Transformers Generations: Megatron (IDW Comic Pack) by Hasbro

The IDW comic packs have arrived and I am a happy camper! If you’ve been kicking around FFZ for the past three years you may know that I absolutely adore the idea of packaging action figures with comics. The presentation can’t be beat and hey… free comic! I got the first wave of these in last week and I thought I’d start things rolling with Megatron. He’s the one figure in this assortment that I was probably least excited for, mainly because War for Cybertron Megs is still my go-to Megs for my TF display. I didn’t think there was much chance of this one knocking him out of the spotlight, but let’s find out if I was wrong…

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Yup… That’s what I call awesome packaging! Megs comes carded in his robot form with an issue of the IDW comic behind him sporting an exclusive cover. Honestly, I’m not terribly keen on the cover. The art is nice, but the coloring is rather bland. I think it would have worked better had they left it alone, but I can understand why they wanted something more focused on Megatron. The card points out that this is one of Hasbro’s “Thrilling Thirty” as part of the 30th Anniversary line. As usual, I’m going to start out with Megs’ alt mode, but first let’s look at the comic!

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I did not come back to Transformers comics until the debut of More Than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise, so this ish is a new one by me. This was a great issue to include with the figure because it involves Megatron returning to lead the Decepticons in his new stealth bomber alt mode. It’s a good stand-alone read and it focuses on the familiar Megatron and Starscream trope in what plays out like some kind of bizarre sado-masochistic passion play.

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Ok, so as mentioned, Megatron is a stealth bomber, and a mighty nice looking one at that. He pegs together very well and he’s sized about right for a Deluxe. There aren’t a lot of paint apps going on here. He’s molded in black plastic and has a little red for the windows and some grey accents. I would have loved to see purple panel lining from Len O’Grady’s coloring, but I can understand why it didn’t cost out for the figure. If you flip him over you’ll see a lot of purple as well as a good portion of his robot mode peeking out at you.  Megatron has a single landing gear near the nose that folds down. It’s a nice touch, especially since it’s not really needed for the aircraft to balance on a surface. Apart from looking good, Megatron’s alt mode has no play features or gimmicks or anything like that. He does have a pair of ports on his back, which can be used to mount weapons from just about any recent Deluxe Transformer. I suspect the weapons from Fall of Cybertron Skywarp would look rather bitchin on him.

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I found transforming Megatron into jet mode was rather fidgety at first, but I was eventually able to do it without instructions. Getting him into robot mode, on the other hand, is pretty simple and intuitive. The only unusual thing is that you have to pull off his wings to form his fusion cannon, but more on that in a bit. When you’re done you get a robot that is a pretty damn fine approximation of the artwork in the comic. It’s not perfect, but it’s an extremely respectable attempt on Hasbro’s part. He’s very well proportioned and I really dig the triangular torso with the engine intakes on his shoulders. The head sculpt is spot-on, and while I tend to prefer the more angular and robotic faces of old, the organic Nick Roche style really shines through quite nicely on this figure.

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In robot mode, Megatron’s deco gets a little more interesting. Sure, there’s still plenty of black from the bomber mode, but now you’ve got two shades of purple, as well as the bits of grey and red. It’s a very Skywarpy look, and that compounds my main issue with this figure: It just doesn’t feel like Megatron to me.

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As mentioned, the wing tips pull off and get pegged together and then placed on either of his arms to form his fusion cannon. It’s not very traditional, but it does have a certain alien energy weapon look to it, and it does fit the artwork. You can pull out the front of it to reveal some translucent purple, which looks fantastic.

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By every account, this is an excellent figure. Hasbro took the comic book art, worked out the engineering and did so brilliantly. He’s not really my Megatron, but if you’re a fan of this comic run, chances are you’ll really dig this guy. But even if this guy isn’t going to replace FoC Megatron on my display shelf, I can still appreciate him as a great Transformer and a cool stand-alone figure in my collection.

Transformers Generations: Titan Class Metroplex by Hasbro, Part 3

It’s Transformers Thursday, and I promise to get back to some older Transformers next week. This week, I’m allowing my look at Metroplex to take over, because the feature has gotten out of hand and I can’t stop playing with him. Today, we’re wrapping things up with a look at his Carrier Mode, which should go very quickly and allow me to scamper off to The Pub for boozes and merriment. Ha! I said scamper!!

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So, the Carrier Mode is really simple and is essentially an aircraft carrier that rolls along on the ground. Yes, it’s basically Metroplex with his legs out in front of him to form dual runways and his arms swept back. And yet, as simple as this mode is, I still absolutely love it. The runways show off a lot of stickers, which makes it look outstanding, so long as you applied them carefully, and there’s a cargo crane that can be folded out from the deck. I have yet to find a practical use for it, but it’s still a cool little extra.

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The command center in the rear still features the ramp that comes down from his chest bay and a fold out gunnery station on the left shoulder. Also on the left shoulder is a helipad, which is smaller and separate from the one used in his City Mode. You can also still have access to his fold out right arm cannon if Metro needs to shoot behind him. Let’s load him up with some Minicons and get him ready for action!

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Yup, I’ve got plenty of Minicon jets, which look great all lined up on the runways and ready to launch. If I had the space, I would definitely display Metro in this mode a lot of the time, just so I could showcase my Minicon air force. And if I owned this toy as a kid, I’d probably spend a ridiculous amount of time playing with Metro in this mode. It’s just so much fun! And that’s all I’ve got on the Carrier Mode. I told you this would be quick!

