Transformers Animated: Starscream by Hasbro

Primus be praised! Transformers Thursday has been back in action for more than a couple of weeks now, and with a little luck, I’ll be able to keep it going for quite a while. Yes, I will be getting to some new stuff soon, but indulge me for just another week or so as I look at some recent additions to my TF: Animated collection. Today, I’m checking out Voyager Class Starscream. While the TF:A series had some ups and downs for me, one of the things I enjoyed the most was Tom Kenny’s characterization of Starscream. It took all his smarmy personality from the G1 cartoon and cranked it up to a thousand. Let’s face it, the legendary voice talent of Chris Latta should have been an impossible act to follow, but Kenny stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park. I’ve got no packaged shot, so let’s jump right in and check out his alt mode…

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Yup, he’s a jet, and a damn cool looking one too! This is a fresh and futuristic design, which features forward angled wings and some prominent engine pylons. It’s a new look for the traitorous Seeker, and yet it still manages to carry the homage with details like the yellow cockpit and the intakes flanking it. The coloring is different from what we’re used to seeing. Instead of an off-white he’s a pale purple, but the red striping and accents help drive the homage home just a bit more. There are a few minor things that put me off, like the obvious telescoping nosecone, but all in all, I really dig this mode.

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The undercarriage features three sets of folding landing gear and while the missile launchers have to be pointed back to use them, once he’s in flight, they can be angled forward to a more useful position. They’re not positioned under the wings, like you might expect, but I like their low-slung look here.

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And while it’s not an official third mode, I have to say that Starscream has a killer Gerwalk Mode. It does, however, take some finesse to hold it together. Transforming him all the way into robot mode features some clever stuff, like the nosecone collapsing in to assist in the head reveal. The rest is more or less what we’ve seen before. The real bugger of this figure, however, are all the bits that fall off of him during transformation. The hinged fingers like to pop out, I’ve head the head pop off, and it’s a good idea to unload those missile launchers first because those babies have some hair triggers and can shoot pretty far.

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The end result, however, is pretty sweet and despite the stylized design, it doesn’t stray far from the Starscream we all know and love. Tail fins on the legs? Check! Weapons on the arms? Check! Angled shoulder wings? Gotcha! Cockpit dead center? Yup! About the only thing he’s missing is the shoulder intakes, and they look pretty good on his chest.

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The head sculpt is spot on to his on screen counterpart. And if light-piping in the eyes isn’t enough, you also get it in the mouth too so you can see his disgustingly smug smirk even in the dark.

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Much like G1 Starscream’s null rays, this guy’s missile launchers can be angled up when not in use or flipped down to a firing position. They can, however, get in the way sometimes, so it’s always an option to pull out the missiles entirely. But then, what’s a Decepticon without his weapons, eh?

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While I love this design, playing with Starscream can sometimes be a bitch. For starters, a lot of the bits that fall off of him during transformation will do it when I’m playing with him. Especially those hands! Also, his legs are oddly articulated and feature some unforgiving ratchets. Getting him posed so that he doesn’t look like he’s doing pelvic thrusts can be a lot of work, but a lot of times it’s worth it.

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Voyager Class Starscream is far from a perfect figure. Much like the real Starscream his toy can be a frustrating jerk, but I think there’s more good here than bad. The figure does a nice job bringing the animated style to plastic form, not to mention the engineering of a working Transformer, and that’s something that in my mind should never be underestimated or overlooked about this line. And it feels great to finally have a figure of such a masterful treatment of this character in my collection.

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Transformers Animated: Blurr by Hasbro

Yes, I’m happy to say that Transformers Thursday should be back on track for the rest of the Summer! I’ve got some new stuff rolling in, but before it arrives I’ll be taking some time to look at some older TF: Animated figures that I’ve added to my collection. I originally pulled a bunch of the Animated line out to re-shoot reviews and see if I was still in love with them or willing to let them go to clear up some space. In the end, I wound up buying a bunch of the ones I was missing, so we all know how that went. Today I’m looking at Deluxe Class Blurr. I got him loose, there’s no packaged shot, so let’s jump right into his alt mode.

