Transformers Titans Return: Chasm and Quake by Hasbro

It’s Transformers Thursday again, and I’m continuing to work my way through the most recent wave of Deluxe Class Titans Return figures, and if you’re keeping score at home, I’m really enjoying this line a lot. Hell, in the last two weeks, I’ve opened some fabulous modern updates to Perceptor and Topspin and here we are today with an update to the G1 Targetmaster, Quake. No, he’s not a Targetmaster any more, but c’mon… It’s Quake! Quake’s back! Quake was one of the few G1 Headmasters that I actually owned. I’m excited!

Aaaand… he’s a repaint of Hardhead! Huh, well look at that. Yup, the repaints have been creeping into Titans Return little by little and Quake is actually one of two repainted figures in this wave. At least the repaint mania hasn’t reached the depths of Combiner Wars yet, where Hasbro practically pounded each mold into dust trying to sell it again and again. Suffice it to say, my excitement is tempered a bit, but I’m going to go ahead and pour a little extra golden, fortifying Jameson into my glass, check him out and see if he works. As usual, let’s start with his alt mode…

Well, I certainly do have some mixed feelings about the alt mode. On the one hand, Hardhead is a pretty distinctive tank design and this mold nailed it perfectly. As a result, when you repaint it, it’s going to be very obvious who it was originally intended to be. It’s tough, if not impossible to look at this guy and not see a Hardhead repaint. It doesn’t help that this is one of the few Deluxe Titans Return molds without ways to customize the weapons load out. Being able to mount the gun differently would have helped. And, of course, the original G1 Quake was a pretty conventional looking Earth tank, so this isn’t even close. But I’m happy to go with this as what he might have looked like before he got to Earth and scanned one of the local tanks.

With that having been said, this is still a great little futuristic tank design with plenty of sculpted detail, and I think the Quake deco looks phenomenal on it. The brownish-red, blue and gray go great together and those Decepticon insignia with the lightning bolts behind them really helps to sell the homage. Maybe this design is standard for tanks on Cybertron. Maybe Quake and Hardhead got onto the same line when they were handing out alt modes. Who knows? They’re toys, and I don’t need to overthink them. Especially when I’m being made agreeable by delicious booze.

If this little repaintpalooza hasn’t fully angered you yet, you should know that Quake’s little Titan Master buddy, Chasm, is very nearly a direct repaint of Hardhead’s Furos, but obviously with a different face sculpt attached to his back. This is one of the better, more detailed head robot molds and it looks pretty good in the new colors. I can’t tell if the their little heads are the same or not. Chasm’s face looks more angular to me, but it could just be an illusion from the lack of paint and the different color plastic. Either way, he can still sit in the cockpit of the tank, and the back of the cannon will also open up to give him a gunner chair. You also get a bunch of tiny foot pegs to load up more Titan Masters if you want. On to the robot mode…

As expected, the robot mode holds no surprises either. No remolded bits. It’s just a repainted Hardhead. Still, it’s amazing how a little paint can change up a figure and I’ll be honest, this is working for me. Once again, the paint scheme looks great, and Hasbro even managed to get the lightning bolt emblems visible on the front of his shoulders. I don’t remember that being the case on the original figure. This was a great looking figure when it was first released, and it still is.

Unlike the alt mode, Quake’s robot mode lets you mix things up a bit to make him look a little different than Hardhead. I’ve opted to leave the cannon pointing straight up. Yeah, it’s not much of a difference, but every little bit helps, and you can still angle it forward for when he needs that extra firepower. You also have the option to just remove the cannon altogether. An extra peg port on the arm would have been cool to attach it there, but nope.

At least the head sculpt is new and it’s pretty fantastic. I really dig the detail in the “helmet” and the yellow face and red eyes are perfectly painted. I’d say this is a perfect update to the original figure’s noggin.

Quake comes with the exact same gun as Hardhead, only this time it’s cast in gray plastic. It’s a cool gun. I got nothing else to say.

Quake repainted from Hardhead is going to work for some and for others, not so much. Would I rather have had a brand new mold? Of course, but we all know how the game works and Hasbro needs to get enough scratch out of their molds to make more. If these were more costly Voyager Class figures, I might have had a different and more critical opinion, but in this class assortment, I’m fine with what Hasbro did here. Quake doesn’t feel like a quick-and-dirty cash grab to me. He’s no Breakaway. Maybe it’s just me being made amiable by the whiskeys, but Quake genuinely looks like some care and love went into him and when all is said and done I like him.

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Transformers Titans Return: Freezeout and Topspin by Hasbro

It’s been a long while since I’ve had the opportunity to gas on about how much I love the G1 Jumpstarters toys. So many of my friends hated them, but I could never understand why. They had, what I always considered to be, Cybertronian alt modes, they’re robot modes actually looked like designs right out of the Sunbow cartoon, and they transformed instantly, making them loads of fun to play with. And oh boy, did I play with mine. They were in every battle. Particularly Topspin, just because I liked his alt mode a little more. What’s that? They were bricks? Yeah, so were a lot of G1 Transformers. That never stopped me from having fun with them.

Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to this review ever since I saw Hasbro’s first promo shot signaling Topspin’s return to the toy aisle via the Titans Return line! It actually surprised me that it took this long to get us an updated Topspin, especially since the character was so high profile in the much beloved Wreckers comics. Indeed, the character even got the third-party treatment quite a few years back from Mech Ideas. Could Hasbro possibly churn out a better figure at about half the price? Let’s find out… but I’ll save the comparison for the end.

So, Topspin’s alt mode is a Cybertronian jet, which definitely pays homage to the original toy, but brings some new stuff to the table as well. Now, I always thought that the two pylons coming off the front were both cockpits, kind of like Slugslinger. Whether or not that was ever intended, this new version gives Topspin a proper single cockpit right in the middle of the jet, making those two pylons just twin nosecones of some sort. I’m strangely OK with that. Everything else is more or less right on target. The stubby wings are pushed up from the back a bit, and they have a nice little angle to them. I’m also pleased to say that this update hides the robot arms a lot better than G1 Topspin. The hunched back features a pair of intakes behind the cockpit, and Topspin wears his folding landing gear in full view, right between the nosecones. I really dig this alt mode a lot, and I can really picture him dogfighting with Triggerhappy over the metallic landscapes of Cybertron.

