Transformers Classics: Mirage by Hasbro

It seems like forever since my last Transformers Thursday and that’s because holidays and other real life nonsense got in the way the last couple of weeks. Today I’m trying to get things back on track and I decided to dig deep into the glorious TOTE OF C.H.U.G. to see what I could draw forth. After a couple of tries getting figures I already covered, I finally wound up with Classics Mirage. Excellent! The packaging was thrown away sometime back in 2006, so let’s get started with his alt mode!

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I have a special fondness in my heart for the original Hasbro toy. For some reason I could never get him in the stores, but my friend had him and I worked out a trade for some odds and ends from my own toys. I think he got my Clash of the Titans Perseus and Pegasus out of the deal. I loved Mirage in the cartoon and I thought the vintage toy was fantastic, so I was willing to do whatever needed to be done to get him. Keeping true to his G1 origins, Classics Mirage is a blue and white Formula-1 racer and a pretty good one at that. He’s sleeker than the original car mode with better contours and he’s just all around less stocky. He also has a fully enclosed translucent blue canopy.

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While the sculpt is certainly detailed enough, it’s all the paint and tampos that make this car really shine in my eyes. Mirage is sporting his familiar racing number “26” on the front and sides as well as other markings like, “F.P. Racing” and the lovely “Whitwicky Sparkplugs” on the spoiler. The blue and white deco looks great and there’s a little silver paint thrown in on the front axle and suspension. And you also get that rub sign with the retro goodness baked right in.

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Mirage has one of the more unique transformations of the Classics line and it results in what is easily the most creative re-imagining of a G1 character in Classics. Some may take issue with the fact that the front of the car is removed and re-purposed as a gun, but I’d hardly call it parts-forming. I’ll be honest, I hated this figure when I first got it all those years ago and I regarded it as the black sheep of my Classics collection. But, I chalk that up to being younger and foolish. Sure, I do wish the designers could have bulked out the torso a little bit more, but either way when I pick up this figure today I find myself having a whole lot of affection for it. Maybe a hinge and swivel to move those wheels from behind his head and relocate them to bulk out his torso would have been cool, but as it stands, I’ve certainly grown to love him.

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Classics Mirage is lanky and possibly a wee bit creepy in his proportions and I think that’s kind of neat. He served the Autobots in the capacity of spy, so it seems appropriate that he should be slight of build and super agile looking. I can still understand my reluctance to embrace this guy. He’s a far cry from the boxy G1 Transformers we all know and love, and Classics was, after all, meant to be a love letter to the fans of those days. Had the engineering focused more on tweaking what the original toy offered, I think we could have gotten something more familiar, but then we would have also lost this really distinctive looking robot. The head sculpt, as tiny as it is, is pretty fantastic. They definitely nailed Mirage’s G1 look and even though the head sits in the middle of the torso it still features a nice degree of articulation.

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Speaking of articulation… what’s also cool about Mirage is that despite his weird proportions, he’s wonderfully solid action figure and tons of fun to play with. The arms feature ball jointed shoulders and double hinged elbows. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and the feet are ball jointed. He has a ball joint in his neck and he can even swivel at that tiny waist of his.

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Mirage’s gun is possibly a bit of a reach. It’s pretty obvious that it’s the front of the car and there’s nothing about it that harkens back to the original toy’s gun, which is a shame, but it still works fine to me. Honestly, I find the absence of his shoulder rocket a lot more conspicuous than the new gun design.

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I have no memory of how this figure was received back in the day, but I can remember being tempted to unload mine on Ebay a few times and I’m sure glad I didn’t as he’s become one of my favorite figures in the Classics line. He’s certainly aged better than the Classics Datsun mold. This guy has been repainted by both Hasbro and Takara more than a few times, and it still bugs me that I don’t own the Dragstrip version because I think it works really well as that character. In the meantime, playing around with Classics Mirage made me realize how badly I want a Masterpiece version of this guy, but I reckon Hound is still number one on my MP want list.

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Transformers Universe 2.0: Sunstreaker by Hasbro

Ah, it’s Thursday again and time to sit around the campfire and talk about little plastic robots that turn into other little plastic things. As promised last week I’ve gone to my Transformers laden shelves and snatched down the other half of the Lambor Brothers… Sunstreaker! I mentioned last time that the Universe 2.0 Sideswipe-Sunstreaker duo was the first time I can remember Hasbro deliberately engineering a mold to serve different transformations for different characters. It’s a practice that they’ve had a lot of success with since, one of my favorites being the Tracks and Wheeljack shared mold that still blows my mind. I’ve got no in-package shot, so let’s go right to the alt mode!!

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And there he is in all his canary yellow Lamborghini goodness! As a kid, I loved Sunstreaker. He had a totally unique robot mode and there was just something so cool about him that my other Autobots always wanted him to go on missions with him. I think I also might have considered him to be Bumblebee’s older brother just because they were both yellow and that’s how such things work in robot biology when you’re 10 years old. Where was I?