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One of the things that I loved about TF: Animated was the way it could take a familiar character and take ownership of it without fundamentally changing that character. Blurr is one of many great examples of that. Just look at his car mode. It’s a sleek, futuristic sportscar that takes the original G1 alt mode concept to new heights. It’s both undeniably Blurr and undeniably TF: Animated. Gone are any of the remnants of the boxy G1 aesthetics and they’re replaced with sleek-as-shit curves and angles. I love everything about this car!

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Well, almost everything. The hollow backside is a bit of a letdown…

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…but everything else? It’s poetry in plastic. It’s like a mash-up of Speed Racer and Tron. The dual front pontoons, the light-cycle-like wheels, the rear fins, the rear-view mirrors mounted on the roof! Toss into that the killer deco consisting of the traditional Blurr colors of powder blue, dark blue, and a little mint. The black painted windshield and side windows looks great as does the Cybertron Defense Force emblem stamped on the hood. This alt mode is a winner!

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The robot mode does that seemingly impossible thing that TF: Animated loves to pull off with ease. It takes a super stylized robot and turns it into a working Transformer. Blurr is so lanky, he’s almost creepy, with his super slim legs and clever wheeled, but not-wheeled, feet. His tall super-tall shoulders give him a distinctive profile. Most of the car elements are on display, but he doesn’t look like the engineering should work. Yeah, part of that is because a sizable piece is removed, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

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From the back, Blurr’s robot mode is just as tight. There’s an angled car plate behind his head, but otherwise, all the car kibble is absorbed into his lean, runner’s body. The only real blemish here are the exposed screws on the back, and let’s be honest, Hasbro is often content advertising those on the front of Transformers, so I’m not about to complain about them here.

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And that portrait! Once again, Animated Blurr is still Blurr. The head sculpt is perfect, sports some spiffy light piping in the eyes, and also features his trademark fin.

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If only everything about this figure were as great as Petro-Rabbits and Cyber-Kittens. But no, my biggest gripe is the way the hood comes off to form his “weapon.” Hasbro, if you’re going to pull off a big piece from the alt mode at least make it a good weapon. This is his Energon Blade and it sucks. It’s sort of reminiscent of the hood shield from G1 Blurr, but I’m not really buying it. I would never display him with it, so what do I do with it? Toss it in a tote with other unwanted accessories? Can’t do that, because what if I want to change him back to his car mode. You see my dilemma?  And yet, I still feel a little guilty for complaining about something similar to what the original toy did.

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To a lesser extent, I find Blurr’s articulation a little problematic. The legs are fine, but those arms can dampen the fun somewhat. The big shoulders tend to get in the way of his head, but you can still get some nice running poses out of him and he does have a waist swivel.

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Blurr is undoubtedly one of my favorite characters from the Movie and Post-Movie cast. I don’t think my love for him had a lot to do with how he talked or that he could run fast, but I just really liked his animation design and wished that the G1 toy could have pulled it off. This one is admittedly not striving for that G1 look, but it captures the same essence of that design for me and I love him for that. I’m really looking forward to the Titans Return version to see if it can replace this guy as my favorite incarnation of beloved Blurr.

Transformers Animated: Ratchet by Hasbro

As promised, I’m back with the second half of a Transformers Thursday double-feature. Hopefully this helps to make up for the lack of contend lately. Tonight I’m checking out Ratchet from the TF: Animated line, a Deluxe sized figure that I’ve had for a while, but never found his way into the spotlight. I’ve got no packaged shot, so I’m going to dive right in to check out his alt mode.

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And I am not really digging it all that much, and for a number of reasons, but mostly because it’s rather f’ugly. The off-white, almost gray, plastic does nothing for me and even when coupled with the burgundy, I’m just not a fan of this deco. The paint is pretty rough too, with some sloppy lines and it’s a shade or two off from matching the colored plastic that it’s supposed to. There’s also some annoying scratches on the roof, which is yet another example of some of the poor QC that reared it’s ugly head on several of my figures from this line. Toss in a lot of ugly seaming, and those big hinges on the sides, and there’s just not a lot to love here.

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The translucent blue plastic used for the windshield, lightbar, and rear lights is nice. The Autobot emblem printed on the hood is cool. At least Hasbro slapped some yellow paint apps on the headlamps, those are all pluses. But then you get some more really sloppy paint on what I assume is supposed to be a tow winch on the front, and the painted blue windows on the side doors is another turn off for me. Ratchet’s alt mode is also pretty small, especially if you park him next to Bumblebee. Let’s see if the robot mode can save this figure…

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OK, not bad. I definitely like the way the front of the vehicle forms the chest. G1 Skids would approve! The proportions aren’t bad, and I love the he forms a backpack that can hold his tools. The only thing I’m not fond of here are the huge panels jutting up off his shoulders. A couple of simple swivels would have been nice to swing these down and make them look less cumbersome. They weren’t nearly that bad in the animated model.