Oh, and will you just look at the thrusters on this guy! These are some proper Space 1999 Eagle kind of rocket boosters. Fantastic!

The coloring is very much on point. You get the very familiar blue and off-white plastics for the body. The cockpit canopy is cast in translucent blue plastic with some paint that matches the body very well. The intakes are gold framed in black and there’s some of absolutely gorgeous silver paint on the pylons and guns. The wings also have some silver with red striping to mimic the stickers on the original toy. There are a few different configurations for the guns. My favorite is the stock, under the wing, configuration. My only gripe here is that the hollow portions are exposed from the top. I wish those were filled in. Ah, well!

Topspin’s little Titan Master is Freezeout and as far as these little guy’s go, he’s about as typical and nondescript as you can get. He shares the same blue and white plastic as Topspin, features no paint hits at all, and has a big screw in his chest. And, of course, he can sit inside Topspin’s cockpit and pilot his bigger half. You also get some tiny foot pegs on the wings, in case you want to load Topspin up with more little bots. Unlike the original toy, Topspin obviously doesn’t just flip into his robot mode. Nevertheless, the transformation is still pretty simple and features a few clever little moves.

And the result ain’t too shabby! Topspin gains a less squat and overall better proportioned upgrade and fits in beautifully with his fellow Titans Return Deluxes. He even keeps the original’s same silhouette by wearing his wings on his shoulders. There are some really solid callbacks to the original toy here as well, particularly in the panel lining on his chest, the lower position of the Autobot emblem, and even the blue hinges down near his robo-groin. I especially love how they took the intake sticker designs from the original toy’s knees and turned them into the fully realized intakes that you see in his jet mode. Likewise, you get painted panels on his shoulders and striping on his wing shoulders to match the G1 stickers. If I could change one thing, I probably would have had the spot on his right chest painted in to look like the catch on the original toy. Then again, I could probably do that with a Sharpie myself.

From the back, things are pretty interesting. The twin nosecones and cockpit canopy fold in to form his back in a sort of criss-crossing diagonal configuration. These pieces don’t really lock into place, but they hold there really well. As a result, Topspin looks really nicely filled out from the back. It would have been nice if the hinges in the wings allowed them to fold all the way back. Yes, that would spoil a big part of the G1 design homage, but sometimes they can be a bit cumbersome jutting out like that.

Freezeout forms a very respectable head that follows through on the homage nicely. The “helmet” really evokes the old style and the gold stripe sticker on the original toy is recreated here both in sculpted detail and paint. The silver used for the face is beautiful and there’s a different shade of blue used for the visor. Topspin sports a pretty stern expression, confirming what I already know: You don’t mess with a Wrecker!

I also want to throw out there how much I love Transformers with thruster cones in their feet. two of Topspin’s four engines wind up in his heels.

And then you have these guns… I love these guns!  The over-and-under barrels look great, and I dig the sculpted coils on the lower barrels. The silver paint also looks superb on these. Seriously, this silver paint that we’ve been seeing for the last couple of years is the best thing that’s happened to Hasbro in a long time. I hope they never stop using it. As cool as these twin guns are, sometimes you really need to make a statement… and that’s when you combine them for…

QUAD DAMAGE!! Holy shit, look at this thing! It’s both ridiculous and breathtaking at the same time. It’s a weapon fit for a Wrecker. I shall call it The Streetsweeper! Wreck’n Rule!

So, before wrapping up me spooging all over what is a truly fantastic figure, it’s time to pull out the Mech Ideas version of Topspin (called Apex) for a quick comparison. To put things in perspective, Apex was released back in 2013 along with Not-Twin Twist by one of the smaller third-party convertobot makers. They were packaged separately, but I bought them as a set for $70 and reviewed them very favorably back then. As far as 3P Transformers go, $35 a figure is pretty cheap, even when you consider that these guys were closer to the modern Legends Class than Deluxes. Let’s check out the alt modes…

Yeah, this fellow’s alt mode hasn’t aged very well. I like to think that Apex is supposed to be a much larger craft with that little triangular window housing a sizable bridge. It’s definitely a different take on the original vehicle design, but it feels really bland to me now and way too squat. You could add a little more to it by plugging Apex’s guns into the top, but it doesn’t change it up that much. I think Topspin’s alt mode blows this one out of the water. The design is more interesting to me and it makes far better use of paint apps. Transformation on Apex is also more fidgety and complex. Let’s move on to bot modes…

Pretty much the same thing here too. Besides being considerably smaller, Apex looks a lot rougher in comparison to Hasbro’s official figure. Some may prefer the busier and more complex sculpting of the chest, but I think it looks more unfinished. I also think the Seeker-style shoulder intakes work against the character homage. The shoulder wings on Apex don’t really lock in at all and his joints were fairly loose out of the package and haven’t gotten any tighter. What does all this mean? Nothing really. Except maybe that Hasbro has been taking notes and getting more creative with their designs and engineering. At the very least, I find it interesting that they are able to produce a Deluxe figure that is (in my opinion) every way superior to a figure that sold for twice as much and had no safety regulations working against it. Apex still has some merits. I don’t want to pile on the hate, but in the end…

YOU LOSE, APEX!!!

And here’s the part where I remind myself that Titans Return Deluxe figures can do no wrong in my book. That statement continues to ring true, as Topspin is a real treat. He’s not only the first true modern update of one of my favorite oddball Transformers as a kid, but he’s an absolutely stellar update on every level. I cannot wait until I can pair him up with his fellow Jumpstarter, Twin Twist. Hopefully it won’t be long. Next Thursday, I’ll keep on moving through this wave with a look at one of the repaints!