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Thanks for your patience as I stretched this feature into three parts. It’s the first time I spent three days looking at a single figure, but I was really excited to finally have this guy and I honestly think he warranted the extra attention. In Part 1, I compared the box a lot to 80’s toys and as I come away from this look at Metroplex, I find myself with the same kind of delight and awe that I had for some of the bigger 80’s releases. Plexy joins other recent releases like the Millennium Falcon and the GI JOE Pit as love letters to those days of yore where you could walk into a toy store and find stuff like this all over the place.

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Metroplex retails right around $100, which I think is a pretty solid value for what you’re getting. I haven’t actually seen him at any retail stores yet, but he is coming in and out of stock at a lot of online retailers as we speak. This release comes to us against all odds, as Transformers fans have been lamenting for ages that we’d never get another Fort Max sized Transformer in the US. It just goes to show you that anything is possible. Sure, I would have liked to see some of the chrome work on the SDCC version applied to the general retail release. At the very least, the face should have been painted silver, but really I’m nitpicking little things about what is a really amazing toy and one that I’m absolutely thrilled to have in my collection. Where’s he going to live? I have absolutely no idea! But he’ll find a place to hang out, even if I have to sit him on my sofa.

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Couldn’t resist one more size comparison shot… Omega don’t seem so Supreme anymore.

Transformers Generations: Titan Class Metroplex by Hasbro, Part 2

And I’m back for the second part of my look at Hasbro’s amazing Metroplex figure. Much like the original G1 toy, Hasbro’s update comes with Scamper, a little Autobot car who can roll around Metro’s streets. Before we get back to GIANT robot craziness, let’s catch our collective breath and check out this little fella. We’ll start with his alt mode…

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In keeping with tradition, Scamper is a little black car with a red gun on top. With the extended side pieces and six wheels, he looks to me like a sportscar that’s been retrofitted for battle. His deco consists of black and grey plastic with some sparkly blue paint for the windshield and a little silver for his back. There isn’t a lot more to say about his alt mode apart from the fact that he rolls along great and the top gun is removable. All in all, he’s about the size of a Legion Commander Class, which is to say smaller than a Scout. For some reason I expected him to be a little bigger, but it’s good that Hasbro included a figure that is sized relative to Metroplex.

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Transforming Scamper is as easy as you might expect. You just fold out his legs from the back of the vehicle, fold down the hood to become his chest, and pull the arms out from the sides. In robot mode he’s a pretty cool little guy. His proportions are a tad wonky, as he has a Popeye-slash-monkey arm thing going on, but overall I like him. You can store his gun on his back and he can also hold it in either hand. Ball joints and hinges give him a great degree of poseability for such a little guy. By all accounts, Scamper is a cool little pack in figure, but let’s be honest, he’s not the reason we’re here… so give me a moment to set up the big background and we’ll check out Metro’s City Mode.

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Aw… Yeah! Continuing the theme that this Plexy shares most of the design and engineering of the original G1 toy, the City Modes are extremely similar in concept. The biggest difference, is also the one that I thought would bug me the most, and that’s the fact that the ramp from the bay in his chest does not reach down to the ground like it did on the G1 toy. Instead, 2013 Metro’s ramp only extends down to one of the leg pylons. This means that instead of a nice symmetrical city with the two leg pylons out at angles, one has to go straight out and the other off to the side. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but it probably has to do with my borderline OCD and demand for symmetry in design. I also used to like rolling cars out of the bay and have them shoot down the ramp and across the floor. Yes, it still irks me when I look at the City Mode, but I’m trying to warm up to it. In fairness it’s a petty annoyance, so let’s leave it be, and move on to some of the other features of Metroplex as a City. Dang… if only I had bags and bags of tiny little Transformers to play with on Metroplex… wait a minute… TO THE MINICONS!!!!

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Hell yeah, I’ve got tons of Minicons, and they are hands down one of the best ways to populate Metroplex, because they’re closer to proper scale. Spychangers will also do in a pinch, but if you’ve got a large collection of old Micromasters, well now you’re really talking.

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The top of the city features a gun pylon made out of his right arm. There’s a compartment to hold Scamper or a couple of Minicons. The shoulder gun makes up a tower rising up from the back, although you can also just angle it forward and make it an extra cannon for city defense. The left shoulder converts into a helipad along with a couple of other platforms where you can station some more small Transformers.

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The two leg pylons are pretty much the same, with the exception of the bay ramp coming down to the right pylon. These open up to reveal little command and control stations with stickers to show off the control panels. The rest of the legs feature streets leading out of the city. Again, these are perfectly sized for Minicon cars.

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I was not expecting a whole lot from Metroplex’s City Mode, but in the end I’m pleasantly surprised. Once I got him set up and loaded with figures, it’s easy to forget that he’s mainly just a robot sitting down with some parts folded out. I hate to pad this feature out further, but I still need to take some shots of Plexy in his Battlestation mode, so give one more day to play with him in City Mode and I’ll be back tomorrow to wrap this beast up!

Transformers Generations: Titan Class Metroplex by Hasbro, Part 1

It seems like only yesterday that Hasbro wowed TransFans the world over with their reveal of the new big boy of the Transformers world. He’s Metroplex and he’s the current record holder as the biggest Transformer ever. Fort Max? LOL… f’ck you!! The moment this guy was revealed, I knew I’d be buying him whatever the cost and he finally landed on my doorstep just last week. I don’t think he needs any further introduction, so let’s dive right in.