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Oh yeah, this bitchin Lamborghini mode! Sunstreaker’s sculpt is identical to his brother Sideswipe, so we’re only dealing with a recolor here. Also, like Sideswipe, ‘Streaker gets by with very little paintwork and mostly colored plastic. Anyone who’s read my Transformers features before probably knows that the yellow plastic Hasbro uses is often hit or miss with me. In this case, however, it’s a total hit. This is no shitty cheap looking swirly yellow plastic. It’s vibrant and looks amazing. Just compare this guy to the recent IDW Generations Bumblebee or better yet TF: Prime Deluxe Bumblebee and you’ll see what I mean. Once again, I dig that there aren’t a lot of seams running all over the car. Apart from the doors you just have one seam running down the back and bisecting the rear. You still have those great clear plastic headlights, the windows retain the same black paint used for Sideswipe, but unlike his brother, Sunstreaker proudly displays his Autobot emblem in auto mode, right on the top of the roof. Right on, Sunstreaker! Be proud of your Autobot heritage!

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Sunstreaker also sports a personalized license plate, in this case it reads“WE R 84.” It’s cool, but I think an abbreviation of Sunstreaker would have matched Sideswipe better. Honestly, the only real complaint I have with the coloring here is that the intakes on the engine piece are left bare grey plastic and don’t look as sharp as the painted ones on Sideswipe. Even so, these two cars look great together!

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Transforming Sunstreaker is virtutally identical to Sideswipe. The main difference is that you’ll be reversing the torso and arms. In my Sideswipe feature, I probably commented on how much I love the engineering here, but let me say it again anyway. Everything packs in to the auto mode so beautifully and converting the figure in either direction is engaging and fun. The result is the same design as Sideswipe from the waist down, but a new look for the torso and obviously a brand new head sculpt.

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Once again, Hasbro did a beautiful job with the updated portrait, but that was par for the course on the Classics and Universe 2.0 lines. These along with Generations have had some of my favorite head sculpts of all time. The face is beautifully sculpted and neatly painted and Sunstreaker features rather distinctive “ears” similar to the ones on the original G1 toy. I also like the way they spring out during his head reveal.

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The deco here is basically Sideswipe with a pallet shift. You get the yellow in place of red and grey plastic in place of white, with much of the black staying the same. Sunstreaker features the same translucent blue plastic inlays on his thighs, which look great, but I can’t help but think it would have been neat to see those cast in yellow instead. As with his engine intakes, the only gripe I have here is that Sideswipe’s pistol is left in bare grey plastic, which isn’t as attractive as his brother’s snazzy black and white weapon. Considering how vain he is about his appearance, I would expect Sunstreaker to have more bling on his gun.

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Sunstreaker is an amazing figure all on his own, but both he and Sideswipe are all the more impressive when displayed as a pair. Yes, there’s a lot more similarities between the two this time around than could be found in their G1 toys, but I still can’t help but admire what Hasbro was able to achieve here with what is essentially the same mold. This pair definitely rank in among my favorite of all the Classics/Universe 2.0 figures. To me they achieve everything that this line set out to accomplish.

Transformers Universe 2.0: Sideswipe by Hasbro

Until some new Generations start showing up in my area I’m going to continue to spend Thursdays looking backward through the Classics/Universe 2.0 line. Today’s random grab off of my shelf is none other than that sexy red Lamborghini Sideswipe. I haven’t really looked at this figure since Sideswipe got the Masterpiece treatment so it should be interesting to see if this toy still holds up. As is often the case with these older figures, I’ve got no in-package shot, so let’s jump straight to his alt mode.

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After being revamped for the Bay movies as a silver Corvette it’s nice to see him in his original red Lamborghini mode again. I can’t remember whether or not Hasbro actually got the license and my knowledge of Lamborghini models isn’t intimate enough to tell whether or not this is the real deal, but it sure looks close enough for me. Not only does Sideswipe’s alt mode look great, it’s impressive how few seam lines it has. Apart from what you would normally find on the doors, there’s just a single seam running down the back. Not too shabby at all!

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The alt mode does not feature a whole lot of paintwork, but the economy of colors works fine. The bulk of the car is molded in a pleasing red with just a few areas where you can see some swirly patterns in the plastic. You get some red stripes on the sides, a few yellow paint hits near the front and painted black windows. The rear of the car is painted black and you get a customized license plat that reads, “SWIPE!” The entire package is rounded out by some nice looking silver wheels, clear plastic headlamps, and a removable engine pegged into the top. All in all, this car mode looks great and locks together beautifully. I’d say it holds up wonderfully. The only thing I think he’s missing is a nice big Autobot insignia centered on the hood.

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And just for the hell of it, here’s a peek at the undercarriage. Look at that! That is one well-packed Transformer. It also gives plenty of clearance for rolling the car and it even includes storage for the gun!

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In his robot mode, Sideswipe represents the same mix of original design influenced by the character’s G1 roots that characterizes the rest of the Classics/Universe 2.0 line. I gotta say, I’m still digging it as much as when I first got him. You get the same folded down hood as a chest as his original toy and the Autobot insignia finally makes its appearance. The biggest departure on this design comes in his lower legs where the rear bumper splits apart to become his knees. It’s not as streamlined as his original design, but I still think it works pretty well. My only complaint here is that I wish those two bumper pieces actually tabbed into place somehow. All in all, I get a strong Alternators vibe from this robot mode, and that ain’t a bad thing at all!

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The engine piece reattaches to his back to form a sort of jetpack, which is certainly a nice touch although it’s also completely optional if you want to leave it off.