Transformers Titans Return: Convex and Perceptor by Hasbro

I’ve been on a third-party convertobot streak for the last four Transformers Thursdays, but I thought I would turn my attention back to the official stuff for a while. I’m also dog tired from a pretty brutal week at work, so hopefully I can make it through this review before I run out of steam. Just pardon me if I’m a little more brief than usual. Anyway, today I’m digging into the most recent wave of Titans Return Deluxe Class  figures and I thought I’d start things off with Perceptor.

I always liked Perceptor. He had a pretty unique personality in the Sunbow cartoon and was basically an Autobot nerd back when it wasn’t all that cool to be a nerd. Plus, his G1 toy was fantastic and featured a particularly good robot mode. I’d say it’s long past time he’s had a new figure, since it’s been six years since we got the last Perceptor as part of the Reveal The Shield line. There was a lot I liked about that figure, and a lot of things that came up short. It was a good try, but it eschewed Perceptor’s microscope mode for an SUV and that never sat right to me.

Well, clearly some of the thinking has changed at Hasbro because this new version is indeed a microscope and a pretty cool little one at that. I kind of get Hasbro thinking that kids would rather play with a truck than a microscope, but the Microman toys were such an integral part of Transformers history that it seems a shame to ignore them. Besides, how terrible is it to have a kid playing with a microscope? Back in my day, there were all sorts of toys that were designed to get kids curious about “the science!” Anyway, as if you needed any more indication of who this microscope is supposed to be, the the red, teal, black and silver deco is unmistakably Perceptor. The only thing missing is the big Autobot emblem on the front of his tube, and I can probably remedy that with one of the repro sticker sheets that I have lying around. I just can’t tell you how happy this little microscope makes me.

The scope itself is hinged so that it can look straight down on the tray or angle outward to examine something in front of him. What’s even cooler is that the knob on the microscope actually causes the tube to extend and retract. The tray is also specially designed to hold a Titan Master figure. I really dig that Hasbro tied Perceptor’s microscope mode into something specific to this line, like examining the little head robots. I love this mode so much, I’m not even going to acknowledge that there’s an “unofficial” tank mode, but there is as evidenced by the sculpted tank treads.

While he may be small, you don’t actually need a microscope to get a good look at Convex, Perceptor’s little Titan Master buddy. He’s cool enough, but he suffers from Hasbro’s continued reluctance to hit these little guys with some paint. As such, Convex is just red and black plastic. But while he isn’t anything special, I have to say I wholeheartedly approve of his name, Convex, which is such a great name for a head robot paired with Perceptor.

Perceptor’s transformation is super easy, but who’s complaining when the results looks this good! He features a very clean and well-proportioned robot mode, which hits all the right points of the G1 character. He wears his silver faux dials on his forearms, his translucent tray becomes a chest shield, and his microscope lens becomes an enormous shoulder cannon. In terms of pure homage, this figure is a winner.

He’s also pretty clean from the back and no hollow leg syndrome. Well, not completely hollow… just recessed. There are some lovely paint apps on the sides of his lower legs to replicate the stickers on the original toy. He also features a peg in the middle of his back, where he can store his rifle. I should also note that the right shoulder on my figure isn’t at all droopy, I was just a dope and neglected to straighten it out all that well for these photos. Any other day, I would have re-shot those, but I just don’t have it in me today. If nothing else, my carelessness demonstrates that you can pull the arms out a bit to get an even better range of motion. Yeah… that’s why I did it!

The Titans Return line has produced some great head sculpts, and Convex is no different. I really dig the depth to his “helmet” and the way it extends out on the sides of his face. The silver paint is beautiful, both on the face and all over the rest of the figure, and the yellow eyes are sharp and bright. The cannon does sit pretty close to Perceptor’s head, but it’s mounted on a hinged arm, so you can angle it upward to get it out of the way, or if you want you can actually stow it away on his back.

Perceptor comes with a sniper rifle, complete with a little molded biped stand. I seem to recall this being a thing with him in the IDW comics. I like the gun well enough, but I would have preferred something more akin to his G1 weapon. It has some pegs on the side so it can plug into any of the Titans Return vehicle modes and it also has the ubiquitous seating area for a Titan Master to operate it.

I’m beginning to believe that the Titans Return line can do no wrong by me, at least not in the Deluxes. These figures have all been great and Perceptor keeps that trend chugging along happily. He’s also all the more special for actually having a proper Microman alt mode. And with Hasbro now willing to give us boom boxes and microscopes, is it too much to hope that a trio of bots merging into a camera could be too far behind? Probably, but at least now I can have a solid foundation on which to build some hope. In any event, Perceptor sets this wave off to a very strong start and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me next week when I open up Topspin!

Transformers Titans Return: Twin Cast and Blaster by Hasbro

After a long drought through most of May, once again I’ve been putting the Transformers back in Transformers Thursday. Today I’m checking out a figure that I originally was not going to pick up, but after a while of going back and fourth on him, I decided to give him a try. He’s Blaster, and while I still kinda dig the Generations version as a Cybertronian mode, it was ultimately the old school “ghetto blaster” mode that finally won me over on this new Titans Return version.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Blaster’s G1 toy. On the one hand, it looked great in both modes, had decent articulation for G1 standards, and his robot mode looked fairly close to his Sunbow animated counterpart. You could load his cassettes into him and he was a really fun toy. On other hand, he was so damn big! You couldn’t have proper fights between him and Soundwave, because Blaster was like a giant by comparison. Well, once again, Hasbro went a little overboard with Blaster’s height, as this is a Leader Class toy, but I’ll address that later. For now, let’s check out Blaster’s alt mode.

Glory be to the 80’s! Well, almost. Blaster’s alt mode is indeed a fairly authentic looking portable sound system. It reminds me a little bit of the Emerson that I had sitting on a bookshelf in my bedroom when I was a teenager. I used to use that sucker to record all my favorite hits off the radio. Duran Duran, Bowie, Tears for Fears… oh, the memories! And all in all, this is a pretty good looking alt mode. Yeah, you can see through parts of it and none of the controls are terribly convincing, but hey, you have to leave some room for improvement for when Takara gets around to Masterpiece Blaster. Granted, the back is pretty f’ugly, but then the back sides of real tape decks weren’t usually all that great looking anyway.