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As one might expect, Metroplex comes in a giant box. It’s a GIANT box! This is exactly the size and type of box I would see as a wee lad in the aisles of Toys R Us circa 1985. It was exactly the kind of box that would make me realize that I had a lot of shit to make up for if I was going to be good enough to get something this big and cool for Christmas at the end of the year. It is a glorious box. I love how it says “Actual Size” on it, as if to confirm that your eyes are not playing tricks on you… the box really is this big! I don’t think I’ve been this impressed by a toy package’s size and heft since I first held Hasbro’s revised Millennium Falcon or AT-AT Walker. Folks,  I’m looking at this box of giant robot goodness standing on the floor beside me, and I do believe I’m getting aroused.

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This is no namby-pamby window box. There’s no cozy flap to open up so you can have a window and look at the toy and maybe push a button through a “Try Me” hole. Windows are for pussies! You can look at your toy when you pony up the money, take it home, and open it, otherwise… f’ck off! You want to see the show? Buy a ticket! And a “Try Me” hole will do you no good because you don’t even get any batteries with it. In the 80’s you didn’t get batteries in your toys either. If you got home and there were no batteries lying around the house you were shit out of luck. Oh crap, I really don’t have any batteries… Gimmie those batteries, Xbox controller!

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Open up the box and you get a big cardboard tray full of plastic. I kind of wish Hasbro would have used a brick of styrofoam, just for old time sake. There’s also a slab of cardboard holding the large instruction booklet and the equally large set of stickers. STICKERS!!! Metroplex comes mostly assembled and there ain’t a whole lot of spare room in that box. You need to pop on his right arm and his shoulder cannons. Unfortunately, the arm isn’t meant to come off again and with it on he can’t easily go back in the box. I really wish Hasbro had made the box that quarter of an inch wider that it needs to be to hold the assembled figure. I desperately want to keep the box, but if Metro isn’t going back into it, I probably will end up ditching it. Y’all know that I normally, I start out with alt modes, but since Metroplex has two I’m going to take a look at his robot mode first. But before I do that, I need to go off and put some stickers on.

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…and an hour or so later I’m finally done. Holy crap, that’s a lot of stickers, although, you can’t tell from his robot mode because the bulk of these are only seen in his alt modes. None of them are terribly tiny, but manipulating this beast to get them in all the right spots while his legs are flopping all over the place got a bit tiresome after a while.

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So, besides the obvious (he’s HUGE!) I am really impressed with this guy right out of the gate. Like a lot of people, I was a little concerned about how skinny he was in the middle, but it didn’t turn out to be a big issue for me. He’s a robot. Granted, he’s a humanoid robot, but there’s no reason for him to be bulked out in the middle if he doesn’t need to be. If I were to pick the one thing that I dig most about Metroplex’s robot mode it would be how much Hasbro stuck with the overall original G1 design, and that’s going to be a running theme through this feature. They didn’t reinvent the guy, they just took the original design, spiffed it up a lot and made it bigger and better proportioned. You can run down the checklist of common design elements, from his kneecaps to the boxy twin bays that make up his chest, to the shoulder guns, and the antenna-guns that adorn each side of his head. I wouldn’t even call this guy an homage, he’s more of an update, and an extremely successful one at that.

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The deco is mostly white plastic, with some back, grey and red accents. While the toy is loaded with sculpted detail, most of the color comes from the billion stickers that you have to apply and hardly any paint apps. Here’s where I come out and concede that the chrome present on the SDCC version really does a nice job of breaking up the white plastic, so if you were lucky enough to pick up one of those… well, done! I think the only thing that feels off to me about the retail version is the white face, which should have been silver like the exclusive. I don’t even need it to be chromed, just painted silver. Is it a big deal? Not really, but I’m really looking for things to gripe about here.

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So, the next thing I dig the most about Mr. Metroplex here is just how much fun he is to play with in robot mode. Metroplex is huge, but he’s no brick. You get a lot of useful articulation with him and some fairly strong joints to back him up. One tends to expect something this big to stand there and look pretty, but I have had just as much fun posing this guy as I have any Deluxe or Voyager. Now, I say “fairly strong joints,” because his hip articulation will give out from time to time. If you give him too wide a stance or don’t balance him right, he will crumble, but it’s the exception rather than the rule. Standing straight up, he’s as solid as they come and while I feel obligated to suggest some stronger ratcheting joints in the hips may have been in order, what we got is still perfectly serviceable and I can get him into plenty of cool poses.

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Metroplex has a few nice play features to keep things interesting. First off, he has a huge gun that can mount on his shoulder or be held in his hand. If you got the SDCC version, you got two of them! The gun fits really well in either position and it fires a missile… right into your eyeball if you’re not careful! Seriously, I’m thankful I wear glasses. The head features a drop down red visor as well as moveable eyes. What? Yeah, I was pretty surprised too! There’s a lever on the back of his head that will move his eyes from side to side. You can, however, only see the effect when the electronics are active.

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Yes, what giant toy would be complete without electronic gimmickry? Push the top of Metroplex’s chest down and his chest and eyes light up and the SFX will sound off. The sound clips alternate between sound effects and speech. Here’s what the big guy has to say…

“Metroplex heeds the call of the last Prime.”

“Foolish Decepticons!”

“Decepticon deactivation commencing!”

“Target synchronizing initiated!”

“Target obliterated!”

“These Decepticons scatter like cowards.”

“Til all are one!”

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So how about that articulation? His arms feature shoulders that rotate and have lateral movement, hinges and swivels in the elbows, swivels in the wrists, and individually articulated fingers. His legs have hips that rotate and feature lateral movement and hinged knees with swivels. Metroplex can also swivel at the waist and rotate his head. There’s enough articulation here to make him fun to play with, but not enough to make him fragile or terribly unstable. It’s a thing of beauty!