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The coloring doesn’t bother me as much here either, probably because we get a lot more of that burgundy paint and plastic. Although, you can still get a good look at all that scratching on his backpack. It’s disappointing that he came right out of the package like that.

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The head sculpt is solid and a good representation of his cartoon counterpart. I like that they kept the one cracked horn. He looks appropriately grumpy too.

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Ratchet has a few accessories and play gimmicks. Firstly, he has these fold-out implements in his arms. I can’t remember whether these were weapons or tools, but I suppose they could be used for either. They’d probably come in handy for rock climbing too.

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And you also get a bunch of tools, which clip into his backpack, and which can be clipped into his hands as well. These are a really cool idea and give the figure a lot of added personality.

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Yeah, Animated Ratchet is a mixed bag. His alt mode is disappointing on a number of levels, but I think the robot mode is more than enough to redeem him, at least in my eyes. He’s fun and he looks great alongside the rest of the Autobots. If you haven’t checked out my other Transformers: Animated features, I have finished re-shooting all of them. Unfortunately, while I set out on this endeavor with the hopes that I would feel comfortable unloading my TF: Animated collection to make some room and generate some cash for other figures on my want list, things didn’t go as planned. Not only have I decided to keep these toys, I now feel a burning need to pick up some of the others I’m missing. So don’t be surprised if we see more of these guys popping up on Transformers Thursdays in the near future.

Transformers Animated: Bumblebee by Hasbro

It’s no secret that I’ve been hard up for content for Transformers Thursdays, but today I’ve got a little compensation to offer in the form of a Transformers: Animated double feature. This past weekend I had my Animated collection out to do some re-shoots for their old Features and I realized that neither Bumblebee nor Ratchet ever had their due. I did a little digging to find out why, and found that I started the Features for these figures, but never finished them. I’m going to look at Bumblebee this morning and then swing on back later this evening with a look at Ratchet. I’ve got no packaged shot to offer, so let’s jump right into Bumblebee’s alt mode…

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In keeping with modern tradition of making Bumblebee a little yellow sportscar, that’s exactly what we get here. The yellow plastic looks pretty good and even the transparent windshield pieces that have parts painted yellow match the base coloring pretty well. There’s an off-center black stripe running down the top of the car, and because Bee modeled himself after Captain Fanzone’s car, he has a little police light on top. Other paint apps include the red tail lights, some very faint metallic paint on the headlamps, and a silver Autobot insignia on the driver side of the rear bumper. Naturally, there are some unsightly seams on the car, but overall, I dig this alt mode.

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Bumblebee comes with two rocket boosters that can peg into the rear sides. These attachments look like adorable, bloated atom bombs and feature some nice silver paint and translucent blue plastic.

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Bumblebee’s robot mode is still an amazing sight to see, because it manages to produce such a creatively stylized robot figure out of a working Transformer. That’s something this line has generally been terrific at, but I think that goes double for Bumblebee because his proportions in the cartoon are so unconventional. Sure, the entire chest is a fake-out. The plates that make up the top of the car wind up on the back of the figure, but c’mon… this is still great stuff!

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Despite all that car shell winding up on the Bumblebee’s back and lower legs, these pieces are neatly tucked away, so you don’t get a lot of ugly kibble. Plus, the plates on the backs of his legs serve as heel spurs. The modest backpack tabs together and acts as a storage for his bombs, which when attached make for a cool jetpack.

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I suppose, if I had to nitpick something here it would be the feet. They look disjointed where they connect to the leg, so they’re not quite as clean as they could be, but when the rest of this figure looks so damn good, I can give them an easy pass.

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The head is just fantastic. It captures all the personality of Bumblebee in the cartoon and serves up some very effective light piping for the eyes. I really liked this look for him, especially with the tiny little horns. Mine has a little scrape on his chin, but otherwise the paint is solid.

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All this and solid articulation too? Yup. Bee features a satisfying array of both ball joints and hinges, making him a truly fun figure to play with and pose. Surprisingly, the rather large door plates on his forearms don’t really get in the way of the fun.

