Transformers Prime: Thundertron by Hasbro

I’ve been through all the TF: Prime Deluxe figures that I picked up at Ross, but I saved the one Voyager figure that I got for last. He’s Thundertron and I know absolutely nothing about him apart from what’s on the back of the box and that he was only twelve bucks. Was he even in the show? All I know is that he represents a new faction called “Star Seekers” that apparently blames the Cybertronians for the destruction of their planet. Oh yeah, he’s also A GIANT ROBOT SPACE PIRATE THAT TURNS INTO A F’CKING LION!!! I mean… how can that not be awesome? Well, we’re about to find out because truth be told, I’m pretty torn on this guy. I’m also hitting the Johnnie Walker pretty hard today, so you’ve been warned.

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We’ve seen the TF: Prime Voyager packaging here before. I still dig it a lot, but for some reason Thundertron’s box seems extra cluttered and busy to me. Maybe it’s the huge Ross price sticker. The figure comes in a window box and is packaged in robot mode. Good choice, Hasbro, you don’t want the kids to get a good look at this guy’s alt mode before buying it. The window has the usual “Try Me” cut out so that you can check out his crappy weapon. Hey, what do you think about that, Grumpy Cat?

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Thought so. I’m going to break with tradition and start with Thundertron’s robot mode, because it’s the one thing that I love about this figure.

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The head sculpt looks like a call back to G1 Alpha Trion from the Sunbow cartoon. I can’t imagine why that would be intentional, but I calls it likes I sees it. The lion head landing on Thundertron’s chest seems to be an obvious choice for a lion-former, but it still looks pretty good, although I’m not a fan of the way the beard drops behind the lion’s head. What’s the point of being a robot with a beard if you can’t show it off?  The sculpted texture on the shoulder armor looks great, as do the spikes that rise up from those pieces. I’ll also shamefully admit that I’m in love with the fact that you can pull off his foot, turn it into a claw weapon, which leaves him with a peg leg. It’s ridiculous and it makes absolutely no sense on any level and yet I still think it’s both hilarious and cool.

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Thundertron’s deco walks a very strange line between looking either really amazing or really cheap. The white and blue color scheme is quite striking, particularly when you toss in the little bits of gold. I think the combination of regular blue and clear blue plastic looks amazing.  While it’s totally a coincidence that I just looked at MOTUC Frosta yesterday, the truth is if she were a Transformer, this is what her deco would probably look like. I’m also really digging the Star Seeker emblem. If a Transformer Pirate were to have a faction symbol, that is exactly what it should look like! What I don’t like is the quality of the white plastic used here, particularly on the head. It just looks cheap.

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I find transforming Thundertron to be a pain in the ass, not because of any kind of complex engineering, but because it’s such a horrible and abstract lion mode that it’s unclear where anything is supposed to go. You’ve got as good a chance of making this thing look like a lion on your own as you do following the instructions. When you’re done you get this kind of mechanical lion-cricket looking thingy. Wait… is this a FUZOR???  HAVE THE FUZORS RETURNED??? No, it’s just a bad design. Besides, if he were a lion-cricket Fuzor his name would be ROARCHIRP. The name Roarchirp is a trademark of FigureFan Zero LTD. All rights reserved. Call, me Hasbro… we’ll do lunch.

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Even if you can find it in your heart to love something that looks like the progeny of a robot lion and a grasshopper, his beast mode just isn’t fun to play with. You can’t do anything with his front paws without them coming unpegged. Ironically, the ridiculous oversized weapon attaches to the beast mode’s back and would actually be kind of cool if it would stay deployed without holding it. But it doesn’t, so even that glimmer of hope vanishes.

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As a Transformer, I don’t really hold Thundertron in high regard. He doesn’t really look like he belongs on my Transformers display, unless it’s with that hodge-podge shelf of toys from the first Robots in Disguise (1999) series where basically anything goes. He might even fit in with some of the Beast Machine toys, but with the exception of my glorious army of Tankors, I dumped my Beast Machines toys long ago. On the other hand, if I take him as just some crazy Japanese robot figure, I kind of dig him. He’s imaginative, he looks cool enough, and he’s reasonably fun to play around with, so long as I forget he changes into anything. I never would have picked him up for full price, and even at Ross’ deep discount, he was still a take-it-or-leave-it kind of purchase.

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Transformers Prime: Wheeljack by Hasbro

A few weeks back I hit the mother lode of Transformers: Prime figures at Ross and I’m still making my way through them. I think Wheeljack here is the second to the last that I have yet to feature. I did pick up an extra Vehicon, which I couldn’t resist for $5.99, but I already looked at the Vehicon quite a while ago so there’s no need to revisit him. Tonight, I have to go out with friends and get shitfaced a social obligation, so let’s get right to the good stuff…           

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It’s quite possible that this will be the last time we look at the Transformers: Prime Deluxe packaging here on FigureFan Zero. I liked it a lot. While I never would have guessed that a white card could have conveyed the Transformers brand all that well, Hasbro knew what they were doing here because they’re very attractive cards. Every time I walked into the toy aisle and saw the pegs full of this packaging, my eyes would be drawn to them… and then I would wish they weren’t all goddamn Bumblebees. Wheeljack’s character art is ok, but nothing exceptional. The back of the card shows some shots of the toy and has Wheeljack’s little bio blurb. As with all the Deluxes that I picked up at Ross, this figure comes with an episode of the series on DVD and they have all been the same one: “Loose Cannons.” Still, the DVD can easily be re-purposed into something useful.