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The deco here is gorgeous. Sideswipe retains a lot of his red and black motif, but you also get the addition of white for his arms, upper legs, an upper chest. The design also adds to brilliant pieces of transparent blue plastic to his thighs which goes a long way to make the figure’s colors pop.

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The Classics and Universe 2.0 lines rarely disappoints when it comes to the G1 inspired head sculpts and Sideswipe here is no exception. The portrait here is absolutely brillaint from his horned helmet to his neatly painted silver face. The blue light piping effect in the eyes is also highly effective and absolutely gorgeous.

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Sadly, Sideswipe does not come with his shoulder mounted missile launcher, despite the fact that there are clearly peg holes to accommodate such a weapon. He does, however, come with a very nice pistol that doubles as his exhaust pipes when in auto mode.

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I absolutely loved this figure when it first came out and even after Sideswipe’s Masterpiece treatment, I still love this figure today. Hasbro delivered with a beautiful auto mode and a kick-ass robot mode. The engineering at work here is inspired and he’s an extremely fun figure to play around with. The other really cool thing about this figure is that it’s one of the first instances that I can remember where Hasbro designed a mold that would accommodate independent engineering and work as a separate character. In this case, that character is the other half of the Lambor brothers, Sunstreaker, and we’ll go ahead and check out that figure next Thursday!

Transformers Classics: Megatron by Hasbro

It’s Thursday and around these parts that means Transformers! As much as I’ve enjoyed my tour of the Generations Legends Class line for the past month and a half, I’ve sadly run out of figures. I am, however, still on the hunt, so I’ll be circling back around to it eventually. For the time being, I’ll be turning my optical receptors back to some unfinished business in the Classics and Universe 2.0 lineup. I was surprised to find that the figure I’m looking at today has escaped my feature spotlight these last four years and now that I’m doing it, I think that might have been an intentional oversight. Nonetheless, I’d say it’s long past time to dust off Classics Megatron and give him his due. Naturally, the packaging for this guy is long gone, so we’re going to jump straight in and look at his alt mode.

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At the time, I don’t think anyone could have predicted that Megsy would be appearing in the Classics line as a gun and yet here he is. Sort of. He’s definitely a pistol, but Hasbro had to use their creative license to give us a design far from anything realistic. And so we wound up with what is often the bane of most nerds and fanboys… the dreaded compromise! Yes, Megatron is a gun again, and no he’s not a Walther P38 or even anything resembling any kind of real world firearm. Instead, what we got is something that resembles, more than anything else, some kind of Nerf blaster. Now, I can appreciate going for a sci-fi style weapon and I think the concept could have worked, if only the end result looked better than what we got.

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About the only thing here vaguely reminiscent of Megsy’s old gun mode is the scope and the trigger. There’s a chamber, which vaguely resembles some kind of revolver and I’ll never understand the ridiculousness of having to put an orange plug on the end of a barrel of a toy gun with a design like this. Thank god for that plug in the barrel or kids would be holding up 7-11’s with old Megatron left and right. Yeah, it only adds to everything else that is unfortunate and wrong about this gun mode. I’ll also throw in the fact that the handle grip is way too small, not only for an adult hand but to look proportionally correct with the rest of the gun. It’s perhaps worth noting that you can pull the trigger and it clicks and you can actually look through the scope, but none of those “features” help to sell this alt mode to me. In fact, Classics Megatron would have to have one hell of an amazing robot mode to make up for this.

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And sadly that he does not. What he does have is a fascinating transformation that at least has me respecting and admiring what Hasbro tried to do here. I’ll even go so far as to say that there are a number of things that I do like about this robot mode. The contours of the legs are nice and while only one of them form the grip for the gun, they are symmetrical to look like they might have split apart during transformation like the G1 toy. The way the scope becomes his fusion cannon is also spot on fabulous, even if it does have a hideous orange plug on the end. Wait… why does the toy need an orange plug on the end of the SCOPE?

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The head sculpt is also pretty damn good. The shape of the helmet is very reminiscent of the G1 Sunbow look and while Hasbro has taken some liberties here with the face, I still like it a lot. The lightpiping effect in the eyes is also excellent, even if green was a strange choice to go with.

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Unfortunately, just about everything else about this guy feels wrong to me. There’s nothing in the chest that nods back to the old days. Remember, this is the Classics line, Hasbro, give me something else to work with here. Also the asymmetry of the shoulders really bugs me, especially since the left one displays that ugly orange plug. And I’ve obviously saved the biggest gripe for last because those giant wings that form the two half shells of the gun mode are just a shame.

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The coloring here is also really inappropriate. I’m normally a big fan of purple in my Decepticon decos, but when you mix it with the neon green and orange, it just doesn’t work for a Classics style Megatron. The coloring on the Japanese Henkei version goes a long way to save this toy and I’d dare say that had Hasbro used that deco I would have been a lot more forgiving about the rest of this figure. For a while I considered picking up that version, but then I didn’t really want to invest more money in this mold.