Blaster includes a carry handle and there’s a button that causes his cassette door to spring open… only it isn’t really for cassettes. Instead, it holds what are supposed to be some kind of data slugs. Does anyone else find it ironic that Hasbro couldn’t bring themselves to make Blaster an actual cassette player, and yet they’re selling a Role Play Walkman for Guardians of the Galaxy in the very next aisle at Target? Anywho… Blaster comes with a piece that fits in there, but it’s not even made up to look like a data slug. It’s really just a piece for his base mode, so let’s lay that aside for now and grab Rewind.

Rewind fits in there perfectly. I guess this set up could be akin to one of those charging dock/speaker systems for your digital music player/phone. The fact that Hasbro made the dumb decision to make Rewind a data slug and yet still put a cassette sticker on him makes me feel like I’m putting a micro cassette player into a larger cassette player. But, whatever. Rewind can go inside him, and eject out, and I guess it’s still better than those horrible chunky discs that they designed for Generations Blaster. Let’s move on to his second alt mode… the ambitiously titled “city mode!”

As far as third mode bases go, this one isn’t terrible, although calling it a city is unfortunate. At best it’s a battle station. You do get some positions on top for Titan Masters to operate, a gun platform in the middle, and a couple of platforms with ramps to be used as landing pads or perhaps maintenance bays for vehicles. There are also a few ports to mount other weapons. Truth be told, I’m actually surprised at how much I dig this mode. I don’t think it compromises the robot or stereo mode at all and it’s kind of a fun little playset for the little Titan Masters. And as long as we’re on the subject of the little guys…

Blaster’s Titan Master, Twin Cast, is possibly one of my favorite of these little guys. The red and black plastic just looks great on him and he actually has some paint on his tiny little face, which is nice even if they did get a little sloppy with the blue. The fact that he’s just a tiny version of Blaster is adorable. Obviously, Twin Cast transforms into Blaster’s head, so let’s move on to the robot mode.

I was in love with this robot mode the moment I had it out of the box. I mean, damn is he great looking! The proportions are excellent and he’s just a big bundle of G1-boxy goodness. I’m not a huge fan of the gray plastic they used, but that’s about the only thing I can complain about here. And I don’t mind it so much when it’s tossed in with that beautiful red plastic body and that bright yellow chest. Hasbro also sprang for some wonderful paint apps on the shoulders and lower legs to mimic the stickers on the original toy. Even those lower legs, which I thought were going to be too big and chunky, actually look and feel fine on him.

Like his stereo mode, Blaster’s robot mode ain’t too pretty from the back, but it isn’t all that bad either. The way the speakers wrap around his legs is really clever and looks cool. And thank Primus that handle folds down behind his back, because when I first saw pictures of this guy in the box, I thought that had to stay above his head.

Twin Cast forms what at first looks like a rather un-Blaster-like head. It actually strikes me as more of a Perceptor portrait than Blaster. It’s also way too small. Thankfully, he has one of those flip up helmet gimmicks and…

Voila! You get a Blaster noggin that makes for a very nice nod back to the original toy. I really hated the flip-up helmet gimmick on Galvatron, I was OK with it on Powermaster Prime, but here it works beautifully. It fits well, it looks great, and the engineering allows it to keep full rotation in the neck. Not bad at all!

In addition to the data slug/base part, Blaster comes with a rifle that’s a pretty good homage to the G1 toy’s weapon. It’s been scaled back a little and made more compact, but the key similarities in the design are certainly there.

So, I can honestly say that I’m so happy to have picked up Blaster, but size is still kind of a sticking point for me with this figure. He towers over so many of the Titans Return figures, which is certainly in keeping with the wonky scale of the 80’s toy-line, but it feels out of place here. And yet, ironically, he’s still actually a little bit shorter than the original G1 Blaster. It’s something that I can get over because he’s such a great toy, but that leads me to another problem with him. Now that I have him, I’m going to have to pick up Titans Return Soundwave, which I hadn’t planned on doing. Unfortunately, the appeal of finally having a Soundwave and Blaster that can go head to head with each other is just too irresistible. It also means that I’m probably going to pick up more of the data slugs, even though I know their crap. Damn you, Blaster, you were just a trap to get me to spend more money!

Transformers Titans Return: Blunderbuss and Broadside by Hasbro

What’s this? For the third consecutive week I actually have a new convertorobot for Transformers Thursday? Yup, and I’ve been stockpiling, so it looks like I should be covered well into June. Today I’m checking out the Voyager Class Triplechanger, Broadside. I have not heard many kind things about this figure, so I’m a little apprehensive about this bot, especially since I’ve got no nostalgia for this character going in.

As a kid, I barely knew that Broadside existed. I don’t recall ever seeing him in the Sunbow cartoon, and with his original G1 toy released in 1986, that would have put him on the shelves a little bit after 14yo me was starting to drift away from Transformers. In this case, that was probably a good thing, because looking back, the G1 toy looks rather cringe-worthy, even by G1 Triplechanger standards. Let’s see if a new and updated Broadside can win me over. I’m going to break tradition today and start out with his robot mode.

Oh, boy, I really dig this robot mode a lot. Broadside is a bruiser, with powerful squared off slabs as shoulders, a stout chest with a cockpit canopy in the center. The sheer boxiness of this bot is a thing of beauty and the amount of detail in the sculpt is impressive. There’s just so much going on here, from the retracted landing gear in his chest to the folded conning tower on left shoulder and what I’d like to assume is a rocket six-pack on his right shoulder. No matter where I look, there’s something interesting to see on this guy. I also love that he has those wedges for shins. Those probably come in handy if he loses his weapon and has a tough scrape with a Decepticon.

Even from the back, there’s nothing to complain about. He wears the nose and canopy of his jet mode as a backpack and he has wings behind his arms, which can be angled out or folded in, depending on your display preferences. Although, it is worth noting that the wings have to be angled all the way out to take advantage of his shoulder rotation. Broadside is a bit back heavy, but the double hinged ankles let you float the foot forward or backward, to counterbalance whatever stance you want to go with. As for the coloring, the two-tone gray is all business, but the red with hints of yellow and translucent blue looks damn snappy on him.