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I will admit, that it’s an appropriate episode to include with this figure since it was the one which introduced Wheeljack to the show. I didn’t care much for his character in Prime. I would rather they wrote Wheeljack as some kind of eccentric science nerd hanging out with Ratchet than be a former Wrecker ass-kicker. Nevertheless, there’s enough of a G1 homage in the design to make me want the figure. Anyway, Wheeljack comes carded in his vehicle mode, and that is where we will start!

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Hells yeah! That’s an awesome car mode. Wheeljack’s alt form is a dead sexy sports car with curves in all the right places. He locks together well and rolls along great. My only complaint here is it almost looks as if Wheeljack is missing his front bumper. The reason is so that you can attach his twin swords to the front of the car, which I’ll admit is a cool gimmick. You can also attach his swords to the peg holes on the back sides of the car. They don’t seem like they would be very effective weapons when pegged back there, but they do look cool there. I’m also happy to report that the plastic here feels so much better than some of the other TF: Prime Deluxes in my collection.

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Wheeljack’s deco shows just how far these TF:Prime Deluxes have come since Bumblebee. The bare white plastic looks great as do the crisp red and green paint apps. He’s also got a clear blue tinted windshield. Even his tail lights are painted, which may sound like a simple thing, but it’s practically a high-end perk when it comes to these TF: Prime Deluxes. Everything about this car mode really evokes the G1 character to me.

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Transforming Wheeljack is pretty straight forward, although there are a few clever things going on with his arms and legs. It actually took me a few moments to figure out how to do his lower legs and once I realized what was going on I had one of those great “gee whiz” moments when you discover how the engineering works for the first time.

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In robot mode, the G1 Wheeljack homage continues along quite well. The head sculpt is the Wheeljack I know and love only with a little bit of a stylized twist. In the cartoon he has a regular mouth and a face plate for battle and I’m very glad that Hasbro sculpted the figure with the face plate deployed. The curvy car panels look great on his arms and legs and I’m digging the addition of the two panels that rise up from behind his head. Yeah, his proportions are a little off, he’s got a case of the monkey arms, and the windshield kibble hanging off his arms is a little awkward, but the figure still looks great. Wheeljack can hold his swords in both hands.

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Wheeljack is some kind of bad-ass Wrecker, so you’d expect him to have decent articulation and his figure delivers. You get ball joints in the neck, shoulders, hips, and ankles. The arms have hinges just below the shoulder and again at the elbows. The wrists have both swivels and hinges. The knees have ratcheting hinges.

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The deco in robot mode is more or less the same as his car mode. Again, the base white plastic looks great, as does the red and green paint apps. I was a little upset that he didn’t come with a faction symbol. I know that Hasbro has left them out of some other recent figures while they’re present on the package figure shots. In this case, however, he doesn’t have any on the package pics and I’m thinking there’s some reason in the series that he doesn’t have one? Either way, I dipped into my file of repro labels and gave him an Autobot insignia anyway.

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Wheeljack is a great figure and everything about him shows how far the TF: Prime line has come since the beginning. There’s nothing about this toy that feels it was a victim of Hasbro’s cost-cutting cutbacks. The plastic looks and feels great, the paint apps are good, and the engineering is clever and delivers a satisfying transformation. He feels like the quality of figure we used to get a few years back before all this “holy shit, plastic is expensive” nonsense. If you’re a fan of the show or just love G1 Wheeljack, I think there’s something to love about this figure for everyone. The joke is for every five visits I make to Ross, I probably only find something worthwhile a couple of times. But, if Wheeljack hadn’t turned up there I probably never would have owned him and that makes me want to keep checking. At least there’s a Five Guys Hamburgers next door, so it’s never a wasted trip.

Transformers Prime: Cyberverse Star Hammer w/ Wheeljack by Hasbro

I’m still working my way through the TF: Prime lot that I got from Ross last week. Today we’ll check out the Cyberverse Star Hammer vehicle bundled with a tiny Legion Class Wheeljack. While I haven’t picked up a whole lot of Cyberverse, I generally dig the idea of making a small line of Transformers that have vehicles and playsets. It taps into the whole Action Master and Micro Master gimmicks from back in the day. The Star Hammer looks more like a ground vehicle to me, but it’s obviously patterned after Wheeljack’s spaceship, the both delightfully and ridiculously named “Jackhammer,” as seen in the episode “Loose Cannons.”

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The toy comes in a window box that shows off everything you get and does a good job of showcasing the various features of the toy, even if it doesn’t tell you much about what it’s supposed to be. While the Star Hammer is the bulk of what you’re paying for here, I’m going to start off with Wheeljack.