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And so I’m left with a real love-hate relationship toward this figure. I appreciate what Hasbro tried to do here and I understand that they had some unreasonable limitations working against them vis-a-vis the alt mode. Plus, I can’t deny that I’m able to pick up this figure and have some fun with him. He can still strike some pretty cool poses. On the other hand, there are just so many unfortunate design elements here that make him fail as a Classics style Megatron. And the fact that it is a character as important as Megatron makes that fail all the more epic. Ever since this guy was released, I’ve been on the hunt for another version of the character to stand in for my Classics Megatron, and the search still goes on. My War For Cybertron Megsy comes close, but then he doesn’t scale with Classics Prime. I’m anxious to see how Hasbro’s upcoming Generations Megatron turns out. Even if he isn’t a gun, I think the robot mode on that big guy has a lot of potential. Of course, I’ll still have that scale problem.

Transformers Classics: Ultra Magnus by Hasbro

Last week I happened to mention the Ultra Magnus/Skywarp 2-pack when doing my feature of Generations Thundercracker. I know that about three years ago I looked at that Skywarp when doing a feature on the Classics-style Seekers, but looking back through my Index I realized that Ultra Magnus never got the spotlight on FFZ, so let’s amend that today because despite being a rather uninspired repaint, he’s a rather interesting release to talk about.

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If there was any logic behind Hasbro pairing up Skywarp and Ultra Magnus in the Classics line, I have no idea what it was. I don’t recall ever reading about any great rivalry between the characters. Nonetheless, it sure did piss off a lot of fans. First off, it was a Target exclusive which meant that for some people it was difficult to get. Some people, but not for me. My Target had half an endcap full of these sets on clearance when I bought mine, and even at that point I don’t ever remember seeing them in the aisle for regular price. I tend to find Target exclusives a lot more often than Walmart releases, which I have no hope of finding at all. Nonetheless, the exclusivity of the release was a sticking point with fans who desperately wanted the next Decepticon Seeker Jet in the line. Of course, what also stuck in many a collectors’ craw was having to pay for a white repaint of Optimus Prime in order to get him. You see, a little something called Parallax City Commander didn’t even exist yet, and collectors couldn’t help but question why this wasn’t a Skywarp and Thundercracker 2-pack. And it’s still a good question. Even at a clearance price, I still felt like a sucker as I paid for the set for the sole purpose of getting Skywarp.

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Obviously there’s history and tradition behind painting Optimus white and calling him Ultra Magnus, but that’s only because the original G1 toy used Prime’s cab as a basis to build a very different figure. Did anyone actually play with Ultra Magnus as a white cab alone? I sure didn’t. As a result just releasing a white repaint of Prime with no extra parts always seemed like the height of laziness, and yet that hasn’t stopped Hasbro and Takara from doing it. Before Fansproject came along and unlocked the true potential of this figure, I don’t know anybody that actually wanted it… let alone me! But then again, I have a love-hate relationship with this mold to begin with. I’m not going to rehash a lot of that here, so feel free to jump back to my original feature of Classics Optimus Prime if you want the full poop.

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I can’t deny that Magnus looks good in his truck mode. The white, silver and blue motif looks particularly nice on the toy and he really is just begging for a car carrier trailer on the back to drive the homage home. What’s more the white plastic that Hasbro used here is just fantastic. It holds a vibrant color and doesn’t feel at all cheap like some of the stuff they’ve been using lately. He comes with the same removable cap that converts into a large gun and the same set of exhaust pipes that convert into his rifle. The only thing really missing here is an Autobot symbol. I like my Autobots to show their insignia when in vehicle mode and like Optimus, Magnus here only sports a rub sign.

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It’s the robot mode where this figure starts to bother me. It’s so damn close to being great, but I can never get past the huge plates hanging off his arms. Even the way the lower torso is faked out doesn’t bother me at all. But it’s a moot point here, because we’re still just talking about a white Optimus Prime and not Ultra Magnus. Once again, the coloring on the figure looks great, I like the Autobot insignia stamped on the shoulders, but it’s just not Ultra Magnus. Hasbro might as well have just called this Arctic Attack Optimus Prime. Or how about write a bio on the back about how after Prime died he came back as “Optimus the White.” Oh wait, that was Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. Screw it, it still would have been a better justification than just calling this Ultra Magnus.

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Nope, Hasbro didn’t even pony up for a new head. I can’t help but wonder if I would have received this figure a little better with a G1 style Magnus head and maybe a little tweaking to the cap on the top of the cab. Just something to show that they made an effort at passing the figure off as Ultra Magnus. Anything would have helped.

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Of course, the true irony is that this unwanted figure became the hottest commodity around once Fansproject released the Parallax kit that turned him into a proper Ultra Magnus. At that point a figure that you couldn’t give away started commanding crazy prices on The Ebays. I’m sure plenty of collectors took their Skywarps and dumped this guy only to regret it later.

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I should point out that Magnus here is the only Classics figure that I do not display. He is by no means an unattractive figure, but as a character he just has no place in my display. He sits in a drawer waiting for the day that I may be impulsive enough to buy the upgrade kit for him. Alas, with the crazy prices of that kit, that’s not likely to happen unless Fansproject ever does another run of it. And now with Takara announcing a new Masterpiece Ultra Magnus, one that won’t be a mere repaint, I’m more interest in saving my pennies to see what that’s going to look like. In the end, this guy is probably going to find himself up on the chopping block. Right now the only thing that’s saving him is that he doesn’t take up much room.