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Ok, I feel like I’ve gone really long here, so I’m going to break and come back tomorrow when we will look at Metroplex’s chum, Scamper, and then check out the big guy’s City Mode! Oh yeah, and if you’re wondering how he stacks up to Mattel’s giant Voltron…

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Yup, right about the same height.

Transformers Generations: Sandstorm by Hasbro

What do you do if you’re Hasbro and you just turned out one of the best Transformers figures you’ve put out in years? You milk that mold, that’s what! Take the amazing Triple-Changer, Springer… a little recolored plastic, a little lot of retooling, and voila… You have Sandstorm! The question is can you take a toy that is so distinctively and undeniably Springer and make it work as a completely different character? Let’s find out, peeps!

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The packaging is the same window box we saw for Springer and Blitzwing. I like the G1-inspired deco, but I’m getting tired of the artsy-fartsy diagonal edge. You’re a box! Be squared off, be boxy! Don’t be ashamed of what you are!!

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The back of the box shows the figure and the alt modes. In G1, Sandstorm’s alt modes were a Dune Buggy and a helicopter, so using the Springer mold certainly makes sense, although his helicopter mode has been upgraded to a VTOL gunship. I can’t say as I’ve ever been a big fan of this guy from the old days. I never had the G1 toy and I don’t recall him featuring prominently in the cartoon or comic. Fortunately, I don’t require familiarity with a character to enjoy my Transformers toys. Since, he’s a Triple-Changer, we’re going to break tradition and start with Sandstorm’s robot mode.

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Ok, so to call Sandstorm a remold seems hardly fair. I mean, it is, but Hasbro has shown some ridiculously clever abilities with their remolding talents (just look back to Tracks and Wheeljack for a great example of that) and Sandstorm is the next great example of that genius. He may be built on the same body and he may transform mostly the same, but stand him next to Springer and there’s no doubt that he is his own bot. And you know what? I dig him more than Springer. Sacrilege? Maybe, but it’s the truth… I absolutely adore this figure!

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Where to begin? The new head sculpt is really nice. It’s a very traditional Autobot look and features fantastic light piping for his blue eyes. Sandstorm is a lot bulkier than Springer in his upper body. Besides the additional VTOL wings behind his shoulders, his upper arms are beefier and he has a completely new remolded chest. His legs are also redesigned, as they don’t have the back wheels and they have more traditional knee plates over Springer’s knee fins. If Springer looks more like a lithe and agile fighter, Sandstorm looks more like an armored powerhouse and the contrast is certainly welcome. I must say I also find the yellow, orange and black color scheme very satisfying. As with Springer, Sandstorm’s deco is mostly from colored plastic over paint apps and he looks stellar.

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Moving on to the Dune Buggy mode, the similarities between the two molds are more apparent here, but there are still plenty of tweaks to make them worthy of being displayed side by side. Sandstorm has a new ramming bar piece over his front gril, he’s got armor plating that cover his side windows, and new sculpted pieces for the front quarter-panels. He’s also got massively huge back wheels. If there’s anything about this toy that fans may take issue with it’s probably going to be those huge back wheels, but the sculpt is impressive and they add to the overall rugged battle wagon look of the vehicle. As with Springer, you can peg Sandstorm’s gun into the roof. It’s kind of big, but I like the way it can turn and angle so it can fire independently of whatever direction Sandstorm is driving. This is a seriously bitchin’ alt mode.

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The Gunship mode also shows a lot of similarities to Springer’s chopper form, but makes nice use of the largest remolded pieces… those VTOL engines. It’s definitely a cool looking mode, but it also has the same cobbled together look as the Dune Buggy and it works better for that mode than this one. I’m not saying I don’t dig the Gunship, I actually love it, but it does lack the cleaner charm of Springer’s more familiar helicopter mode. In terms of personal appeal, this mode is the only aspect of Sandstorm that loses out to Springer, and it’s still pretty close.

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While Springer came with a sword and a gun, Sandstorm just comes with his missile firing gun. You can still mount it under his chin in VTOL mode, and as already mentioned it will peg into the roof of his Dune Buggy form. You can also peg it into his back for storage when he’s in robot mode.

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Sandstorm is probably the biggest surprise my Transformers collection has had in a long while. I knew he was coming, and I expected very little from him. I wasn’t even going to actively hunt for him. Nonetheless, in hand I think he’s the best Transformer I’ve picked up this year. He’s not only an amazing stand-alone figure, but I can’t help but appreciate and respect the engineering and planning that went into building him off of Springer’s body. Taking a figure as loved and distinctive as Springer and building another totally unique and equally amazing figure from it is a work of toy-crafting genius that deserves to be recognized.

Transformers Generations: Springer by Hasbro

I know, I just did two days of Transformers, but I wanted to get to Springer this week, so I decided to just make it a TF Trifecta and toss him in now…

Of Hasbro’s new Triple-changers, I was far more excited to get Blitzwing over Springer. Well, we all know how that turned out… but let’s not dwell on that any longer. It’s not that I have anything against Springer, but my interest in Transformers began to wane a bit after the movie, I never owned Springer’s original toy, and so I don’t have the same nostalgia toward his character as I do Blitzwing. Granted, IDW’s comics have done their part to make him a stand out character in my eyes. But either way, you don’t need to have a strong attachment to the character when his toy is as amazing as this one is.