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Bumblebee does have one little play gimmick. He has two translucent pieces folded into his arms that can deploy and connect to form an energy weapon. I don’t remember this from the series, but it’s been ages since I’ve watched it, and I never saw the whole thing. I recently got a good deal on the whole series on DVD, so I’m going to start going through it next week.

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I was a little apprehensive about looking at these figures for the first time, so long after the fact. I find that a lot of older “modern” Transformers haven’t held up for me all that well and that’s why I’ve unloaded a lot of my Cybertron and Energon toys. Plus, it took a while for me to warm up to this style. I wasn’t fully on board until I had some of the toys in hand. I had originally taken these guys out of storage to photograph with the hopes that I could justify parting with them and generating some space and cash for other things on my want list, but that just hasn’t been the case. I still have a soft spot in my heart for this line in general, and I think Bumblebee is among Animated’s best figures.

Transformers Animated: Swindle by Hasbro

Transformers Thursdays have been slim pickings these days. I’m awaiting the release of Unite Warriors Bruticus and arrival of my Deluxe Groove, I’m still mulling over whether to pick up MP Shockwave, and maybe one day I’ll finally buy the Leader Class Skywarp that’s been languishing on the shelf at Target. But today it just so happens that I did pick up a Transformer last week, thanks to a hook up on Twitter. It’s been a long time coming, but I finally added TF: Animated Swindle to my collection, which just about completes my Deluxes for this series. I bought him loose, so no package shot. Instead, I’ll jump right in and have a look at his alt mode.

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The Consensus seems to be that modern Swindle should be a Humvee and that is indeed what the TF:A version is. While this series favors highly stylized vehicles, Swindle’s actually looks fairly normal. Swindle has a few sculpted panel lines, but that’s about it, and there is some rather unsightly mold flashing on his driver side quarter panel near the hood. There’s also very little in the way of paint apps. He gets by mostly with tan colored plastic. The front grill and windshield are both a rather striking translucent purple and the side windows are painted purple to match, albeit rather unconvincingly. A little black plastic trim, black wheels, some shockingly pink headlamps, and he’s good to go. Oh yeah, he also has that glorious Decepticon emblem stamped right on his hood.

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Swindle comes with his rather large blaster, which can peg right into his roof and give him the extra firepower that any respectable Decepticon demands. You can also plug it into the side, but I prefer it as a top cannon. The fit is disappointingly loose, but to make up for that it can fire a missile. Transforming Swindle is just satisfying enough for a Deluxe and holds a few fun surprises, like the way his hands come together to form the hood. There’s some clever plate shifting there and the resulting robot form is pretty damn sweet.

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Yes, one of the most remarkable things about this line is the way the toys were able to mimic those highly stylized animated designs and still work as functional Transformers. Swindle is a nice approximation of his animated counterpart. I should note that the back panels can be positioned in a few different ways and I like to mix it up. I think they look better sticking out to the sides, but that can get in the way of aiming his arm cannon, so it helps to be able to point them upward. There’s some fun stuff going on here, like his rather large, albeit somewhat impractical, claw hands and I really dig the appearance of even more of that translucent purple plastic. The way the tires make up the bottoms of his feet is pretty cool too. Also note, the detailing on the lower torso is the front of the vehicle mode faked out.  If I had one gripe about Swindle’s design is that his chest is just a little too close to the iconic look of Optimus Prime for my taste.

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But then I look at that face, and how can I not love him? Swindle features some giant eyes with some lovely purple light-piping and a smarmy grin that totally suits the character. One thing even the detractors of T:FA must admit, these robots had a lot of personality.

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The arm cannon is awkwardly large, but that’s not to say he can’t aim it. Once again, I wish it stayed on better. I might have to pop a little glob of blue tack into that hole to better seal the deal. Oh yeah, if the giant arm cannon isn’t getting the job done, Swindle has a little surprise hidden in his chest…

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Say hello to my leetle friend! Yes, he has a flip out gatling gun. A little lower and he’d really have something to brag about! I actually didn’t know about this gimmick going in and it was a pretty neat surprise. 