Blunderbuss makes for a head that really fits the body. This noggin looks like it’s designed to take a pounding. There’s also a button below Broadside’s chest that can deploy a pair of pylons to further protect the head. I don’t know what Hasbro’s fascination with this gimmick is, but they’ve been including it with most of the Titans Return Voyagers. The difference is that this is the first time I actually like it.

And in robot mode, Blunderbuss’ mix of gray and red plastic makes him look good even though there aren’t any paint apps on the little guy. The usual Titan Master articulation applies: ball jointed shoulders and neck, and hinges in the hips and knees of the fused legs.

Broadside comes with a translucent blue gun, which he can hold in either hand and it does have a seat that fits a Titan Master. All of this is great stuff, and as a robot, I have nothing but love for Broadside. So let’s see how the first of his alt modes fares…

Broadside’s first alt mode is an aircraft carrier, which is admittedly not that easy to pull off, since it’s essentially just a slab with a flight deck. Nonetheless, I think he pulls it off pretty well. I do, however, have a few gripes. I’m not thrilled about the use of stickers for the runway, but I used a stylus to smooth it out and sharpen the edges and in the end I think it looks OK. Nonetheless, since it’s set over hinges, there’s bound to be wear and tear after multiple transformations. Finally, the prow section of the ship does not peg together, which can be annoying. If everything is tabbed together just right, it usually stays in place, but it has a habit of separating with handling.

There are three folding feet on the bottom for it to stand on and you can attach the gun to the side to give it some extra firepower. There are also tons of pegs on the flat top to stand Titan Masters, but they also serve a second purpose. Hasbro included a set of tiny Aerialbots to peg into the deck. They’re very simple pieces, all white, and they come on a sprue, and I absolutely love that these little jets. They really give this carrier a ridiculous sense of scale that takes the concept of mass shifting to the extreme.

I also dig that this mode works as a flying carrier too. Oh, it’s nothing special. I just fold out the wings on the sides and plug the gun into the bottom. It’s a subtle, but nifty little fan mode that makes the toy just all that much more fun. So, how about that third mode?

Yeah, it’s a bizarre hump-backed jet. Much has already been said about Broadside’s unfortunate attempt at a jet mode. To pile on it even more seems unnecessary. I’m used to seeing half-assed third modes in Triplechangers, but this one seems especially egregious. The funny thing is, I could almost accept this as a space fighter mode, but even with all that is wrong with it, what really pisses me off about this alt mode is that Hasbro was too lazy to make the tail fins point in the right direction. I’m not even kidding. If these pieces weren’t backwards, I could almost get behind this sad aircraft. There’s just something about the back half of this jet that just screams the design team just gave up.

Now, the red fins just pop out and can be reversed. The gray fins can probably be taken out by knocking out the pin and reversed as well. I don’t think it would make a huge difference for the other two modes, so it is a possible option for improvement, but I don’t think it’s worth the effort. At least not for me. I also find it really odd that the carrier mode has landing gear, but the jet mode doesn’t. You can, however, flip out the fists to help support the back of the jet.

Of course, the cockpit opens and Blunderbuss can fit inside, which is cool. You can also plug Broadside’s rifle into the top to fill it out a bit more and add a gunning station to the top. Does it help? Not really. But I have to wonder if a kid with an imagination wouldn’t love this ugly jet anyway. I’m thinking they probably would.

With a great robot mode and one solid alt mode, Broadside still gets my stamp of approval. He’s a fun toy and it’s a hell of a lot better than the Broadside that was out when I was a kid. Granted, I didn’t have very high expectations going in, and I already knew that the jet mode was going to be hot garbage. It feels like that mode is just a few tweaks away from being acceptable, and that’s what’s probably going to bug people the most about it. That having been said, I’m certainly not sorry I picked him up.

Transformers Titans Return: Legends Class Brawn by Hasbro

Well, be still my energon pumping heart, today makes two Transformers Thursdays in a row that I actually have some new bots to look at. In fact, I should be covered for a little while now so the drought is officially over! Today I’m checking out Legends Class Brawn, another figure that I had to grab off of Ebay because these never show up around here. And then when I feared the deal might not be sound, my buddy came through with one for me as well. Either way I was covered, and in the end I wound up with two. Now, the downside of having to go second-hand on these is that both were shipped to me loose, so I have no in-package shot for you, but we all know what it looks like by now, so let’s jump right in to Brawn’s alt mode…

True to his original G1 form, Brawn takes the form of a green off-road vehicle, and this is a pretty solid one at that. There isn’t a whole lot of sculpted detail here, but you do get a spare tire on the rear of the roof. More importantly, the coloring on this little 4×4 is especially nice for a Legends Class. The pretty metallic green is joined by some black painted windows, and yellow bits peeking out from the sides and the front, all of which keeps his deco very faithful to the original toy. You also get some lovely silver on the front bumper and a tiny Autobot insignia on the hood. And so in the end, this vehicle may be a little modernized, but there’s no denying who this is supposed to be.

I was never a big fan of Brawn as a character, he always struck me as a jerk and even a bit of a bully in the original cartoon, but I loved his G1 figure for all its quirkiness and everything about this alt mode does that figure proud!

Despite being a Legends Class, Brawn can actually open up and take on a Titan Master driver! Here’s where things can get weird, because Hasbro already released a Titan Master pack with head robot named Brawn that transformed into Brawn’s head. So, yes, you can actually have Brawn driving himself around. That’s some weird and crazy Inception shit right there. What really cooks my noodle is that both of these figures had to be in production at the same time, as they’re both clearly designed for Titans Return, so why did Hasbro even bother making the Titan Master Brawn if they knew they were also making a proper Legends Class version of him. It really makes no sense.

Anywho… Transforming Brawn is as simple as it gets and it’s basically the same thing as a lot of the old school Minibots. I find that to be really refreshing and I wish Hasbro would embrace this kind of simplicity for the smaller figures more often. All you do is pull the arms out of the sides and fold the legs out of the back. OK, so Brawn cheats a little bit because you have to take off the the piece of the vehicle with the spare tire, but it’s hard to argue with the results, because Brawn looks absolutely fantastic.