Transformers Classics: Optimus Prime by Hasbro

A couple of weeks ago, I looked at Classics Jetfire and realized that there were still quite a few Classics in my collection that have escaped being featured here on FFZ. Most notable of all is the big cheese himself, Optimus Prime. However, in Prime’s case, I think the omission may have been by design. I was hooked on the Classics line from day one, but I was never entirely smitten with this version of Prime. Let’s see if he’s grown on me any after all these years…

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The packaging has been gone for a long time, so let’s jump right into Prime’s alt mode. Yep, he’s still a red semi-truck cab which offers a solid homage to the original character toy, but Hasbro certainly went off the reservation on a few significant points. He’s less boxy and more rounded at the edges, and his windows in particular are pretty stylized. It’s a slightly sexier and modern look and I’m cool with that. If I had to pick one thing that bothered me the most, it would be the windows. They just don’t seem to fit with the rest of the design and it’s obvious the discrepancy has to do with the transformation engineering. We’ll come back to that in a little bit.

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Initially, I wasn’t a big fan of the cap on the roof, but that’s grown on me a little bit. My main issue with the cap is that it’s basically there to hide the head and create an extra gun. I think the head could have been hidden with something a lot less cumbersome, and as we’ll see the gun that it forms isn’t a great pay off.

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I do like the deco used here quite a bit, as it’s fairly faithful to the original toy colors. He’s mostly red and blue, with some added silver. The grey used for the bumper and grill is a little jarring to me. I think it should have been painted closer to the side striping with a little metallic silver finish. My only other gripe here is the lack of a regular Autobot insignia. Prime does have a rub sign sticker, but I’ve never been a big fan of these. Still, combine this deco with the new design and I can appreciate Prime’s cab mode well enough. There are no miss steps to the reimagined design that I can’t forgive. Let’s transform him and see if the same holds true for his robot mode.

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Prime in robot mode is a damn frustrating figure. He’s got so much great stuff going for him, but a couple points of lazy design detracts from him a lot. The first thing worth mentioning is that his transformation relies on a bit of fakery. The lower part of his torso is meant to look like his truck grill, but the real truck grill winds up on his back. I’m not a big fan of that kind of hocus-pocus in my Transformers engineering, but it isn’t a deal breaker for me if it’s done right. If we’re talking about Prime’s torso and legs… he’s done very right. There’s a great stylized design to him that makes the fakery well worthwhile. He looks fantastic and very much like the Prime toy that I’ve always wanted. The head sculpt isn’t among my favorite Prime heads, but it’s not at all bad. So what’s the problem?

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First off, the horrible truck shell pieces that hang off his arms. They hang there, they flop around and get in the way. Basically, they’re ugly and awkward. An extra hinge to help them wrap around the arm may have helped. Maybe if they actually looked like armor and not just truck pieces hanging off of him. But whatever the case, he always looks like he’s mis-transformed or missing a step somewhere. It looks like the designers kept thinking, “Yeah, the arms… we’ll worry about them later” only later never came. I’m not a fan of parts-formers, but in this case, I would have been perfectly fine if you could have just pulled these pieces off, because they practically destroy the figure by being there.

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Less of a problem is his backpack. It’s awkward and ugly, but I’m far more forgiving of a cumbersome backpack on a Transformer than the god-awful hideous limb kibble. Of course, you can also pull the backpack off, which brings me to Prime’s two transforming weapons…

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Prime’s main weapon comes out of his smokestacks. It’s not his traditional looking rifle, but I do like it a lot. It’s a clever use of the smokestack part and I think he looks pretty good holding it. The cap/backpack gun is slightly more complex in transformation. It’s an ok gun, but rather unwieldy and I don’t like that it’s the same deco as Prime himself. Like I mentioned above, it isn’t worth the payoff of having the big cap on the truck cab.

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Classics Prime is a fun toy, and he’s definitely one of the better Prime figures that Hasbro has put out since. I’ll concede that’s a bit of a loaded compliment, but I do think he deserves more kudos than scorn. That having been said, it’s hard to overlook the truck kibble on his arms. I can remember the first time I transformed him, I kept looking back at the instructions to see what I was doing wrong, only to find out that there was nothing wrong, that’s what his arms look like. If I’m blowing them out of proportion, I think the problem here was that I was so excited about Hasbro doing updates to G1 characters, my expectations were too high. In the end, I’m far more willing to dismiss a terrible figure than forgive one that mingles with greatness but falls flat because of one or two major flaws. Prime is sadly one of those figures that could have been close to perfect, but missed the mark because of some lazy design elements.

Transformers Classics: Jetfire by Hasbro

I had a lot of fun checking out TF:U King Atlas last week, so I thought I’d pull out another Autobot jet that I haven’t featured yet on FFZ… It’s Jetfire! How is it possible that in over three years of doing this toy nonsense, I never looked at Jetfire here? I loved Jetfire in the Sunbow cartoon and while I’m not going to sit here and say I didn’t love the Macross style G1 toy, I always wanted something a little closer to the animated counterpart. Was this Classics release it? No, not really. There are some obvious homages here and there, but in the end Classics Jetfire is more a reimagining of the character then a direct update. I’ve had this guy in my collection for a while and the package is long gone, so we’re going to get right to the figure. As always, let’s start with his alt mode!