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There’s the Generations packaging with an added 30th Anniversary logo. I do dig the presentation here. The window is large and shows off the figure in his robot form alongside a very nice piece of character art. The box also points out that Springer is a Triple-changer! There’s a bio on the back as well. As with Blitzwing, I’m going to break tradition and look at Springer’s robot mode first.

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Springer’s bot mode is nothing short of glorious. Both the head sculpt and the general design of the body are both perfect for the character. I love the proportions on this guy. When I first saw pictures, I thought his hips were too narrow making his legs look funny, but now that I have the figure in hand, I find that not to be the case at all. There’s so many cool little things about his design, like the way the wheels end up on his shoulders and legs, the armor plates that fold down over his shoulder wheels, the front of the car/helicopter makes a perfect chest, the angle of the armor plates coming up from behind his shoulder, the fins that make up his knees. Even the head sculpt is perfect… I wouldn’t change a thing. I could go on and on gushing, but suffice it to say Hasbro hit a homerun here. It’s all the more impressive to say that a robot this beautiful is also a Triple-changer.

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Springer sticks fairly close to the G1 Springer deco. You get a pleasing mix of green, yellow, light grey and dark grey. Springer uses very few paint apps and makes use of colored plastic, which serves the figure very well. The yellow plastic is particularly beautiful and looks great alongside the green. He has an Autobot emblem stamped toward the bottom of his chest.

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Springer comes with two weapons. You get a sword and a rather large double barreled gun/missile launcher. Both weapons have places on his alt modes. The sword becomes the rotor blades for his helicopter form, and the gun can mount on top of his car mode or under the chin of his helicopter mode. Either one of the weapons can also peg into his back in robot mode for storage. Both weapons are excellent. The gun is appropriately oversized for a Wrecker and I have to admit the way his sword converts from the rotors is rather genius.

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Let’s move on to Springer’s armored car mode next. The package lists him as only a “2” in terms of difficulty, which surprised me, but it certainly turns out to be true. Springer is quite easy to convert. His car mode is pure bad ass with some sleek and sexy contouring matched with some rugged-looking armored sides and spoilers hanging off the back. I’ll concede that there are some issues getting everything locked together just right, but he does hold together quite well and rolls along great. This mode would be totally acceptable to me for a regular Transformer, so it’s all the more impressive from a Triple-changer.

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And then there’s the helicopter mode, which to me is the weaker of the three, but still acceptable. I love helicopters! I have stacks of books and magazines about them. I can easily lose myself in reading about their stats and designs. There are some butt-ugly real-word helicopters out there, so the fact that Springer’s chopper mode isn’t all that easy on the eye doesn’t bother me so much. It does a fairly good job of concealing the tires, and I do like the way the hood of the car splits to become the outriggers. It’s a perfectly passable helicopter, but this is the mode that screams Triple-changer to me.

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There’s no doubt in my mind that Springer is one of the best Transformers that Hasbro has put out in a while. He’s the perfect update to the character, he’s well designed and thankfully his engineering doesn’t suffer from any of the problems we saw with Blitzwing. I’d also point out that the careful use of colored plastic shows that Hasbro can cut back on paint apps without detracting from the figure at all. This figure is fun to transform, but more importantly he’s hard to put down in robot mode because he’s such a solid and highly poseable figure.

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It’s worth mentioning that Springer was one of the first characters created by the now prolific third-party not-Transformer toy companies. Fansproject’s Warbot Defender was created because there was a large demand for the character and yet Hasbro seemed unwilling to deliver. Well, now they have, and it’s almost like Hasbro had something to prove. If there is an undeclared war going on between Hasbro and the third-party companies, I’d say Springer is a major victory for the home team. He was a long time coming, but having him in hand, this $22 figure sure makes me happy I didn’t spend the $100 on Warbot Defender.

Transformers Generations: Blitzwing by Hasbro.

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

That sums up my feelings for this figure. Thanks for stopping by. Don’t forget to like me on Facebook. Please contribute to my Kickstarter Project to support my Blitzwing and Springer hardcore Slash Fic Novel, Tanks for the Reach Around. See y’all tomorrow…

Oh… ok, I’ll elaborate. If a figure sucks, it’s not a big deal to me. I can either not buy it or if I did buy it, just toss it into a bin and be done with it. It sucks, why should I bother with it? I move on. But when a figure shows glimmerings of greatness… when a figure teases with potential and yet stumbles because of stupid, easily fixed design flaws, it really cheeses me off. That’s especially the case when it’s a figure based on a character I love and have strong nostalgic feelings for. I love Blitzwing for a lot of reasons. One, he was the only Triple-changer that I owned as a kid and I loved playing with him. Two, “Triple Takeover” is one of my favorite episodes of the Sunbow series. In it, Blitzwing has that one classic line of dialogue where he says to a human, “Tell me what’s on your mind or I’ll splatter it on the wall and see for myself” It’s so bewilderingly and inappropriately brutal for a children’s cartoon that it makes me smile every time I hear it. And finally, Blitzwing is a jet that turns into a tank. He dominates in both land and air. Oh yeah, and his name is Blitzwing… that’s awesome. Hasbro finally gives him a greatly needed update and they stumble on some of the stupidest little things.