I mean, just look at this little guy! I adore the fact that the structure of his blocky yellow torso is practically pulled directly from the original toy! He’s got some great proportions and all around a very clean and tidy robot mode. The only real kibble on him are his wheels and they look great on his shoulders and lower legs. Hasbro also saw fit to take away those unwieldy chromed metal meat hooks that the original toy called arms and instead give him proper sculpted fists with silver paint. Even from the back this little dude looks pretty good.

The head sculpt is also excellent. He features his trademark domed “helmet” with a face that sports a superb likeness to the animated Sunbow design. His face is painted with more of that lovely silver paint and his blue eyes are crisp. Brawn can also turn his head, which is something that can’t always be taken for granted with these Legends figures. Hasbro stamped another Autobot emblem on his chest and even broke out the blue paint expressly for that one little panel below it. Classy!

You have a few options as to what to do with the tire piece. You can have him hold it like a gun, as it does have those three sculpted emitters on it. He also has peg holes in the sides of his forearms so he can wear it like a shield. Personally, I don’t think it works all that convincingly as a gun or shield. Then again, that could be because I’m a middle aged guy that lacks the imagination and wonder of the child this toy was aimed at. Thankfully, you do have a third option…

Yup, just peg it right on his back. It really doesn’t add a lot more bulk to his backpack and in all honesty it looks like it was meant to go there anyway.

As far as I’m concerned, Brawn is a perfect modern update to the old toy and definitely ranks in among my favorite Transformers this year. Yes, I’d actually like to see more of the Minibot characters get the Deluxe Class makeover, but when the figure is this good, I’ll take what I can get. And it’s great figures like this one that makes me wonder why Hasbro can’t just take a crack at updating all the Minibots together in a timely manner. They’ve had some real hits with this one and Powerglide and even Generations Cosmos is a figure that still holds up very well. Sure, the last Bumblebee wasn’t so great, but I guess they can’t all be gems.

Transformers Titans Return: Flintlock and Sergeant Kup by Hasbro

Behold! For the long, dark night has ended and I have a new Converto-change-a-bot® to look at on Transformers Thursday! Yup, I’m pretty excited about it, especially since it’s part of the new wave of Deluxes, because I have been totally digging the Titans Return Deluxes! And it’s Kup! Oh, excuse me, Hasbro lawyers… Sergeant Kup! With how terrible Hasbro’s distribution is around here, I don’t even want to tell you what kind of backroom deals I had to do to get this guy in a reasonable and timely manner. …Best not to dwell on it. …Ebay. It was Ebay. But he was actually only a couple of bucks over retail, so I did good.

The card art features Kup’s properly perturbed and cranky looking head descending onto his geriatric-robo-body. Or is that Flintlock’s head? These Head/Titan Masters always confuse the hell out of me. Anyway, the last time we saw Kup was as part of the Generations line back in 2013. I thought it was a nice looking figure with some clever engineering, but it wasn’t really my G1 Kup so I recently sold him off in anticipation of this release. Shrewd move or hasty mistake? Let’s press on and find out. Kup comes packaged in his robot mode, but I’m starting with his alt mode.

Now this is an alt mode for Kup that I can get behind! My biggest issue with Generations Kup was that he was an Earth truck. Here we’ve got a pretty cool looking Cybertronian truck that’s certainly inspired by the original toy. The two-tone blue deco is very evocative of the original and I think it looks great in spite of the fact that there aren’t a ton of paint apps here. You do, however, get some nice sculpted details in the mold, which includes panel lining and a bunch of hatches on the sides.

The clear canopy that opens to reveal the driver’s compartment, and of course his Titan Master buddy Flintlock can fit in the driver’s seat.

Kup’s guns are designed to mount in the back of the bed, where they mainly just fill up that space. You can turn them around to have them fire behind him, or even combine them to form a gunning station for a Titan Master. There are also ports on the sides where they can be pegged in as well. All of these are pretty cool options. With the guns out of the bed, you can also make use of some of the tiny foot pegs and load up the back of the truck with Titan Masters.

And here’s a quick look at Flintlock. Still no paint apps on these little guys, but I like him. Articulation still consists of ball joints in the shoulders and neck. The legs are fused together, but have hinges in the hips and knees.

Kup’s transformation features some cool engineering. I really dig the way the side panels of the truck fold to become his lower legs, and the way the canopy forms his chest with the front of the truck behind it. The robot mode borrows more from the original toy than it does the Sunbow character art, especially in terms of the squared off shoulders and arms. There’s not a lot of that rounded and more organic aesthetic that was introduced with the movie designs. Well, maybe a little in the legs, but even that is a stretch. I thought that was going to be a big sticking point for me and this figure, but it really hasn’t been. I credit that to how clean and well proportioned this robot mode looks.

Another cool feature about the figure is how Kup can store both of his guns on his back. It doesn’t add too much bulk to him and it actually kind of looks like a jetpack, albeit a hollow one. Also, thanks to that clever leg transformation that I mentioned earlier, Kup doesn’t suffer from hollow leg syndrome when viewed from behind. That’s always a plus!

The deco here is more of the same that we saw in his alt mode, but you do get the addition of some of that dark gray, which breaks up all that blue and blue. He also has some yellow paint accents and an Autobot insignia at the top of his chest. I’ll confess the arms below the shoulders strike me as a bit unfinished. A few paint hits there would have helped, but all in all I think the coloring here is pretty good.

The head sculpt is pretty sweet too. The rounded style of his “helmet” and the cranky, scowling mouth is perfect for him. He looks like he’s about to scream, “Hey you damn petro-rabbits… get off of my lawn!” In the shot above, you can probably see a little mold flashing on the edge just in front of his face. I could have done without that. but I guess you have to get in pretty close to really notice it.

Kup comes with a pair of twin guns and I love these things. They’re pretty short and compact and he looks great dual wielding them. You can also stick them together to form a double-barreled weapon with a place for a Titan Master to sit. Personally, I prefer them as separate guns, but it’s always nice to have options.