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I’m not gonna lie, this guy is kind of impressive. His vehicle mode is solid and it looks like a shrunk down version of the Deluxe toy. He’s mostly white plastic with a black windshield and he has some red and green paint apps, that we’ve all come to associate with the Wheeljack character. The transformation engineering is pretty good for such a small toy and when you’re done converting him you get a good looking little robot. Between the paint apps, quality of the plastic, and the engineering, I honestly feel like this little guy is better executed than some of the Deluxes I’ve looked at recently. The paint work alone on this tiny bot is a thousand times better than what we got on Deluxe Bumblebee. Hey, Hasbro. How come you can paint this guy’s tail lights, but you can’t do it on the $15 figure of one of your main characters? Even his articulation, which features ball joints in the shoulders and hips and hinged knees makes him a perfectly playable little figure. Wheeljack also has a pair of blue translucent energon blades, which he can hold in his hands or clip onto his roof in car mode. This little guy is fun!

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The Star Hammer is basically a mobile weapons platform, with a one-seat cockpit and two configurations. One mode has the side panels perpendicular to the ground, the other angles them out more like wings and deploys the two large missile launchers forward and reveal gunner stations in the back. The first mode allows for one figure to sit in the cockpit, the second mode allows for two more to stand behind the launchers. The conversion is automatic just by sliding the lever on the top. The design is nothing special, but it is a pretty good toy version of Wheeljack’s ship as seen in the cartoon.

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The electronic gimmick lights up a translucent blue energon blaster, which is attached to the toy via a big ugly cable. The idea is that you can detach it and have other figures wield it, so long as they don’t stray too far from the vehicle. The LED is extremely weak and while it’s supposed to light up the entire gun on the top of the cockpit, it barely lights up the little one. If you have any of the TF: Prime Voyager Class figures, you’ll know how little to expect from the light up gimmick. If you’re into this thing for the electronics, you might be disappointed.  

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I don’t think the Star Hammer is a bad toy, but I’m not really wowed by it either. The conversion is cool enough and it feels like it’s made out of better, sturdier plastic than we’ve been usually getting out of Hasbro these days. If nothing else, it is a fun way to give your little Legion Class dudes some major firepower to ride around on. I think it says a lot that I’m more impressed with the little Wheeljack figure than the Star Hammer itself. If the idea of giving your Transformers converting vehicles doesn’t already excite you, then I doubt this thing is going to win you over. On the other hand, if you’re all about the concept, than you’ll likely get some fun out of this set. All I know is if I had a little Wheeljack like this guy when I was a kid, I wouldn’t have ever left the house without dropping him into my pocket.

Transformers Prime: Sergeant Kup by Hasbro

TF: Prime has had its tenuous run in the toy aisles and now it’s time for Beast Hunters to replace it. You know what that means? All those TF: Prime figures that I couldn’t find because the pegs were clogged with Bumblebees and Cliffjumpers are now starting to show up in the Toy Graveyards better known as Marshalls and Ross. I scored quite a bit of Prime goodness on my last trip through there, and today I’m going to look at the best of my finds: Sergeant Kup. He’s a figure that I would have gladly paid $15 for if I found him at Target or Walmart, but as it turns out, I was destined to find him sitting at Ross for $6.99.

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It’s been a while since we saw the TF: Prime packaging. I still dig it a lot. The extra-long card, the character art, the pleasing deco, it makes me want to buy any Prime figure that isn’t f’ing Bumblebee. This one includes a DVD with an episode of the show on it. I saved the DVD, but I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet. Actually, I sat down and watched it just before posting this feature. I thought Dreadwing was pretty cool, but if I had to listen to Bulkhead call Wheeljack “Jackie” one more time, I think I would have vomited. Kup comes carded in his vehicle mode, so let’s start there.

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Kup’s alt mode mingles with his G1 roots by being a greenish pick-up truck, only instead of having a Cybertron design, he’s definitely an Earth style vehicle. He has four doors and two big black drums in his bed, which convert into his guns. They can also be removed and pegged into his doors to give him some firepower in alt mode. He features clear windows, some nice coppery paint for his front grill and roof lightbar, and some light green accents on his hood and doors. With a little effort, you can even open his hood while he’s in his truck mode. Changing him to robot mode is pretty easy, despite some very clever engineering.

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Man, do I dig Kup’s bot mode. He’s a little stocky, but he has a clean, humanoid design that is both original and inspired. Kup looks like he can take a pounding, as his head sits protected in his recessed engine compartment with part of the front bumper making his shoulders and a clear, faked-out windshield plate on his chest. The head sculpt is excellent and fits the character well. I’m not crazy about the way the hood hangs off his back, and it’s blatantly obvious that a simple hinge would have fixed this, but this figure already has more engineering than I’ve come to expect out of modern Deluxes, so I won’t complain too much. The sculpt itself is busy with detail and he’s a good example of how when used correctly with the right sculpt, even a moderate level of paint apps can make the figure look great.

