, although it is a little more difficult to get to. You have to unpeg the back portion of the car and hinge the whole thing up to reveal the driver’s compartment and pop in the figure.

Transformation is a wee bit more complex than the original G1 Minibot, but in it’s similar in spirit. The legs still unfold from the back, the arms come out from the sides, and the head and chest are hidden in the undercarriage. The result is a robot that looks like a proper homage to his G1 namesake and captures all the little simple fun of that toy. All respects have been paid in the design, with obvious call backs being the sculpt of the chest and the split louver on the front legs. The deco retains the black and red of the car mode, but adds silver to his upper legs and the gray plastic for his chest.

He’s pretty solid from the back too. His upper back is just a big slab of car hood, and the windshield pieces fold up to help cover up his hollow leg syndrome. OK, so it doesn’t help all that much, but it does make his lower legs a little more solid. Apart from the car door armor that he sports on his forearms, there isn’t a whole lot of kibble here, and that’s impressive. Indeed, the only nitpick I have here is his legs look a little squat compared to his upper body. It would have been really cool if they could have found a way for his legs to unfold just a little bit more, or maybe just give him feet. He just needs a tiny bit more leg to make him look properly proportional.

I’ve heard some grumblings from collectors over Windcharger’s face, but I really can’t find a lot of fault in it. OK, so his pursed lips kind of make him look like the Disappointed Dachshund, but otherwise I think it looks fine. I like that they retained his diamond shaped eyes and boxy head frame that he had in the Sunbow Cartoon, and let’s face it, at least he has a face. That’s more than the original toy could say. The silver paint is spiffy too.

Windcharger’s articulation makes him pretty fun and poseable. He’s got ball joints in his shoulders, elbows, and hips, hinges in the knees, and his head can swivel. I will throw out there that I really wish Hasbro would start giving the Legend Class figures some guns. At ten bucks a pop, I don’t think tossing a generic pistol in there would really break the bank.

I’m pleased to say that Power of the Primes Windcharger is just a couple of longer legs away from being perfect in my book. And even with what he lacks in perfect proportionality, he makes up for everywhere else. He’s a great homage to the original toy with some great call backs to the classic animated design. I also think he’s the best updated Windcharger we’ve every had. Yeah, the Reveal The Shield version is a great figure, but the robot mode strays too far from the G1 design to make the homage really work for me. This is the little bot I fell in love with all those years ago at a Sears Auto Department and it’s good to have him again and be able to retire the Combiner Wars version. I’ll be back tomorrow with not only the last DC Friday of the year, but the last review of the year, period!

Transformers “Power of the Primes:” Legends Class Slash by Hasbro

I had originally planned on doubling up Slash with Swoop on the last Transformers Thursday, but I’m so crazy busy this month, I decided to save him for some quick content today. Indeed, juggling content and work is going to be pretty nuts for the rest of the month. So, let me cut right to the chase and check out Power of the Primes’ tiniest Dinobot of them all… Slash!

Yes, as if intentionally sticking a thumb in my eye over my gripes about the size of the Deluxe Dinobots, Hasbro shows me just how small small can get. A Legends Class Dinobot… what will they think of next? Slash comes packaged in her robot mode (Yup, she’s a she!), but I’m going to start with her tiny little alt mode.

And she’s an adorable little robotic raptor. Is this a great looking alt mode? Nah, not really. There’s all sorts of robot mode shenanigans on display here from the robot legs forming a less-than-convincing chest to the robot hands literally holding the raptor feet. Is it a terrible alt mode? Nah, not really. It’s a newly designed Dinobot in a Legends Class and I’ve got to respect what they tried to do here, even if I would maintain that this size class is no place for a Dinobot to be in, unless you’re making the alt mode a Compsognathus. And I suppose you can just call this a Compy if you want. Or at least I can, because I’m not one of them dinosaur scientists.

On the plus side, I love that Hasbro kept the familiar Dinobot deco here from the translucent yellow plastic on the back plate and upper head to the gray, red, and black that matches Slug’s color palate so well. She’s even got those translucent yellow discs at the tops of her dino legs, like Slag does. Slash also features some decent articulation here, which includes a hinged jaw.

Transformation is pretty simple, especially since you can see just about everything that’s going on in the alt mode, but with that having been said, Slash’s robot mode is pretty fantastic. I will, however, admit that there’s nothing to the design that really stresses she’s a femme-bot to me. I suppose the face sculpt is a little softer, and maybe those tabs on her chest can double as… nevermind! I don’t want to go down that road. Point is, I dig this mode a lot. It also manages to hold onto the whole Dinobot aesthetic, while bringing a new character to the table. And other than the raptor arms pointing up behind her robot arms, there’s not a lot in the way of dino-kibble to complain about.

The size works perfectly too, so long as we’re talking about the pocket universe, solely inhabited by the PotP Dinobots, that I had to invent to make the scale work for these bots. As a result Slash looks great besides Slug and Swoop, although I’d still argue that I would have rather she been a Deluxe to level out the robot mode. But then we’d be talking about a whole new figure, so let me just backpedal and say, she’s fine.