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One of these days I need to go back and revisit the TF: Animated line. I was a little worried about how well this figure would hold up after jonesing after it for so long and there being so much time between now and when I was collecting these figures back in 2008. Turns out, I dig this guy a lot and I even had some fun with Lugnut and Oil Slick when I pulled them out for a little group shot. Animated was one of those queer little detours in what passes for a Transformers continuity that I was fine with at the time, so long as I knew a more traditional line was lurking around the corner. These are clever designs and ultimately fun toys, but given my inability to get into the current Robots in Disguise line, I don’t know how receptive I would be if this line released now. I do know that I’m a little more motivated now to take stock of what I have and maybe pick up the last TF:A figures that I’m missing!

Transformers Animated: Oil Slick by Hasbro

Just a couple more TF:A Deluxe figures to look at and I’ll be all caught up. Today is all about the very cool Decepticon motorcycle, Oil Slick. Was he ever in the cartoon? I don’t know. Granted, there are still a lot of episodes I haven’t seen, but I don’t recall ever seeing him in the ones I have watched.

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Oil Slick comes carded in his motorcycle mode with his two barrels mounted off and below the figure. Yep. Not much else to say here.

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His motorcycle mode is a crazy looking evil chopper with a ram skull mounted on the handlebars. I love the design of this thing. The wheels are doubled, which give him added stability to stand. There are spikes running up and down the front and he’s got some cool tattoo-like designs painted on his gas tank. The back portion has removable saddle-bagged barrels, which I assume he can drop off like mines, which is a pretty damn cool idea. It’s a fine looking bike, apart from the colors that just remind me of various shades of barf. It’s not the most attractive toy around, but hey, he’s a Decepticon. The ram horns and handlebars are made of a really soft plastic, which I’m not crazy about, but so far they don’t seem to be real prone to warping.

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For a motorcycle Transformer, Oil Slick has an amazingly clean and kibble-free robot mode. He’s very well proportioned and free of unsightly clutter. Most of his bike bits pack well onto his shoulders and lower legs. Even his saddlebag barrels peg onto his feet without really getting in the way. I also love his huge claw-like hands. I’d love to see Oil Slick get the same reworking as Lockdown got and see him with a more realistically styled sculpt for Generations. His design just really is that good.

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His head sculpt is pretty unique, as his head is encased under a translucent sickly-green bubble. It’s odd, but delightfully original and gives him a lot of character.

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Oil Slick’s articulation is solid. His head rotates and can even bob up and down a bit as a result of his transformation. His arms have ball joints in the shoulders and hinged elbows. His legs are ball jointed at the hips and hinged at the knees. He’s a really poseable and fun figure. The back panel of the cards actually shows a real metal chain for the weapon, but in reality it’s just a plastic chain, but it still works fine.

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One of Oil Slick’s barrels open up, so you can put something in it. I recommend lighter fluid so you can set it ablaze and toss it at one of your Autobots. [Kids, please do not fill your toys with lighter fluid and set them on fire. -FF] The other one pulls apart and forms a flail weapon that pegs into his hand. The photo on the back panel of the card shows the chain as being metal, but in reality it’s just made up of plastic links. It’s still really cool, though and adds a lot of fun to the figure.

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It’s crazy how many times I passed on Oil Slick when I saw him on the pegs. He’s one of those figures that never impressed me on the card, but when I got him in hand, I was totally blown away by what a cool figure he actually is. He’s definitely one of the better motorcycle Transformers I’ve seen in a long time and well worth picking up.

Transformers Animated: Soundwave by Hasbro

Slowly I’m chipping away at the pile of TF Animated figures that I’ve picked up over the last few weeks. I’ve commited myself to opening all of these by the end of the week, so I should be caught up soon. Today we’re looking at Soundwave. He’s one of my favorite characters in the G1 continuity and as for Animated… well, he makes an appearance, doesn’t he? Let’s see what we got going on here.

Standard Animated packaging. Soundwave comes packaged in his auto mode. Yes AUTO mode. We haven’t seen a proper Soundwave toy in ages and all of the sudden he gets the auto mode treatment no less than three times (I’m counting War For Cybertron and the Stealth Forces line). He comes with his huge surfboard-sized guitar mounted on his rooftop, because there’s absolutely nothing conspicuous about that, is there? The back of the card has the usual bio blurb. I actually did get to see the episode of TFA that introduced Soundwave. Too bad they turned him into something of a joke. But I try to take the series with a grain of salt.