If you can’t tell by now, I’m extremely pleased with the way Kup turned out. Stylistically, there were certainly some compromises here, but I’m cool with that. He’s a great looking figure and I think he fits in quite nicely with Titans Return Blurr, Hot Rod, and even Generations Arcee. I’m getting into the mindset that Hasbro can do no wrong with the Titans Return Deluxe figures, and that appears to still be the case with this latest assortment. I’m actively hunting down Perceptor and Top Spin, and I’m even pretty stoked for Quake. To be honest, I’m even looking forward to getting Krok.

Transformers Titans Return: Legends Class Gnaw by Hasbro

In case you hadn’t noticed, my last two Transformers Thursdays have been leading up to today, as I’ve been saving my most anticipated figure in this assortment for last: Gnaw the Sharkticon! First introduced in Transformers: The Movie, this ravenous horde of cybernetic beasties served as a form of execution for all who were condemned to death by The Quintessons. That sounds pretty bad ass, until you realize that the Sharkticons are a bunch of dumpy, goofy-looking dummies. Nonetheless, they were certainly something new and different and for whatever reason I thought they were cool. Unfortunately, they also came out at that weird time for me where I was still watching The Transformers cartoon, I definitely saw the movie, but I wasn’t really getting that many of the toys anymore. I kind of still wanted them, but my Christmas and Birthday gift requests were leaning more toward video games than toys. Which means that this Legends Class release is actually the first time I ever owned a Sharkticon. Am I excited? You betcha!

I’ve got something to say about Hasbro’s choice of size here, but first, can we just talk for a moment about that card art, because… HOLY SHIT LOOK AT THAT CARD ART! The bat-shit crazy, cracked-out green eyes, the massive teeth, the sharp claws. That particular flavor of nightmare fuel is not what I think about when I think about these guys. Kudos to whoever drew that, because it makes me see the Sharkticons in a whole new light. Now, about the size. When I first saw pictures of the toy, I was excited. Then I heard it was a Legends Class and I was really disappointed. Now I have the figure in hand and I’m realizing that it was a perfectly acceptable decision to go the Legends route. I’ll still argue that he’s a tad too small, but not so much so that I can’t accept him being in scale with the Deluxe figures. I’d also argue that the smaller size makes him more ideal for army building, but then I’ve had a hell of a time just getting my hands on one. Normally, I start my change-o-bot reviews with the alt modes, but let’s go with the robot mode this time…

I’ll just come right out and say it… I absolutely love this robot mode, but do I have a few complaints? Sure. The arms hanging off the backs of the feet is a textbook example of unsightly kibble. I kind of get the idea that the designer just threw up his hands and said, “Screw it… I got nowhere to go with them!” One might argue that they serve a function as heel spurs, but Gnaw already has those. I’ll also add that I wish the row of teeth in front of his head didn’t come up quite so high because it obscures his face quite a bit. But, with those gripes aside, I think this guy looks fantastic. The design manages to capture the familiar look of the G1 movie aesthetic and even smooth out the proportions a bit so he doesn’t look quite so ungainly. There are some lovely sculpted panel lines and detailing, and while a good deal of the coloring here is in the plastic as opposed to paint apps, the coloring is spot on perfect, right down to the bizarre choices of pink and blue used in the original toy, only more sparingly here. If I can get a couple extra Gnaws, I may try to color his teeth with a silver marker, but otherwise, I love the deco.

OK, so from the back, things aren’t as great. The top half of the alt mode is peeping back at you and looks like he’s going to wave. You also get some hollow areas and unfinished screws. Obviously, the Legends Class is held back a bit by budget and size, so let’s just say that it’s best not to look at Gnaw from the back.

Moving on to better things, the head sculpt is a wonderful update to the original toy. It’s not nearly as goofy looking. I always loved the shape of the Sharkticons’ “helmet” and they did a great job painting the eyes.

Like the original toy, Gnaw has a little spiked flail that he can wield in either hand and serves as his tail in his alt mode. And with that skillfully interjected segue, let’s turn to his alt mode. The transformation here has some cool and unexpected things going on and the result speaks for itself.

Yup, the “shark” mode represents pretty damn well, offering only a few things for me to nitpick. I don’t really care for the way his robot hands are exposed behind his feet and I wish that seam running down his face closed up a little better. Or perhaps I should say, I wish it stayed closed up a little better. Otherwise, I really love what we got here. The deco here shows off some more purple, and I can’t say enough great things about the plastic they used for his eyes. So much about this figure just feels so much more “premium” than your average Legends Class release, and that’s coming from someone who tends to really enjoy this Class quite a bit. The plastic looks and feels great, the colors pop, and even with some notable drawbacks in the design, the end result succeeds brilliantly.

I honestly didn’t know what I was going to think about Gnaw once I got him opened up. I wanted him to be great, but part of me was still wishing they had designed him as a Deluxe Class figure. Now, I’m not going to lie, part of me still wishes they had gone that route, but mostly because I’m curious as to what they would have done given a little more complexity of design. Truth be told, I’m totally satisfied with what we got in this little package and I’m going to do my best to try to track down as many of these little buggers as I can without paying scalper prices. The Sharkticon is an update that was long overdue, and Titans Return seems to be the perfect venue to revisit a lot of those overdue updates.

Transformers Titans Return: Legends Class Bumblebee by Hasbro

It’s Transformers Thursday and today I’m opening up another figure in the first wave of Titans Return Legends Class releases. Bumblebee was going to be an pass for me, but I found it easier and cheaper to buy the entire assortment in order to get my hands on Kickback and Gnaw. Let’s find out how that turned out for me…

It seems like we just had a Legends Bumblebee, but it looks like that last one was back in 2014. That Generations release was a damn fine little toy and even after two years, it’s going to be a tough act to follow. Granted, that one was going for more of a Fall of Cybertron look, whereas this one is definitely G1 inspired. The packaging shows off the figure in its robot mode and features some of the best character art for Bumblebee that I’ve seen on a toy package. I’ve also gotta say how much I love that they included his original G1 motto on the back of the package. Reading it literally made me smile.