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What can Hasbro possibly do to make this figure any better? Give him a pair of great weapons. Kup comes with two big hand cannons. They don’t shoot anything, they don’t convert into anything, they just look great. He can clip them onto his arms, but I prefer him holding them. You can, however, combine them together to make one big cannon, which he can wield on his arm like a Megatron-style fusion cannon. Yes, these things are very cool and they even store sensibly in Kup’s alt mode.

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Kup is easily my favorite of the Prime Deluxes in my collection, and it goes to show you that even Hasbro’s downsized Deluxes can make me happy. He’s a great mix of original engineering, fun articulation, thoughtful paintwork, and a great sculpt. He’s also brimming with personality, which is always a plus for me because I haven’t been into the Prime fiction at all. It’s a shame that poor casepack ratios and pegs choked with Bumblebees prevented this figure from seeing the light of day in my local toy aisles, but I certainly won’t complain about being able to pick him up for half price.

Transformers Prime: Hot Shot by Hasbro

It took me a while, but Hot Shot here is the last Transformer sitting on my new acquisitions pile, so I thought we’d knock him out this weekend before I start getting around to buying some more. He is a repaint of the Deluxe Bumblebee, and so well done that I didn’t even realize it when I bought him. I’ve got some social obligations this weekend, so I’m going to try to get through this guy pretty quickly. Being a repaint, I should be able to be brief and still give him his due.

Yes sir, I still really dig the packaging for Prime. I wouldn’t have thought that a largely white deco would have been a good idea, but these cards look great on the pegs and make me want to buy them. Hot Shot has some particularly nice character art on the oversized card and he is packaged in his vehicle mode, with a bio blurb on the back of the card. Not much new to say here, so let’s move on to the figure.

Out of the package and it’s amazing the differences that a simple repaint can make. Of course, it helps that Hasbro put a lot more effort into Hot Shot’s deco than Bumblebee’s. Hot Shot’s car mode is blue with some stylized flames tampo’d on the sides and the hood, which looks loads better than BB’s bare yellow plastic and sloppy black paint. The windows and headlights here are translucent blue plastic and Hot Shot even has painted tail lights. The differences here aren’t just about color and design preference, Hot Shot just features better workmanship. Seriously, standing next to this guy, Bumblebee just looks like a bad custom job. I love the way this guy looks and with a little tweaking, he could have made a nice  homage to G1 Tracks.

In robot mode, Hot Shot sports a brand new head, which features flip down goggles. They’re a cool nod back to the visor on Armada Hot Shot and they offer a little variety on how he can be displayed, although I still prefer him with them up. His robot deco introduces grey plastic and red paint to the mix, and the resulting combination really makes this figure pop. I’m still far behind on watching the show, so I know nothing about the character, but I do know that this guy looks a lot better than Bumblebee standing on my shelf. Oh, did I mention that already? Well, it’s worth mentioning again.

As a repaint, Hot Shot features the same articulation as Bumblebee. His arms rotate and have lateral movement at the shoulders and swivels and hinges at the elbows, but no wrist articulation. His legs are ball jointed at the hips, with additional swivels just below those ball joints. He’s also hinged at the knees and ankles. There’s no torso articulation, but the head is ball jointed at the neck, and as already mentioned, his visor can flip up and down.

Hot Shot comes with the same blasters as Bumblebee. I love these things. You can mount them on his arms or combine them into one big gun. They can also be plugged into the engine socket when Hot Shot is in his alt mode.

Hasbro really won me over with this sculpt when I bought Bumblebee, but lost me with all the cheap cuts and sloppy work on his deco. Hot Shot really fixes all of those problems and shows how much better this mold can look with some quality paint. It makes me question why Hasbro would put so much effort into Hot Shot, while leaving one of the main characters to scrape by. I will admit that I would love to see this mold repainted the red Rodimus style deco that Hot Shot got in Armada and Energon, but this one is still plenty good. In fact, the only bad thing here is that Hot Shot, along with Bumblebee, is still clogging all the pegs and keeping the other Deluxes from making it out of the stockrooms.

Transformers Prime: Bulkhead by Hasbro

Primus knows, I haven’t been the biggest champion of any of the modern Transformers TV series, but I’ll happily admit right now that I dig Bulkhead. While most of the characters we see in Transformers are all reworks from the G1 days, Bulkhead is one of the few new characters that has survived to be re-imagined across two otherwise unrelated series. I find him to be a really endearing character, good comic relief, and one that deserves to be added to the catalog of Transformers that will continue to get recycled through future reboots. As a result, I was pretty excited to pick up the TF: Prime Bulkhead, especially since none of the TF: Animated versions have found their way into my collection.

Transformers Prime… Voyager packaging… Yeah! It’s essentially the same thing we’ve seen with all the TF: Prime Voyagers. It’s very cool, Bulkhead is packaged in robot mode, and there’s a hole in the window that lets you try the shitty light up Mech Tech style weapon. Let’s get back with tradition and look at Bulkhead’s vehicle mode first…

But, before we get to the figure, here’s a quick Public Service Announcement from FigureFan. Kids, when your new toy comes in a window box, take a look at it before you buy it. I didn’t, and my Bulkhead has scratches all over his hood. Granted, the figure was in robot mode in the package, but I still could have seen the scratches if I looked hard enough. I could take it back, but it was the only Bulkhead they had, so I guess I’ll consider it the ultra-rare “Battle Damaged” Bulkhead and live with it.