I do like Soundwave’s SUV mode, mainly because it’s just loaded with homages to his G1 tape deck mode. There’s a power button pattern on his roof and the sides are made to resemble cassettes. He has black painted windows and a gold Decepticon logo on the hood. The gold buttons on his grill are clearly an homage to G1 Soundwave’s cassette mode and the light aqua colored detailing makes him look a bit like a Tron vehicle. The roof has a place to peg the guitar in, although it really does look pretty silly and out of place there. At least we have somewhere to store it, though. Soundwave makes for a solid vehilcle, holds together really well and rolls along great.

Despite his SUV alt mode, Soundwave has a lot of his G1 tape deck features in his robot mode. This stuff is mostly on his chest, complete with an opening tape door and the buttons under it. His head sculpt is also most definitely reminiscent of the Soundwave we all know and love. Unfortunately, Soundwave is pretty tiny and despite his familiar design, it’s hard to take him very seriously with these proportions.

For a little guy, Soundwave has decent articulation. His head turns. His arms rotate and have lateral movement in the shoulders. His elbows are hinged and have ball joints leading into the forearms. His legs have ball joints in the hips and hinges and swivels in the knees.

Soundwave’s huge guitar transforms into Laserbeak. It isn’t much of a transformation, as the back half of him is still just the guitar’s neck. It’s a cool idea, but it could have used just a bit more tweaking in the design to make it really worthwhile. Soundwave has indentations in his arms to allow Laserbeak to peg into.

By all reason I should hate this figure, but I find myself kind of digging him. The homage is decent enough in robot form and it’s nice to see Soundwave with a modern, useful alt mode. It’s a totally silly figure, not at all to be taken seriously. If you can embrace that fact, then you might learn to love him as much as I did.

Transformers Animated: Snarl by Hasbro

Why is it that Hasbro can’t give us a full set of proper Dinobots in any of the modern continuities? In Energon we got that crappy Grimlock and Swoop combiner. Prior to that we got those terrible Walmart Universe two-packs. Now, in Animated we got Snarl, Swoop and Grimlock, but no Slag or Sludge. Well, that sad fact has nothing to do with the particular figure we’re looking at today, Deluxe Class Snarl from Animated, but alas I’m not terribly fond of this figure, so I thought I might as well start with a bitch-fest and keep it going.

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You get the standard Deluxe carded package with Snarl carded in his dino mode. First problem: He’s a Deluxe. I don’t think the Dinobots should ever be produced smaller than the Voyager Class. Maybe Swoop… maybe. Now, keep in mind, I’m not saying I’d want to see this figure produced larger, but I think if they started off as a Voyager, it would have been a better designed figure. I guess it makes sense that Grimlock is the leader so he’s bigger, but Snarl is just waaaay too small to be a proper Dinobot in my eyes. At the very least, he should have been a much beefier Deluxe.

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Apart from his size, I actually don’t have a lot of issues with Snarl’s dino mode. Yeah, the top of his head is obviously peeping out the middle of his back, but that doesn’t bother me all that much. At least you can’t see his face. This dino is that crazy mix of angles and contours that matches Grimlock fairly well. His legs have some decent movement too making him a pretty fun little Dino. He has a silly little spring loaded flame-armor gimmick that pops out of his shoulders, but it’s not much to write home about. The coloring is pretty good. As with Grimlock, Snarl’s deco mostly makes use of gray colored plastic with a fair amount of black thrown in. The gray is notably darker than Grimlocks, but it’s close enough. You also get some of that lovely gold paint.

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I am rather torn on the dino head. The translucent red horns are cool, but I don’t like the beak. It looks like he’s been dipping his nose into the… wait for it… JAM! There it is. The huge exposed screwhead in the side of the face doesn’t help and the gray paint on the crest that surrounds his face was pretty scuffed up right out of the package. And then there’s the robot mode…

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Ugh. Where to begin. Well, I’ll start by throwing out a compliment. This bot mode matches the Animated aesthetic quite nicely. As for the rest? Well, let’s start with his size. Putting aside what I said about Dinobots shouldn’t be Deluxes in my eyes, this guy is even short for a Deluxe. He makes up for his height a bit with his stocky frame, but still… he’s shorter than Bumblebee for crying out loud! I do like the fact that his dino head forms his chest, that’s very Beast Wars-y of them, but it sticks out really far and totally obscures his face if you’re looking dead on at him. I wouldn’t want to walk around with that albatross hanging off the front of me.