And fine she is! The raptor mode may lean toward the f’ugly side, but this is still a fun figure to jam in my pocket and take along for adventures on my desk at work. I’ll confess that when I had her in hand at the store, I actually waffled a bit over whether I needed a Legends Class Dinobot in my life, but I’m glad my lack of discipline and willpower sided in favor of picking her up. She is most definitely a fun little toy and she will display wonderfully with the team. And just maybe she’s softened my heart a little... JUST A LITTLE… to the idea of smaller scale Dinobots.

Transformers “Power of the Primes:” Swoop by Hasbro

In case you missed it, Power of the Primes is hitting the shelves and last time on Transformers Thursday, I got really long winded over a very little Deluxe Dinobot named Slug. This time, I promise to control myself and not get as carried away. I’ve also decided that I’m not going to spend any time on the actual Prime Master gimmick, because it doesn’t do anything for me and I don’t have any Prime Masters anyway. Oh, I’ll get some eventually, but I just don’t plan on doing a lot with them and the Prime Armor. And with that preamble out of the way, let’s get this party started…

SWOOP!!! If you were expecting a big re-branding for PotP, then behold the visage of your disappointment. It’s more or less the same packaging we saw for the last couple lines. Nice character art, though. I’ll also throw in how odd it is that Hasbro has lost so many copyrighted names over the years, yet somehow managed to hold on to one as common as Swoop. Sure, they call him Dinobot Swoop, but couldn’t they have just called Slug, Dinobot Slag? I’ve also just realized how both fun and ridiculous it must be to be an actual toy lawyer. Anyway, this guy comes packaged in his robot mode, but we’re going straight for the Pteranodon.

Much like his comrade, Slug, Swoop’s alt mode is an excellent update to the original toy, with just a few minor quibbles here and there to keep him from achieving a state of Cyber-Pteranodon nirvana. My favorite thing here is the complexity of the sculpt. We saw it last time with Slug, and there’s plenty more here where that came from. The gray plastic body and wings are practically littered with detail including panel lines, vents, wires, and all kinds of the cool little things that make up a RoboDino. The body features a rather squared off back which speaks to the robotic design, while the wings are a bit more organic in their shape. There’s some black paint on the panels on top of his back, and he also has some nice red paint work on the sides. Swoop also has some little pegs on his back and wings so you can load him up with Titan Masters or Prime Masters. Fun!

The head clearly succeeds in its G1 Swoopiness. It features a red pointed crest and a long beak, which consists of a translucent shell over gold plastic. The eyes are painted red, as is the lower jaw, and he has a crisp Autobot emblem stuck right on the top of the base of the beak. Those old Dinobots had such a signature look to them and this guy delivers it in spades.

From behind you can see his two little red and silver bird feet trailing out the back, and if you turn him over, you’ll see some robot shenanigans, including his arms and hands tucked in the sides. This mode pegs together fairly well, with the one exception unfortunately being the head itself. The hinged part of the dino head that covers Swoop’s robot face will sometimes stay put, but it does like to drop down quite a bit as well. There’s really nothing holding in place but a wee bit of friction and a lot of prayers. Getting it to stay in place can be frustrating. Also, Swoop doesn’t come with anything to resemble his G1 missile launchers, and that’s a shame. Yet another reason one of those third parties should step up and do a weapons pack for these dinos.

I really dig that Swoop’s alt mode is designed so that it can be displayed in flight, or standing up. Articulation in the wings include hinges that allow them to flap in and out at the base, and points that allow them to fold in and out a little further along the wings. The beak can open as well.

Size is still a bit of an issue here, although not as much as it was with Slug. I don’t know much about the actual scale of Pteranodons, but in my mind they don’t need to be huge. Either way, I think he scales perfectly with Slug, and honestly, I think he scales OK with Legends Class Bumblebee. Swoop always was the runt of the Dinobot litter anyway.

Transforming Swoop is pretty simple and doesn’t hold a lot of surprises. The legs unpack from the back and body, the arms come out from the sides, and his beak splits to reveal his face. It’s all familiar, and it results in one fabulous looking robot mode. The proportions are great, I love the way the birdy feet are integrated into his lower legs, the wings fold up so that they aren’t in the way. He also looks very polished from the back. There’s still more sculpted detail on the undercarriage of his wings, and oh, that’s where they’re hiding his combiner port!

You’ve probably noticed that Hasbro went with the Diaclone blue over the Dinobot red for Swoop’s chest. It’s a weird choice, but not something I’m going to get all worked up about. Otherwise the robot mode deco features more of the same gray and black from his alt mode. You get some stickers on his chest, and some really pretty emerald green paint on his wrists.

The head sculpt is perfect. What else is there to say? The silver paint looks fabulous and he still retains his red crest from his alt mode.

In addition to the Prime Armor piece, Swoop also comes with a sword. It’s read, it has that distinctive elongated diamond-shaped blade that I tend to associate with the Dinobots edged weaponry. For the life of me I can’t remember whether the G1 toy came with a gun, but I’m almost positive he didn’t. Just those two missile launchers. I’m guessing that plastic went into the Prime Armor.

As much as I loved just almost everything about Slug (apart from his size), I think I dig Swoop here even more. His size isn’t quite as big an issue because of the nature of his alt mode and he always was the smallest of the Dinobot crew. The omission of his missile launchers, on the other hand, does irk me a bit, but like I said, maybe someone will step up and remedy that. In the meantime, Swoop and Slug look fantastic together and I’m getting really excited about completing this team. Next week, I’ll have a look at the newcomer to the Dinobots… Legends Class Slash!