In alt mode, Bulkhead is a big military vehicle. I’d say he was supposed to be some kind of jeep, but he’s obviously a lot bigger than the other cars, so I’m going to go with some kind of variation on a Hummer. His vehicle mode is solid enough and while I’m not a big fan of painted windows, at least the front windshield is transparent. There are some seams on the sides, but for the most part they synch up with the doors so they aren’t terribly unsightly. A socket on the roof allows you to plug in his battle ram, or if you want your toy to look terrible, you can plug in the light up Mech Tech thingy. All in all he’s a solid toy and rolls along great.

There are some shell-former shenanigans going on with Bulkhead’s transformation, but it’s mostly with the arms. It took me a couple of tries to get them locked down just right. Apart from that, he’s got a pretty cool and innovative design that gets him into and out of his robot mode.

I am a big fan of Bulkhead’s robot mode. In fact, the only thing that bothers me about it is that he seems a little short when standing alongside the Deluxe figures. That having been said everything else is pure love. Bulkhead’s TV design has some wonky proportions, but this figure makes them work really well. I love the way the doors form extra armor plates on his chest and the Autobot symbol on his shoulder armor is a nice touch too, especially since it isn’t upside down like Starscream’s Decepticon shoulder emblem. Bulkhead’s headsculpt is right on the mark and his jaw is even a little articulated. I’ve heard tales of him being really hollow and awkward in the torso, but I don’t see it at all, and even when viewed from the back he’s got a nice squared off backpack with wings.

Oh yeah, there’s one other design element that I wanted to nitpick. Hey, Hasbro, what is up with the faked out wheels on the robots lately? I noticed these when I featured Cliffjumper and here they are again. Right on the outside of Bulkhead’s legs you can see clearly sculpted tires that have been left unpainted. Bulkhead is a four-wheeled vehicle and all of his actual wheels are accounted for, so I have no idea why Hasbro is doing this, but little things like this have a habit of eating away at me when I’m trying to sleep.

Besides the light up weapon that I already tossed in a bin, Bulkhead comes with his battle ram, which can be attached to either arm. I really wish he had some kind of serviceable spiked ball attachment for his hand. Alas, Hasbro incorporated that into the Mech Tech weapon, making Bulkhead the only figure which is really affected by the fact that I throw those out.

Yes sir, Bulkhead is a great figure. I like him so much, that I might be persuaded to pick up one that isn’t scratched to shit if I happen to find him again. He’s loads of fun to play around with in both robot and vehicle modes and he really captures everything I love about the character. But best of all, he brings me one bot closer to completing my core Autobot team. I’ve yet to find Arcee on the pegs, but I’m thinking I’ll have to bite the bullet and snag her online.

And that leaves me with just one more TF: Prime figure to look at, but I’m going to have to come back to him. Schedules must be kept and the trains must run on time. Tomorrow I’ll start looking at some more of the odds and ends that I picked up from the Toy Show a few weeks back.  

A rather large box from Matty Collector landed on my stoop yesterday afternoon, so there’s going to be a little change of plan.

I’m bumping my original plans for this week back so I can check out the new goodies. I’ll kick things off tomorrow with DC Club Infinite Earth’s monthly figure, Poison Ivy. Then we’ll get into the Voltron goodness with Keith on Tuesday and the Black Lion on Wednesday. Thursday I’ll bring it back to DC with the quarterly oversized figure, Elasti-Girl, and the we’ll cap off the week with a look at the big boy himself, Voltron in all his ginormous glory.

Transformers Prime: Dreadwing by Hasbro

The TF: Prime pegs here may be crammed with nothing but Bumblebees and Cliffjumpers, but the Voyagers have certainly been arriving in a timely manner. Much to my wallet’s chagrin, I was able to find both Bulkhead and Dreadwing sitting on the shelf the other day and I couldn’t help but grab them both up. Dreadwing seems to be the hotter of the two, and definitely the one I was most anticipating, so let’s check him out, and we’ll look at Bulkhead tomorrow.

Dreadwing comes in the same style window box that we saw with Megsy, Prime, and Screamer. He’s packaged in his robot mode, which is a great choice on Hasbro’s part. I defy any Transformer collector to see this guy standing there in the box and not have to take him home. The window has the “Try Me” hole for the token shitty Mech Tech style weapon. The fact that it lights up just draws attention to how horrible it looks and we will speak no more of it. The side panel features a little bio on Dreadwing and the back shows him in both his modes. I know, I usually do the alt mode first, but the transformation and alt mode really irk me, so I’m going to get all the gushing out of the way first.