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Like the original G1 toy, Jetfire has removable booster rockets, giving him the ability to be displayed in a basic jet mode. To be honest, I usually display him with the boosters on, but I love having the option to outfit him the way I want, especially since his vanilla jet mode looks so bitchin. The design borrows from both the Sunbow and the original toy designs, but I see more of the old Valkyrie style here than anything else. You get the same swept back wings, which can be positioned forward, the same dual rear fins, and even the folded feet thrusters all nod back to the old Macross style. The bulk of the toy is bare white plastic, which looks so much better than the stuff that Hasbro uses today. It’s detailed with beautiful red paintwork all very reminiscent of the G1 figure.

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From the Sunbow side of things, we get a squared off nose and a blue cockpit. Compromise isn’t always a good thing, as collectors looking for a jet design that is accurate to either the G1 toy or the G1 cartoon will both be disappointed. I’d still like to see a straight Sunbow version of him at some point, but I still think this toy has a great looking jet mode that hits all the right points.

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If you turn Jetfire over, you can see his arms and fists as clear as day. That doesn’t bother me so much as you’re almost always going to have some robo-kibble on jets in this size of toy. Plus the two missile launchers that peg onto the arms under the wings do their part to conceal it from the sides. Jetfire also features three working landing gear and a very nicely detailed cockpit.

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Jetfire’s booster rocket pack simply pegs right onto his back in one big assembly. All you need to do is fold down his rear fins. It matches the iconic look of the old Valkyrie-style jet beautifully. He looks totally bad ass, and this is my favorite way to display him when he’s parked in jet mode. By sliding back the rear of the red frame you can deploy two spring loaded cannon.

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Transforming Jetfire is fairly simple, although there are a few clever things at work. As already mentioned, the arms are practically complete even when in jet mode. You can remove his missile launchers, but it isn’t necessary for transformation as they wind up right where they should, mounted onto his arms and ready to fire at Decepticon fools. His feet and legs fold out just as I remember the old toy did. The chest and torso uses some cool new engineering, like swinging the arms up to the shoulders, and splitting the nosecone to beef out the chest.

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In robot mode, Jetfire sheds most of his G1 toy roots, and while he skews a bit more toward his Sunbow animated design, this toy’s bot mode is mostly his own.  Any disappointment I ever had about him not being more Sunbow accurate quickly washed away because he’s such a glorious looking figure, and there’s certainly no doubt who he supposed to be. He manages to still look iconic, while still representing a significant departure from the original designs.

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The cockpit looks great on his chest even if it is derivative of almost all the other jet Transformers out there. I’m old school. I think jet Transformers should have their cockpits on their chests and car transformers should have their front bumpers on their chests. Not really all the time, but it’s the quintessential look for me. No pun intended. Quintesson? Ahem… moving on. I thought I’d really miss the way old school Jetfire’s back wings crossed his back, but I do dig the way this toy’s wings sweep down his back like a cape. The missile launchers on his arms invoke the G1 Seekers weaponry, which is always a great thing in my book. He’s a nice, sturdy and fun figure to play around with.

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Jetfire’s stock head is fairly close to the Skyfire we all know and love, and he actually comes with a more G1 style head that fits over it like a helmet. I really don’t like the helmeted look and mine is rattling in the bottom of a tote somewhere anyway, but if I ever find it, I’ll have to do an update. I will note that the regular head looks a tad small, mainly because the cockpit juts pretty far out of his chest. The helmeted head seems to be scaled better, as it’s a tad bigger, but I still don’t like the way it looks as much. UPDATE… I FOUND HIS HELMET!!! My toy filing system is obviously better than I thought!

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Yep, Classics Jetfire is one of my favorite figures in the line. That’s saying a lot, because generally speaking the Classics series figures could do no wrong by me. Sure you had a couple bombs like Tankor, and Grimlock was kind of disappointing, but Jetfire is a great figure among many great figures and he looks amazing standing in the back among the rest of the re-imagined G1 Autobots. I’ll grant you that he should have been bigger, but scale issues are a common problem in Transformers toys, so I’m not going to come down too hard on him for that. As much as I adore Classics, even I have to admit some of the toys are starting to look rather dated now, but I think Jetfire holds his own. And I just realized when shooting him besides Classics Optimus, that I haven’t featured him here before either, so I’ll have to swing back and look at him sometime next week.

Transformers Universe 2.0: Targetmaster Cyclonus with Nightstick by Hasbro

It’s Friday, and that means it’s Transformers Classics week is just about up. I’ve got time to throw in one more figure before calling it quits so let’s take a look at the only Targetmaster to be released in the line so far: Cyclonus with Nightstick. He’s definitely a figure that needed an update badly as the original toy was pretty rough, at least in his robot mode. He was one of those new designs from the 86 movie with a rounder, more organic look that just could not be done justice in the old toy line. I know I had plenty of fun playing with him as a kid, but now it’s tough to look back at his original toy without cringing. How did the Universe 2.0 version treat us? Let’s find out…

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Cyclonus came carded in his space cruiser mode, so let’s start there. The roots of the ship design are certainly on display here, but it’s clear that a lot of sacrifices had to be made in order to help the transformation along. It’s not quite as sleek as the original toy design. You get a lot of disjointed hinging and segmentation and that retracting nose cone is particularly unsightly. The back half of the body doesn’t lock together and when viewed from the back it’s just downright f’ugly. That all having been said, I think they did the best with what they had, and if sacrifices had to be made, I’m glad they did it in the alt mode and not the robot mode. On the upside, Cyclonus has a hinged set of front landing gear and a socket in the top so you can plug in Nightstick and give him some extra firepower.