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His head sculpt has personality in spades, I love it, but I literally had to fold down his whole dino-head-chest, just to get a shot of it. It’s also sunken in the center of that raised ring. It feels like you should be able to grab the head and pull it up, but nope. That’s the only position and as far out as it comes.

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The articulation is decent enough, but his stocky build gets in the way of a lot of pose-ability. There’s not a lot of range of motion in those elbows and no lateral movement in the shoulders. He can get a pretty wide stance thanks to the ball joints in his hips, but the hips themselves always come un-tabbed when I’m playing with him, and that gets annoying.

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Snarl comes with an energon club, which is basically just an elongated blob of translucent orange plastic. I actually kind of like it, because it’s a futuristic energy-based weapon based on basically the most primitive weapon design you can imagine. For some reason that just makes me smile. Afterall, he’s a Dinobot, so his weapons should be based on cave man weapons, right?

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Am I being too hard on this little guy? Am I missing out in the fun and whimsical spirit of TF: Animated? Maybe. Overall, I think Animated Grimlock turned out so well, Hasbro missed an opportunity to follow through on the others in a similar manner. I don’t hate this figure. I’ve certainly spent ten bucks in worse ways. But he just has a bunch of nagging issues that keep him from being solid. I suppose there’s still a chance for more Dinobots in the Generations line, and yeah we still have those Dinobot Power Core Combiners coming, but it’s just not the same. Maybe I’m just going to have to hunt down the original G1 Dinobot toys again and get my satisfaction that way.

*This Feature was updated with new photos on 6/12/16.

Transformers Animated: Autobot Jazz by Hasbro

I’ve been going a little nuts snapping up Deluxe Class figures from the Transformers Animated line. I guess I decided I should get them before they disappear from retailers all together, which seems to be happening everywhere now. Jazz was one of the last figures I thought I would pick up, because the photos of the toy didn’t impress me at all. Turns out, though, he really surprised me and has quickly become one of my favorites.

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Standard TF Animated package. The bio blurb claims Jazz is a ninja, which would explain why he has the weapons he has. I only recall seeing him once on the show, but then there are a lot of episodes I haven’t seen. He comes packaged in vehicle mode, so let’s start there.

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Jazz’s car mode is a perfect blend between G1 homage and new super-stylized design. It’s what I would call future-retro. I never really got the full flavor of this car design from the product images, and it’s so much better in person with some really cool details. The fins with tail lights in the back and the elongated sideview mirrors are my favorite points of interest, and the overall contours of the body are just so damn distinctive. Also, check out the exhaust pipes on the sides, those pull out to become his weapons in robot mode!

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I’m not usually a big fan of painted windows on my Transformers, but the black looks really good here, as it’s glossy and actually not all scratched up right out of the package. Those giant translucent blue headlamps are great, the hood striping is sharp, and I love the Cybertron Defense Force style Autobot insignia on the hood. The only issue with the coloring on my figure is a weird yellowish patch on the driver side, just above the front bumper.

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Transforming Jazz isn’t all that complex, but it does do some clever things, like folding the front wheels so they’re diagonally tucked under his chest. Overall, the conversion process is like a simplified version of the Classics/Universe 2.0 Prowl, only much better executed. Basically, what we have here is a stylized version of the iconic G1 Autobot Car with the bumper making up the chest.

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The head sculpt is cool, with a very elongated face, some simple gray and black paint, and a blue visor.

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Jazz has great articulation. His head is ball jointed. His arms have ball joints and swivels on his shoulders and hinged elbows. His legs have ball joints in his hips and hinges in the knees. It doesn’t sound like a lot of individual points, but it works out just fine and makes for a fun and pose-able figure.

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One of my favorite things about Jazz is the ingenuity of his weapons. Pull out the end pieces of his exhaust pipes and you get two pairs of nun-chucks, each joined with a short piece of string. The way the weapons clip together and store on the vehicle in plain sight is just really neat. I didn’t even know they were there when I got the figure out and started transforming him. I always love when the weapons are designed to store in the auto mode, but this design is particularly great.