In robot mode, Dreadwing is an example of all that is right with this line. He’s a satisfying size for a Voyager class figure and I’m pretty sure he’s meant to be based on the Skyquake character in the TV show. The coloring is a pleasing mix of deep blue and light grey with some translucent yellow parts peppered about, including the cockpit on his chest. The head sculpt is fantastic and the face is beautifully painted gold with red eyes. He’s a great mix of organic curves and jagged plates and I really dig the way his jet exhaust hangs off his back like a jetpack. Dreadwing also comes with a sword, which he can hold in either hand.

So about the transformation… I love figuring out the transformations on these guys by myself, and that’s a good thing because Dreadwing’s instructions not only suck, they are downright misleading. The changeover to jet mode features a lot of stuff moving at once, but for the most part it is surprisingly intuitive, until you get to the part with the tail section. Looking at it, it’s easy to see what’s supposed to happen and where everything pegs in, but when I set that up Dreadwing’s hands were just hanging there about half an inch past the exhaust of the jet. “That can’t be right,” says I, “Let’s consult the instructions.” No, really… I said that! Sure enough, the instructions indicate I’m doing it right, but it doesn’t show the robot hands hanging off the back. I had to go online and find some gallery pics to show me that the instructions are pretty damned misleading, and that I was doing it right all along. While omitted from the instruction illustrations, and carefully hidden in the product pics with tricky perspectives, the hands really do hang off the back end of the jet. I call bullshit, Hasbro!

Overall the jet mode looks pretty great from almost every angle, just don’t look at the back. Sure, there’s a lot of robot kibble on the undercarriage, but you know what? That’s a fact of life for most Transformer jets, and I’m fine with that. The blue and gold deco looks very nice and really reminds me of Revenge of the Fallen Dirge.  The wings on his Decepticon insignia are a nice touch that reminds me of the Cybertron Defense emblems used for some of the Autobots in the Cybertron line. Dreadwing holds together very well and sits nicely, provided you can get his front landing gear down, I had quite a struggle with it. Nonetheless, those hands hanging off the back are just terrible. It really feels like they either just ran out of money while engineering the toy, or they got that far and just said, screw it… that’s good enough. Either way, it’s one of the most overt examples of rampant robot kibble in a Voyager alt mode that I can remember since Hasbro just left poor Energon Ironhide’s head sitting right on top of his roof.

I think the biggest shame with Dreadwing is that 99 percent of this figure is so damn good that those hands hanging off the jet mode just makes me weep. Even if you could just pull them off, it would have been an improvement. Ultimately, the good still outweighs the bad here, and I say that mainly because I display my Transformers in their robot mode and damn if Dreadwing isn’t one great looking bot. Tomorrow, we’ll see how Bulkhead fares!

Transformers Prime: Cliffjumper by Hasbro

Ok, I’ve decided to wrap up Transformers Prime Week today, rather than go through the weekend, because I’ve got other stuff I want to move on to. I’ll be sure to randomly pepper the rest of the figures throughout the weeks ahead. But with only one slot left and so many figures, which one to do? Which one to do? Well, the answer was pretty obvious. It had to be Cliffjumper. Why? Because he’s a Transformer that was voiced by The Rock, goddammit! And because he is definitely one of my favorite figures in the line.

We’re back to the Deluxe packaging and I’m still digging it. You get a nice big card with cool character art and a big bubble that shows off the figure in its vehicle mode, with the weapon beside it. One point of contention here is that the character art shows Cliffjumper firing his arm cannon, but the arm cannon is only featured in the First Edition mold and not this one. The back of the card has a bio blurb, which fails to mention the fact that Cliffjumper has been trashed, zombified, ripped in two, thrown down a chasm, and finally blown up. That’s cool, because I prefer my Cliffjumper very much alive. Hasbro has since put out an Exclusive zombie version of Cliffjumper, but that’s another story for another day. Let’s tear him open and see what’s what…

 

Cliffjumper’s vehicle mode is a 70’s muscle car and that makes me all kinds of happy. We get precious few older cars throughout the history of the Transformers. The last time a 70’s style car was done was back in the Cybertron series with Downshift. As is par for the course, you get very few paint apps showing on the car mode; instead it’s just molded in a pleasing shade of red plastic, with a little silver and black here and there. As always, I dig the clear windows, and the soft steer horns on the hood are a cool little touch. The car mode does have a bit of seaming and some of these are tough to close all the way when transforming him. He’s also got a little kibble, as his feet are protruding down from his undercarriage just in front of his back wheels.

Transforming Cliffjumper isn’t too difficult, and he does use some auto-morphing, which works quite well. His proportions are a little wonky, as he has pretty long arms and short, stubby legs. I didn’t remember him being like that in the show,  but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the episode with him in it, so I’m sure it’s perfectly fine. Cliffjumper does use a lot of fakery in his robot mode. The blacked out windows on his chest are obviously not the real windows from the car mode, and the horns on his head are not from the actual hood ornament. Normally this kind of fakery irks me, but it’s kind of hard to argue with the results. Cliffjumper’s robot mode looks way too complex to be a Deluxe figure, and that’s kind of cool.