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I’ve got a lot to say, so I’m not going to waste time on the packaging. I’ll cover the packaging more when I do my feature on Springer next week. Let’s just dive in. And I’m going to break tradition here and start with Blitzwing’s robot mode…

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…I think it’s fantastic. Look at him. He’s everything I would want in an update to Blitzwing. He’s well-proportioned, the treads look fine on his legs, and the sculpting and painted detail that flanks the cockpit on his chest resembles the stickers on the old toy. You also get some display options, like whether or not to point his shoulder wings out or fold them back (I prefer the later) and you can choose to display him with his tank barrel up or back. I think both look fine, but my old G1 toy was so loose from play that it usually defaulted to the down position. Blitzwing comes with a sword and a gun, both of which can be utilized in his alt modes. I’m not often a fan of swords with my Transformers, but I really like the sculpt on Blitzwing’s sword.

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Yes, Blitzwing has a controversial face change gimmick. I don’t care about the extra faces. It’s an unnecessary fanwank back to the TF: Animated figure in a figure that should be a nod back to the original G1 character. The faces are too difficult to change anyway. I did it once and I thought I was going to scrape the rubbery faces off with my thumb nail. Seriously, I’m not even going to photograph them. Forget about them. Some have groused over the default G1 style face, but I’m fine with it.

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Of course, Blitzwing’s robot mode has one really shitty flaw. The shoulders do not stay pegged in. If I so much as touch his arms, they unpeg and flop around. I’ve tried fiddling with them. I’ve tried Peaugh’s trick, which sadly doesn’t work on my figure. I’ve even tried gumming them up with blue tack. Nothing works. If you squeeze the shoulders while manipulating his arms, they stay in place, but anything else and the entire shoulder assembly just crumbles apart. A simple tab that actually snapped into place would have fixed this whole fatal issue.

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Let’s do Blitzwing’s jet mode next, because next to the problem shoulders, it’s here where I find the figure stumbles the most. For a Triple-changer, I think the jet mode looks pretty good, It was really tough for me to get everything to peg in the way it’s supposed to, but after a couple of times, I finally got it down. If you don’t do it exactly right the arms that make up the back of the aircraft constantly want to pop out and the instructions aren’t a whole lot of help. I’m also not really keen on the way his feet and rear wings just hang off the back on ball joints. You constantly have to adjust them to keep them looking right. I do, however, like the way you can clip his sword to his back to fill up what would otherwise be an unsightly hollow area, and you can even plug his gun on top of that to give him some extra firepower. Like I said, this is not a bad jet mode for a Triple-changer. So what’s the problem?

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The f’cking rubbery nosecone. It simply will not close up over his giant spring-loaded head no matter what I do. It never closes completely and given a little time it will default to the mess you see above. Fortunately, there’s a cheap fix for this…

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Yup, take off Blitzwing’s head. It slides right out. So, yeah… I have to decapitate him in order to transform him, and even then the nosecone doesn’t really lock up all that well. Here’s where I think Hasbro ‘s intrepid band of designers should have reasoned: “It’s very probable that the fans would rather have a robot with a head small enough to transform properly over one with a terribly executed face change gimmick.”  Seriously, I don’t mind the gimmick being there, but obviously if they had omitted it, the head could have been downsized enough to make the transformation work. And why make the entire nosecone out of that shitty rubber and not just the tip like on other Transformer jets? Ok, let’s move on to the tank mode.

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I’ve heard people ragging on Blitzwing’s tank mode, but honestly, I think it works Ok. Again, he’s a Triple-changer and I’m willing to forgive certain design flaws. It pegs together fairly well and since the nosecone is concealed under the tank’s body, it tends to work for me a little better than the jet mode. The turret will turn, although it pivots awkwardly toward the front. You can plug his gun into the top and the barrel will fire a missile if you slide it back. There are peg holes on the side if you want to just plug his sword in there rather than have it loose.

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And so, my beloved Blitzwing… one of my most anticipated Transformers figures in a long while, turned out to be a bitter disappointment. Still, I am not in any way sorry I bought him. He looks AMAZING standing on the shelf in robot mode, and to be honest, that’s what he’ll spend most of his time doing anyway. In robot mode, he looks like everything I wanted in an update of the character. But I hate to look at a toy on my shelf and have to think about how poorly designed it is and what a bother it is to transform and know that if I pick him up and play with him his shoulders will fall apart. I’m tempted to buy another and just glue his shoulders in place. It’ll cripple his transformation, but at least I can play around with him in robot mode. Then again, I really don’t want to reward Hasbro for such shitty engineering. I think the saddest thing about Blitzwing is that there’s nothing wrong with this figure that couldn’t have been easily fixed had he spent a little more time on the drawing board.

Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Grimlock by Hasbro

Seems like I can’t go a week without adding more Transformers to my collection, and I’m not complaining about it. The Fall of Cybertron figures have been hard to find around these parts, and I thought for sure I’d have to hunt Grimlock down online, dip into my booze fund, and pay scalper prices. Luckily, I spotted one lone Grimlock on the shelf at my local Target and scooped him up right away. Early production photos of this figure left me a little cold, but I’ve been asking for a Voyager version of Grimmy ever since the disappointing Classics release, so I had to at least give him a chance.

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This is the first time I’m seeing the Generations Voyager box and at first I didn’t know what it was. The familiar G1-style grid seems darker than the cards, but I really dig the artwork and the complex die-cut pattern around the window is beaucoup stylish. I am getting weary of the pointless corner cut-outs and it seems even more awkward when it’s on the bottom of the box. None of that matters, though, because I have no room to save these boxes, so I gleefully shredded it to pieces in order to get at my figure. Grimlock is packaged in robot mode, but we’re going to start out with his dino mode.