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So, Animated Jazz was a really nice surprise. I hadn’t planned to pick him up at all, but I’m gradually learning to appreciate what the Animated toys have to offer, particularly among the Deluxes. These are some solid and super fun figures with clever engineering and do an amazing job of capturing the super stylized look of the Animated characters. But just to show that the door swings both ways, next time we’ll look at an Animated Deluxe figure that left me rather cold.

Transformers Animated: Rodimus Minor by Hasbro

Transformers Animated is all but dead in the US now, but Hasbro is still tossing collectors a few bones by way of some Toys R Us Exclusives. So far, the retailer has brought us Cybertronian Ratchet and Ironhide, Arcee and now Rodimus Minor. Primus knows, I’m not the biggest Rodimus fan around, but I usually like the figures and homages to the character so when this figure turned up on the TRU website, I decided to grab him, rather than regret not getting him and having to go after him on Ebay later like I’ll probably be doing with Arcee.

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Rodimus comes on the standard Animated style card. He’s packaged in his vehicular mode and he has his bow-weapon mounted next to him on the card. The only thing separating the packaging from the wide release figures is an “Only At TRU” sticker on the bubble. The back panel shows off photos of the toy in both modes and has a short bio blurb. I haven’t seen any of the episodes of the show with Rodimus in it, so I’ll just have to take the biography at its word.

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Roddy’s vehicle mode is a futuristic (Cybertronian?) speedster. Or a Hot Rod, perhaps? The design and color scheme is very reminiscent of past incarnations of the character. The body is mostly a deep crimson with gold flames on the hood and a gold, exaggerated spoiler on the back. He’s got a grey exposed engine poking through the hood and grey exhaust pipes flanking the rear quarter panels on each side. The wraparound windshield is translucent blue and looks really nice. I just have a couple of quibbles here, one pertaining to the design and one the quality. The big vacant hole in the back of the car irks me a bit. It feels like something should go in there, like Classics Rodimus’ weapon did, but nope. That’s not the case here. The other issue are the scratches on my figure’s hood. I haven’t had the best of luck with QC on my Animated figures and Rodimus here is yet another unfortunate example of that. There’s some faded areas in the glittery paint that makes up his flames and there’s some scratching and rubbing on the plastic. It’s not terrible, but if I hadn’t removed this figure from a sealed package, I would swear that it had been played with. None of this shows up all that well in the photos, but take my word for it, it’s there.

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Transforming Rodimus is fairly simple, although there are a few steps that require a bit of precision. I found getting him back into vehicle mode a lot more difficult, particularly when trying to get the arms and hands positioned just right so that the car would lock together. There’s some nifty stuff here, like the way his lower legs snap are ever so slightly hinged to straighten out in robot mode. Or the way the engine flips to reveal his Autobot symbol… that’s just brilliant.

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In robot mode, Roddy is a perfect super-stylized homage to his G1 self, from the spoiler angled up behind his head, right down to the exhaust pipes on the backs of his arms. In addition to his base crimson plastic, he shows off some lighter orange parts in his legs and arms, which fits the original toy very well. Even from the back he’s very clean looking. It seems like there should be a way to store his bow on his back, but I haven’t been able to figure it out. Either I’m missing something or it’s just a huge missed opportunity in the design.

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I really dig the head sculpt too, I think it’s among the better ones featured in this line and the light piping gimmick looks great. It even looks like he’s got irises in there. It’s just beautiful!

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Roddy’s articulation includes a ball jointed neck, arms with ball joints in the shoulders, elbows with a hinge and ball joint and ball jointed wrists; and legs with ball joints in the hips, hinged elbows and ball jointed ankles. His joints are nice and tight and you can get him into a lot of cool poses.

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Rodimus includes a double-barreled bow type weapon, which he can hold in either hand and fires off two missiles. It looks cool, but sadly it doesn’t store anywhere in his vehicle mode, and while it’s hard to complain about getting a cool weapon, extra parts are something I’m not really down with when it comes to Transformers.

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Besides being an exclusive, TRU jacked the price on Rodimus Minor, bringing him up to $14.99, as opposed to the rest of the Animated Deluxe figures, which retailed closer to $10. I will concede that he is more complex a figure than most of the other Animated Deluxes that I own, and when you factor in  the bigger weapon, I suppose you are getting something a little extra for the extra money. I would definitely recommend him to TFA collectors, or even anyone who is just a fan of Rodimus. He ranks up there as one of my absolute favorites in this line.