One thing I don’t get about Cliffjumper’s robot mode is the faked out, molded tires that appear behind his thighs. They’re unpainted, so they don’t really stand out, but I’m not sure why they’re there at all, since all four of his real tires are clearly visible on his legs and shoulders. Weird!

Cliffjumper comes with a Battle Hammer, which can peg into two different holes on his car mode. There’s one on the roof and one where the gas cap would be. He can also hold it in either hand in his robot mode. I prefer to have him hold it a different way, at which point it becomes a really big gun, rather than a hammer, because really big guns are better than hammers.

No doubt, Cliffjumper is a cool figure. He gets extra points for being a boffo 70’s muscle car and for having a great looking robot mode. I should take issue with how faked out his robot mode is, but the toy is fun and it’s just hard to hate on him. He’s one of the few Deluxes that I’ve picked up that I wouldn’t have actually minded paying the full $15 that he’s selling for on the pegs, and that’s saying a lot considering he’s on the smallish side and seriously lacking paint apps. I’m pretty torn on whether I like him better than the First Edition Cliffjumper, a figure I do not and probably will never own. On the plus side the FE version has his arm cannon and doesn’t use the window fakery for his chest. On the other hand, The RID version’s chest looks less boxy and more refined. In the end, it’s kind of a toss-up.

And that wraps up Transformers Prime Week. I’ll try to get to what I have left over the next couple of weeks. I’m pretty sure I’m committed to this line now, as I’ve really enjoyed all the figures I’ve looked at so far. Tomorrow we’ll check out this month’s DC Club Infinite Earths figure from Matty Collector. I haven’t decided yet whether or not to take Sunday off, but we’ll see how things play out.

Transformers Prime: Megatron by Hasbro

Just like with Optimus Prime, it’s hard to have a good Transformers series without a good Megatron. And if anything, Megsy can be the bigger risk, since there really isn’t any standard rule for what the Megster should turn into. We’ve seen everything from gun to tank to truck to misshapen Cybertronian crab thing. A good Megatron is important to me, so I was really happy to see that the Transformers Prime figure really nailed him… at least most of him.

There’s Megsy in package. I don’t have a lot more to say about the Voyager window boxes. They look good, they are collector friendly, and there’s a butt load of little strings tying the figure into his tray. Megatron actually has two extra weapons mounted beside him in his tray. One is his Mech Tech Fusion Cannon and the other is some kind of battle spike thing. We’ll get to those in a little bit, but first let’s get him out of the package and look at his alt mode.

I’ve been converting Transformers ever since I got Thundercracker and Prowl back in 1984. I’m pretty good at it. I don’t usually need to look at instructions, and a big part of the fun for me is trying to figure them out on my own. That having been said transforming Megatron was a real pain in the ass. Part of the problem is that his alt mode is a completely abstract Cybertron vehicle and even with the picture in front of me, it was hard to figure out where everything was supposed to wind up. The other problem is that there are some real fidgety maneuvers that need to be just right, particularly with the arms and shoulders. Is it all worth it? Let’s look at his alt mode.

So, it’s some kind of Cybertronian space cruiser. It looks ok. At least it doesn’t look like the unholy offspring of a horseshoe crab and an erector set like Revenge of the Fallen Megatron did. Point is, I’ve seen worse. And hey, a big part of the alt mode makes good use of Megatron’s Mech Tech-style Fusion Cannon weapon, which is more than I could say for Prime and Starscream. You actually combine his two weapons and plug it onto the top of the vehicle. They’re more part of the vehicles actual design than something just stuck onto it, and I appreciate that. If you transform him properly, this mode holds together pretty well. The bottom line, though is that I didn’t find it fun to transform him, and the space cruiser still feels like a token alt mode, so I doubt I’ll be doing it a lot.

Megatron’s robot mode, on the other hand, is pure love. He’s the spitting image of his on screen model and I absolutely adore him. Like Optimus, there’s a little bit of Bayformer mixed in with is design, particularly the head sculpt, but I think the end result is a really cool compromise. There’s not a lot of paintwork on this figure, but the grey and purple deco looks perfect. While I could take or leave the translucent plastic used on Prime, I think it really works well on Megatron. The way the way his armor wraps around it makes it appear more like part of his inner workings rather than Hasbro just using translucent plastic for the sake of it. The curvy designs in his torso look great, and his flared up shoulders look appropriately menacing. The plastic used for his chest even has a slight texturing to simulate that brushed steel look of the TV show model. The proportions on this figure are also really good. His forearms are bulky, but not too much, and his lower legs really give me an animated G1 Megatron kind of vibe.

There’s one thing I cannot compromise on where Megatron is concerned, and that’s his Fusion Cannon. Alas, while Megatron’s Fusion Cannon works well on his alt mode, it doesn’t fare so well when used with his robot mode. Part of the problem is the Mech Tech feature, which converts it into a battle blade. It feels completely unnecessary and the light up gimmick doesn’t really work. But worst of all, in order to accommodate the conversion, the Fusion Cannon only pegs in at one spot and not very well. The result is it’s always falling off. I’ve crammed a little blue tack into the hole, which seems to have helped, but I resent having to do that. As for the cannon itself, it just doesn’t look all that good. I’m thankful that it’s there, but here’s one instance where if a third-party were to make a better looking replacement, I would jump on it.