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There’s a lot of good and bad in Grimlock’s T-Rex mode. Let’s start with the good. The sculpting is impressive and the coloring is good. I don’t feel the sense of cheap cuts that Hasbro seems to be making with so many other figures in this line. Grimlock is loaded with panel lining and the red mesh paint apps on the panels scattered around his body really make the figure pop. The grey plastic Hasbro used looks fine, and while I would have preferred something a little more vibrant for the gold, it looks ok. Even Grimlock’s play gimmick is cool. Push the lever on the back of Grimlock’s neck and his mouth opens and his eyes and mouth light up with one of the most powerful LED’s I’ve ever seen in a toy. It’s so much better than the crappy light up effects in the Prime toys. All these things add up to a cool looking alt mode.

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Ok, so now for the bad stuff. Grimlock’s dino mode is very hollow. Unless I’m looking at him from the top down, I can’t ignore the cavernous hole in his chest. Next up, his tail is awkwardly proportioned and has zero articulation. Finally, the upper parts of his legs are static, and this has to do with his transformation because they peg into place. You can bend his legs at the knees, but his upper legs stay locked in place, and that’s a big letdown. At least his arms are ball jointed. Any close look at his dino mode makes it clear that Hasbro favored the robot mode over all else. Grimlock probably stays in his alt mode more than almost any other Transformer, so making these kinds of sacrifices on his alt mode are rather suspect.

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My biggest complaint with Classics Grimlock was that Hasbro seemed to go out of their way to change his transformation from the original G1 toy and the result was quite alienating. This version returns to the roots of the G1 transformation, but still manages to muck things up a bit. The thing about G1 Grimlock is that he worked great in both robot and dino mode because of his simple and clever transformation. In spite of being a Transformer, he was a great action figure in both modes and that was certainly a rare thing for a TF back in those days. I would argue that you could take the G1 Grimlock design, make just a few tweaks to improve proportions and articulation and come away with a perfect figure. No need to reinvent the wheel here, Hasbro. Fall of Cybertron’s Grimlock comes close, but then strays away by doing things like making the legs peg into place in dino mode and overcomplicating the conversion of the tail into the legs. Still, at least this version doesn’t have a split dino head for feet, because that was never  the Grimlock that I know.

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And then there’s the robot mode, and this is where the figure truly shines. He’s perfectly proportioned with a hulking upper body, beefy shoulders and sturdy legs. He hits all the points of his G1 design, with the dino head worn as a backpack and his dino feet claws protruding from his wrists. I do kind of miss the wings he had in the G1 toy, but you can still angle the dino arms up if you want to get something a little closer to that aesthetic. The head sculpt is pure Grimlock with some excellent light piping. He’s replete with panel lines and major machinery detail sculpted into his chest and around his neck. The light up gimmick still works in this mode, this time lighting up his chest.

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My other big issue with Classics Grimlock was his size. Grimlock should never be a Deluxe and that problem is certainly solved with this release. Even in the G1 cartoon he was significantly taller than Optimus. This version of Grimlock scales nicely next to my War for Cybertron Prime. Some may say he’s a little too big, but I think he’s just right.

In robot mode, Grimlock features great articulation. His head is ball jointed; his arms rotate at the shoulders and have some lateral movement as well. The elbows are hinged and there are swivels in his biceps and wrists. He legs are ball jointed at the hips, his knees have solid ratchet joints, and there are swivels in his thighs. A waist swivel would have been nice, but what we got is pretty good.

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Grimmy comes with two accessories. You get the energon sword and shield he used in the game. Both are extremely nice pieces. I usually prefer guns with my Transformers, but in this case, the accessories fit the character and he looks great holding them. The only downside is that they don’t store anywhere on him. With all that hollow space in his dino chest, you’d think he could have found a way to store his weapons up there.

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When all is said and done, me like Fall of Cybertron Grimlock. Grimlock no bozo, Grimlock is king. Sure, there are plenty of things I’d rather Hasbro had done differently and there were sacrifices that I feel didn’t need to be made. Still, the near perfection of his bot mode makes up for a lot of the unfortunate things about his dino mode. Fans of Grimlock haven’t received a whole lot of love from Hasbro over the years, so I think this release should go a long way to scratch that itch. Plus, he never gets tired of me telling him about the petro-rabbits.

Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Bruticus by Hasbro

It’s Saturday and I actually have the weekend off! I’ve got a lot of doing nothing ahead of me and I want to get started, so today’s entry will be a quickie. With all five Combaticons in my possession, I’m finally able to merge them into Bruticus. I should forewarn that based on Hasbro’s own photos of the gestalt mode, I was in no hurry to complete him. I bought the Combaticons strictly for their individual modes and to beef up my Decepticon forces. In short, I wasn’t expecting much at all. The end result was a bit of a pleasant surprise for my low expectations.

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I’ll start out by saying that Bruticus is a solid figure that holds together fairly well. He runs into some issues if you try to pose him a lot, but his limbs form a strong lock and his torso is able to carry the weight and stand tall doing it. A gestalt that crumbles when you look at it funny is no fun at all, and Bruticus definitely avoids that issue. Another big plus is that he’s one of the most self-contained combiners that Hasbro has ever produced. If you disregard his gun, he doesn’t require any extra parts to make him work. Each robot transforms into his own component and they lock together. And his gun is rubbish anyway, and I just use that piece to fill out his hollow back. It may seem like a minor thing, but I really respect the engineering required to make him work without a pile of add-on parts. Sure, the Power Core Combiners did it, but their limbs didn’t turn into robots, so they don’t really count.