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The conversion process is pretty simple and yet very clever. I really like the way the entire nosecone assembly folds away into the torso. The engineering in the legs is very cool as well. He’s lots of fun to transform and not at all overly complicated.

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In contrast to the alt mode, Cyclonus’ robot form is excellent and very close to his animated counterpart. He hits all the points of the character’s great design elements. I love that Hasbro managed to remain faithful to the sleeker and more organic contours of the 86 movie look, which is something the G1 toys could never properly replicate. On the downside, I’m not sure what Hasbro was thinking for the colors here. The blue seems way too dark and the bare grey plastic doesn’t look that great. It’s passable enough for the wings, but the unpainted face just looks cheap and unfinished. That’s a shame because the sculpt of the portrait is great and the light piping in the eyes is particularly effective.

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Cyclonus has all the articulation you could want in an action figure. His head rotates. His arms rotate at the shoulder, have some lateral movement in the biceps, as well as hinged and swivel elbows. His legs are ball jointed at the hips, hinged at the knees and ankles and have swivels in the biceps. One of the greatest things about these updates is that we finally get these characters as fully realized action figures and Cyclonus sure is fun to pose and mess around with.

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Nightstick is Cyclonus’ little Nebulon buddy who transforms into a gun/cannon. I loved this idea back in the day and I’m happy to see Hasbro begin including these in the retro-line. It’s a pretty simple transformation, but his robot form looks pretty good for a guy this size. His articulation is actually pretty good too, even if most of it is just there to accomodate his transformation. For some reason, Cyclonus only has a peg hole in his right hand.

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Remember what I said about Astrotrain? Well it applies here too. If you don’t have Cyclonus and are looking to pick him up, spend the extra money and get the Henkei version. The colors are excellent and a toy this good really deserves the better paint job, than the unfinished grey parts on this Hasbro version. He’s not as bad a color variation as Astrotrain, though, so that’s saying something. You could also check out the Rodimus and Cyclonus two-pack that Hasbro did as it’s intended to be more a more cartoon accurate deco. Either way, Cyclonus is one of my favorite of all the Classics inspired figures. He looks amazing, has great articulation and is so much fun to play around with. If you don’t have him, get him.

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And that wraps it up for Transformers Classics week. I didn’t quite get to all the figures I wanted to get to, but I had a pretty good run at it. I was considering extending through to Saturday just to get a few more posts in, but I’ve got other toys piling up, [Some of which are more Transformers… yay! -FF] so I’m going to just move on and revisit the ones I missed at some point in the coming weeks.

Transformers Classics: Grimlock by Hasbro

No doubt top on the list of many a fan’s wishlist for the Classics line was Grimlock. Hasbro did right by us all by getting him out of the way sooner rather than later. Afterall, considering how insanely popular he is among the fandom, Grimlock and the Dinobots haven’t gotten a lot of love throughout the years. [No, the Universe Dinobots don’t count, because true Dinobots shouldn’t look like real dinosaurs, they should look like robot dinosaurs. -FF] So, I wanted to make sure I gave Grimlock here his props during Classics Week.

Me, Grimlock think me should have been biggerer.

Yeah, I agree. Generations seems to be shunning the larger sized toys in favor of being a Deluxe Class only property [I’m still unclear whether Grapple will be in Generations or Hunt for the Decepticons packaging -FF], but back in the days of Classics and Universe 2.0, we did get some of the larger size toys. I really think Grimlock would have made a great Voyager Class. It’s not that I think the sculpt or the aesthetics of the figure would have been that much improved, but he should have been able to stand at least as tall as Optimus Prime.

That having been said, I think Hasbro did an amazing job upgrading Grimlock’s dino mode. There’s a little more rounding to the sculpt, but not enough to give him too much of an organic look. The head is awesome and the mouth opens up nice and wide so he can chomp on Decepticon fools or eat Minicons like popcorn. There’s also a ton of sculpted panel lines and other details all over his body. The biggest departure here from his original mode is the back-mounted missile launcher, which can be taken off if you’d like a more old-school look. The colors are excellent and faithful to the original. He looks like he has some wash over his primary grey color and the gold is great looking. The amount of articulation in the tail alone is pretty respecable too. Grimlock’s dino mode is just a great looking and really fun toy.

Transforming Grimlock is surprisingly different than his original version, and I’m wondering if Hasbro did the figure a disservice by over complicating things, or inexplicably trying to get away from the old style conversion. Normally, I wouldn’t care, but it effects the design of the figure with the head splitting apart to become the feet. I think that by keeping the original style of conversion, [Which was subsequently used for the Animated Grimlock. -FF], would have resulted in a much better homage to the G1 toy. How about it, Grimlock?

Me, Grimlock have teeth for toes! Why? Why have teeth for toes?

I have no idea, Grimlock. The new conversion just seems needlessly complex and fidgity, but it goes pretty quick if you know what you’r doing. Unfortunately, it also results in removing the tail, which the figure can hold as some kind of sword/bludgeon weapon. I absolutely hate when parts are removed from Transformers to make them work and then turned into shitty afterthought weapons to make it seem like a good idea.

Me, Grimlock not like holding own ass.