The auto mode holds no surprises and I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. Hasbro went for a generic, yellow compact, which is about as close as you can get to a VW Bug without having to pay out for the license. There’s quite a bit of ugly seaming on the hood, especially for a Legends Class toy, but all in all I’m content with this alt mode. It displays particularly well with some of the Generations Legends cars like Windcharger and Swerve.

The yellow plastic is bright and fresh and matches the yellow paint pretty closely. The deco is rounded out with some black windows and striping. In addition to the Autobot emblem on the roof, Bumblebee even features some silver and red paint operations. As much as I’d love to see a Legends Class VW Bumblebee, this is a fair substitute.

The transformation here is not as overly complex as some of the Legends and the resulting robot mode reflects that. It’s a very traditional looking G1 Bumblebee, almost to a fault. You get the roof chest and the hood split into feet. All that is somewhat refreshing and the head sculpt is a total winner.

He even looks pretty clean from the back, albeit with some unsightly hollow feet. I wish they could have sculpted that disc he had on his back in the Sunbow cartoon, but I guess they needed somewhere to put all that COO and copyright crap.

Unfortunately, I’m having a problem getting past those arms. The bulky and over-sized biceps with those stubby little forearms make for a really bad combination. Do they ruin the figure for me? Yeah, I’m going to have to say they kind of do. Surely they had some engineering to spare that they could have used to fix those things. Instead, what we got feels a little lazy. I know that we’ve seen worse on bigger Transformers in the past, but I feel as if this little guy could have been a total winner if they had just found a way to fix those biceps.

In the end, I would have been totally fine with passing on this figure, but I don’t really mind owning him. I don’t have time or patience for toy hunting like I used to, but the few times I’ve ducked into a toy aisle, none of these Legends were on the pegs. Nope, not even this one, which seems like he should be warming those pegs. That’s Bumblebee’s job isn’t it? Anyway, I just kind of look at it like spending a little extra to get Gnaw and Kickback, and getting Bumblebee tossed in for free. Hey, whatever helps me sleep at night, right? And I probably shouldn’t be too hard on this little guy. I’ve certainly paid more for worse Transformers in my collection. It’s also a little easier to be more forgiving of a Legends Class, both in terms of complexity and price. On the other hand, the previous Legends Bumblebee, while certainly going for a very different style, is also a much better proportioned and engineered figure, so I probably shouldn’t be apologizing for this one.

Transformers Titans Return: Legends Class Kickback by Hasbro

Hooray, it’s the return of Transformers Thursday! And anyone who says, “Oh, but it’s only a Legends Class figure,” watch out because I’m gonna slap your face! I love the Legends Class figures! They’re great fun and I can stuff them in my pocket and take them to work and have robot battles on my desk. I love them even more lately because I have some ginormous robots for them to interact with! And today’s little change-o-bot is even more special, because Kickback finally completes the trio of Legends Class Insecticons, which Hasbro started way back in 2014 with the release of Skrapnel. Bombshell followed in 2015, and here we are in 2017 with Kickback.

Yup, these little fellas span three different lines: Generations, Combiner Wars, and now Titans Return. If I were a mint-on-card collector, this shit would irritate me to no end. Of course, there’s something else about this figure that does that, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Let’s bust him open and start with his insect mode!

Is he a locust, a grasshopper, or a cricket? Don’t look at me, I ain’t no bug scientist! I do, however, hold an honorary degree in toy robot bug appreciationology, and as such I give this alt mode my stamp of supreme approval. In fact, if these wings were painted silver, this Kickback would be a perfect update to the original G1 toy’s bug mode. The black and purple plastic looks fantastic (although he does sport a lot more purple than his G1 namesake) and the additional silver and yellow accents consist of more paint operations than some of the bigger bots get.

And.. OMG, THAT TRANSLUCENT YELLOW CHEST PANEL, I LOVE IT SO MUCH! Also… OMG, THAT TRANSLUCENT YELLOW CHEST PANEL, I HATE IT SO MUCH!!! Yeah, the chest panel really elevates the whole figure tremendously. Unfortunately, it also poops all over the painted chest panels on the other two Legends Insecticons, and it’s that lack of consistency that really… dare I say it? It bugs me! Sure, the gold and yellow chests never matched between Bomshell and Skrapnel anyway, but they were at least somewhat close. Kickback busts the whole deal wide open. The reasoning here might have been to accommodate a Titan Master, but by furthering the inconsistency between the three decos, it it’s also very irritating.

Transforming Kickback feels slightly more involved than it need be, but the results are overall good. In fact, my only real complaint here is the way the wings sit behind the shoulders, rather than be integrated into them. On the flip-side, it does give you the option of sweeping them down instead of up. Us G1 old-timers will likely stick with the up position, but I can see just as many younger fans happy to point them down and out of the way. Other than that, I really am very pleased with this figure. It may not be as clean as the original toy’s robot mode, but I think it skirts that fine line between old and new quite well and the passel of ball joints make him lots of fun to play with.

Rating Kickback on his own, I give him very high marks, and I’m a bit surprised by that, because I’ve heard a lot of people dumping on him. On the other hand, put him with the other Insecticons and the mismatched gold, yellow, and translucent yellow on the decos bothers me more than I wish it did. Because of the designs of Bombshell and Skrapnel, there’s no way to reverse engineer them with the matching translucent yellow parts they deserve. So, if Hasbro or Takara ever does decide to release these three in a more uniform deco, the best I can hope for is a repaint of Kickback’s chest to yellow, and that would be a shame. It would be basically reducing the better figure of the three to match the lesser two.

And so, finally getting Kickback into my collection has been rather bitter-sweet. Yes, it gives me a sense of closure and I think he’s a very good figure, but as soon as this little trio is complete, I find myself longing for another attempt. I feel like these three should have been designed and issued a lot closer together. And considering how much I adore the Insecticons, I find myself tempted to come out of retirement from buying third-party figures, and hunt down one of those sets of unofficial bug-bots.