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The shame of Bruticus is that he’s a three out of five. Onslaught, Brawl, and Swindle all hold up their end of the bargain and look great doing it. Onslaught is beautifully proportioned as the torso and the legs are satisfyingly chunky and solid. The problem is with Blast Off and Vortex. Blast Off is more of a solid arm, but he’s too long and too hollow in the forearm. Vortex, on the other hand (har har), well he’s just a mess. And the two of them are terribly mismatched. Blast Off’s arm mode is longer than Vortex and the hands look like they belong on two different robots.

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The color scheme isn’t as terrible as I envisioned it. Yes, I would have liked it if Brawl was more military green than neon green, but I can live with it. I think Swindle would have been better if he were more mustard colored rather than bright yellow. The theme here, Hasbro, is just tune down the colors because it isn’t 1993 anymore. Onslaught and Blast Off’s colors are just fine. It’s Vortex that wrecks it for me. Vortex wrecks everything… except for the game… he kicked ass in that. The mix of that red and purple are just as bad in his limb mode as they are in his other modes. Screw you, Vortex! You suck!!!

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Let’s face it, Hasbro has not been batting a thousand with their combiners. The Energon line’s attempts were well intentioned but ultimately a mess, saved only by Fanproject’s expensive additional figures and add-on parts. The Power Core Combiners were an interesting experiment, but their use of drones for limbs was a little beyond what we TF fans look for in a true combiner, and most of them were not all that good anyway. With all that being said, Bruticus is definitely one of their better attempts. I’d go so far as to say the torso and legs are quite good, and that ultimately the figure is marred by its unfortunately awkward and mismatched arms. With a little better engineering in Vortex and Blast Off, I think this figure could have been excellent. As it stands, I think it’s just a decent attempt and possibly an instance of lessons learned and a springboard for a better attempt later on down the road.

And that will finish me for the week. I have a lot more Transformers to look at, but in the interest of preventing the tragic condition known as Transformer Fatigue, I’m going to place a one week moratorium on TF features and just to make sure I stick to it, I’m going to make next week a theme and an unconventional one at that. I’ve already promised Monday to another Farscape feature, but after that it’ll be Jabba’s Palace week. That’s right, only Star Wars figures, and only ones connected to Jabba’s Palace. Not only will it keep me off the Transformers features for a week, but it’ll force me to finally open some of the figures I’ve been assembling for my new Jabba display. Catch ya all on Monday.

Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Brawl by Hasbro

Yeah, I bought Vortex last, but I didn’t want to end my look at the Combaticons with such a downer, so I saved Brawl here for the final feature. Not that Brawl is one of the better figures of the team, but he isn’t as terrible as Vortex. He’s solidly average. I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s dive in.

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Transformers. Generations. Fall of Cybertron. Packaging. Seen it. Love it. BUILD GIANT ROBOT!!! Brawl is packaged in robot mode, but as usual we’ll start with his alt mode.

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Ah, the Cybertronian tank. Make a box and put a turret on the top. It doesn’t even need real treads! It hovers!!! It’s the wet dream of any lazy Transformer designer. Back in the day Cybertronian tanks looked a lot more interesting and bad ass. Just look at Beast Machines Tankor. He’s got style. Brawl, on the other hand, just gets by as being a lime green gun platform. It’s a design so average that it makes War for Cybertron Megatron’s tank mode look like a freaking masterpiece. But at least his alt mode isn’t a ROFLCOPTER like poor Vortex. Brawl’s turret turns and the guns can elevate, which is cool. He also stores his handgun in his turret as a little extra firepower. I’m being hard on Brawl, but truth is his alt mode is Ok for what it is. I guess we’ll cut him some slack because he’s technically a triple changer. Not you, Vortex… you get no slack.

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Transforming Brawl into robot mode is easy. If you pick him up and turn him over you can see everything that’s going on. Transforming him into his tank mode looks easy on paper, but in reality it’s kind of a pain in the ass. It’s all about adjusting his arms so that the tabs lock in just right. Like most Transformers, it gets easier the more you do it, but the first couple of times frustrated me, mainly because the payoff isn’t that great.

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Brawl’s robot mode redeems him a bit. Again, he’s not spectacular, but he’s a solid enough looking robot. He has a fairly clean, well-proportioned form and some pretty some cool sculpted detail, like the pistons under his chest. He also has a really cool head sculpt, complete with a faceplate. On the downside, his combiner hinge and the back of the tank just hang down past his legs and are a bit of an eyesore. He’s extremely back heavy and his legs are all loosey goosey so he’s tough to stand up. The situation is made worse because his feet don’t lock into place, so there’s no support there either and they’re prone to just folding back up. Try to stand him and he usually just folds like a house of cards. His coloring comes mostly from his green and black plastic with a little grey here and there. I honestly don’t mind his green as much as I thought I would and at least Hasbro remembered to stamp his Decepticon emblem on his chest, unlike Vortex.

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Brawl certainly has some issues, but I just find him to be a fun figure to play around with. He has good poseability, and I like to think that in robot mode, he can just hunch forward and lob artillery shells from the cannons on his back. You’ve got to like anyone who can do that! He’s still not a lot of toy for $15 as his engineering is overly simple and he has hardly any heft to him at all. I get it. Oil is expensive, plastic is expensive. But I can’t help but wonder why our Deluxes are getting smaller and simpler at the same time Hasbro is bringing Star Wars to 6-inch scale and introducing a new 2-foot tall Titan Class of Transformer.

Well, that wraps up my look at all of the individual Combaticons. Tomorrow we’ll put this week to bed with a look at Bruticus and see if the toy can be as delightfully badass as the character in the game.