As much as I still prefer my boxy, animated G1 Megsy, there is a certain appeal to this version’s rounded edges and perfect proportions. There’s a ton of different influences at work in this figure, but they’re all collected from Megatron designs through the ages and so the end result really works incredibly well. I’ve actually gone so far as to move him onto my desk, just so I can glance over at him while I’m working and smile admiringly at his sheer awesomeness. I could complain about the messy transformation and the ho-hum alt mode, but alas, I’ve come to expect very little out of my Megatron alt modes. Honestly, I’d rather just have a great looking robot mode, and that is exactly what we got here. He’s a near perfect looking figure, only marred by his unfortunate Fusion Cannon.

Transformers Prime: Optimus Prime by Hasbro

There were two figures in the TF: Prime line that made me hesitant to start collecting it, we already looked at Bumblebee. The other one was Optimus Prime. The official promo pics that Hasbro and other online sites used to sell it looked terrible. He looked too simple, lacked too much detail, he was too boxy, and too unlike the on screen model. And hey, you can’t have a good Transformers line without a good Optimus Prime figure, right? (SHUT UP, I LIKED ENERGON OPTIMUS PRIME!!!) So, I was really hoping that like Bumblebee, this would be one of those figures that would win me over once I got him in hand. And at risk of killing the suspense… yes he did. I still have more than a few issues with him, but ultimately, I think the good far outweighs the bad with this figure. Let’s take a look…

Optimus comes in the same style box we saw with Starscream. Again, I love the box’s deco and the window shows off the figure nicely. Prime is packaged in his robot mode with his weapons beside him. Once again, you get a “Try Me” hole cut out in the window so you can see just how shitty the weapon is before dropping twenty bucks on the toy. I lie; you really can’t appreciate how shitty it is until you get it in hand, but more on that later. The back of the package shows photos of Prime’s robot and truck modes and these are the pictures that Hasbro should have been releasing early on, because armed with these pictures, I wouldn’t have been so hesitant to buy him. Let’s get him out of the package and start with his vehicle mode.

 

Right off the bat, I’ve got to say Prime’s truck mode looks so much better in person. There’s more sculpted detail on it, particularly the sides, where there are sculpted rivets and some panel lines. The windshield area looked blocky and featureless, whereas the actual toy has plenty of nice detail. I really like the sculpted circuitry like panels behind the clear windshields. Prime actually has full length smoke stacks, although they are a bit bendy. What doesn’t look so hot is the back of the cab, where the recessed legs are exposed.

I was pleasantly surprised by how fresh and clever Prime’s transformation works. You’ve got to hand it to Hasbro. After almost 30 years of designing Optimus Primes that turn into truck cabs, they can still come up with new ways to do it. This version gets a little fidgety where the arms and shoulders are concerned, but I was still able to do it without consulting the instructions, and once I knew what I was doing, getting him back and forth is pretty easy.

In robot mode, Prime looks pretty close to the on screen model. The biggest difference is in the chest area, where the show model’s windshields angle out of his chest and the ones on the toy are just a solid slab. The toy version actually looks more durable and practical, as the TV show model makes me wonder how Prime can get through a normal day without smashing those things to pieces. The body itself is nicely sculpted to look like the on screen model, but the kibble backpack works against it to give the figure a boxier look then it should have. In fairness, the backpack isn’t at all bulky or troublesome, but it does make the figure look more squared off, despite his sleek and sculpted torso. Originally, I didn’t think I’d be a fan of the clear plastic parts used on the forearms, but I’m warming up to them. It’s a shame that the design has the exposed screws on the front of Prime’s shoulders, rather than the back, but now I’m nit-picking. The head sculpt is great, but it feels a little too small, like it was designed for a Deluxe figure, rather than a Voyager.

Prime comes with two weapons: You get his awful Mech Tech blaster and a sword. Both weapons can be fitted to the cab hitch for storage when he’s in truck mode. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the Blaster. Everything I said about Starscream’s Null-Ray Blaster applies here. Whether held in hand or mounted on the cab hitch, it looks like crap. The only problem here is that while I could happily toss Starscream’s weapon and not miss it, an Optimus Prime figure without a decent blaster feels like it is missing something. And yet, I’d rather have no blaster at all then display him with this horrible weapon. At least he comes with a sword, which looks good in his hand, but unless they’re Dinobots, I’m not a big fan of my Transformers wielding swords.

In the end, this figure features a lot of give and take. The robot mode is not the homerun that Starscream’s robot mode is, but then he is a better compromise between robot and vehicle mode. He’s also a nice solid figure that displays well and is surprisingly a lot of fun to play around with. In the end, he really won me over. Sure, the First Edition figure looks a lot more like the TV show’s model, but I find myself perfectly content with this guy representing Prime in this line of Transformers.

Tomorrow, we’ll keep the Voyager ball rolling with a look at Megatron.