Nobody does, Grimlock. So let’s cast the tail aside and look at the figure. It’s not bad. It definitely shares some design elements with the original toy and the animated, but it also deviates a bit too much for my taste. The gold chest is nice effort, but that huge red orb in his chest was a strange choice. I already commented on the head splitting into the feet. If it were any other figure, it would be fine, but I don’t like it on my G1 inspired Grimlock. The shoulders suffer from the same backward assembly as my Ironhide and Ratchet, showing off the ugly screws. The head sculpt is excellent, though, and the light piping works really well on this figure.

His articulation is good, with rotating shoulders that have some lateral movement and hinged elbows. His head turns, but is very tight on my figure. His hips are ball jointed and his knees are hinged. You can get some decent poses out of him.

Honestly, I wish Hasbro had taken a different route with this figure and stuck more with the original look. They could have kept the original transformation while still adding articulation and updating the sculpt and I would have been much happier. On the other hand, he’s a really nice looking and fun figure on his own right. He’s definitely worth hunting down and buying, especially since this character hasn’t really received his due over the years.

Transformers Universe 2.0 Ironhide and Ratchet by Hasbro

Even as a wee G1 lad, it was tough to wrap my head around what the hell was going on with Ironhide and Ratchet’s robot modes. I can remember seeing these guys on the shelves and wanting them so bad because I loved the characters so much. But then there were those pictures on the box. Could the figures really look like that? How is that possible? Is that really supposed to be their faces? I was never about to risk a chance to get a new Transformer on such a gamble, but one Christmas, my uncle got my the pair of them, and so I finally found out for myself that yes, these guys were all sorts of jacked up.

So, needless to say a lot of us have been waiting for these figures to get a proper update in the G1 style for a very long time. It took Universe 2.0 to do what seemed to be not such a big deal: Turn a van SUV into a decent robot. After all, Hasbro has been able to make passable Transformers out of motorcycles, a biplane, and even a goddamn toaster. How hard could it be to get these guys right? Well, the U2.0 releases come a lot close to getting the job done. These figures still have numerous issues, and I definitely think Hasbro could have done better. Let’s see what we got…

Ironhide and Ratchet are both the exact same figure, save for different head sculpts and coloring, so I’m going to start with Ironhide and then just cover the differences seen in Ratchet.

Ok, so Ironhide isn’t quite a van, he’s more of an SUV. That’s close enough to me and this alt form would be awesome, if it weren’t for the web of cracks and seams running all over his broadsides or a few other noteworthy problems. Ok, this alt form could never have been awesome. The seaming is unsightly as all hell and makes me reconsider my disdain for shell-former designs. I also don’t like the mix between clear windows and painted ones, it looks terrible. Some nice touches include the rambar on the front and “OREGON” on the rear license plate. The original G1 Ironhide figure had a great van mode and horrible robot mode, here we have the reverse. I guess we can’t have both.

Transforming Ironhide is a bitch and a half. There’s a lot of stuff you have to pack into his torso and just about every time I convert him, I’m afraid I’m going to break something. I also find it impossible to convert him without him pulling apart into two halves, so I just consider that part of the transformation, it’s just easier that way.

Ironhide’s robot mode is a mixed bag to say the least. The best thing about him is that he’s finally a humanoid. His head sculpt is also very G1 accurate. I know some don’t dig the powder blue face paint, but it doesn’t really bother me at all. The plate that moves up behind his windshield chest is a brilliant little gimmick and looks great. It feature excellent sculpting and an Autobot insignia. Ironhide is also a pretty stable figure that stands and poses well. So what’s the bad stuff? His shoulders are backwards and show off his unsightly screws. There’s also a problem with his transformation that causes his head to be looking down. There’s apparently a way to fix this by taking the figure apart, but it hasn’t bothered me enough to try. There isn’t a lot of paintwork on this figure, he’s mostly red with some black and grey, but that’s how he should be.

So, let’s take a quick look at Ratchet. The only structural difference in his ambulance mode is the lightbar stuck on top, all the other changes are found in the color scheme. The white and red works really well and I don’t mind the painted windows quite as much on Ratchet as I did with Ironhide. The seaming is still ugly as hell, though. If the license plate reads “H3L PU2” which I can only come away with as meaning Help You Too or perhaps it’s a plea to support Bono. I don’t know.

In robot mode, we see that Ratchet has a nice new head sculpt, which again is a very good likeness of the G1 character. Like Ironhide, Ratchet has the same plate that comes up behind his windshield chest, this time painted black but with the same Autobot insignia. He unfortunately suffers from the same reversed shoulder pieces, showing off his awesome unfinished screws. Apart from that, his deco works really nicely. I’m not a big fan of figures molded in white plastic, but Ratchet seems to be an exception. He just pops.

Both figures have weapons that can store underneith their SUV modes, between their rear wheels. These weaposn can be converted into a gatling gun looking weapon or a small bladed energon dagger.

Despite the shitty vehicle modes and a bunch of issues with the robot modes, I still can’t bring myself to dislike these figures. Granted, they spend ZERO time displayed in their alt forms. I’m just happy enough to have G1 versions of the characters in somewhat decent robot modes. If you’re fans of these characters or are looking to complete your updated Autobot ranks, I defintely recommend picking them up. If you don’t give a crap about Ironhide and Ratchet, than I would definitely skip this pair.