Transformers Kingdom: Galvatron by Hasbro

The 86 Transformers movie sure was a lot for a kid to unpack. Sure, I had to watch my hero Optimus Prime die, but at least he eventually came back. Megatron getting reformatted into Galvatron? Well, that shit stuck. And while Galvatron was indeed the new sexy, I really missed seeing Ol’ Megsy in the post-movie cartoon episodes. Nonetheless, as a big fan of his design, I am always down for a new Galvatron toy, especially since most of them have been pretty wanting up to this point. Fast forward to Present Day… 2021, the year where Hasbro pulls a mulligan and offers re-dos on a lot of the heavy hitters of the Titans Return and Power of the Primes lines. It’s hard to believe that was five years ago already!

Once again, I’m confused by Hasbro’s decision to spread the 86 Movie Transformers out over two different lines. Some are Kingdom figures, others are Studio Series figures. Why? Who knows? I toss the packaging, so I can call them whatever I want. The only downside is that Galvatron doesn’t come with one of those cool cardboard backdrop stands included with the Studio Series releases. Obviously, the big question here is: Is it worth replacing my Titans Return Galvatron with this new one? Well, I’ll get to a lot of comparison stuff in this review and it’s not as simple as… oh hell… Yes. The answer is Yes. Let’s start with his alt mode.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Galvatron’s alt mode. It’s a big space cannon, and while it certainly has more play appeal with other Transformers than Megatron’s 1:1 scale gun mode, it just seemed oddly abstract compared to all the other toys of the time. That having been said, this is a pretty good take on the animated version. The giant space gun sits on two stubby legs with tank treads for feet so it can roll around and gain new firing positions, something I don’t recall ever being shown on the cartoon. In fact, he would usually transform and fire off a few rounds, begging the question, why bother transforming when the cannon is right on your arm there, buddy? Oh yeah, Galvatron was crazy. Fair enough.

Unlike the Titans Return version, this mode locks together beautifully and remains a solid and stable toy. It balances pretty well too, and you can angle the gun upward to fire into the air. It’s worth noting that the two side guns that flank the main cannon are removed during transformation and as we’ll see, they can be attached to Galvatron’s robot mode, but it isn’t necessary. I do, however, really dig the way they look on the alt mode. All in all, this space cannon gets the job done. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it, and I can’t deny that it’s an improvement. And with that, let’s have a few comparison shots.

It’s worth remembering that Titans Return Galvatron was a Triple-Changer, so it’s kind of expected to have the weaker alt modes. Mostly, it just has the nose and cockpit of a jet fighter under its belly. I do find the Kingdom version to be all in all better proportioned and beefier, but in the end they’re still both ugly space cannons. Admittedly, the cylindrical body is more accurate on the newer release. The real tipping factor is how solid Kingdom toy is in this mode. I could never get Titans Return Galvatron to lock together properly in this mode, which made it a pretty frustrating toy. So yup, this is a solid update. Let’s move on to the robot mode!

Not bad at all! Some of the early leaked photos of Galvy made him look questionable, but in hand I have to say he looks really good. I do think he’s a little stockier than he’s portrayed in the film and cartoon, but I’m not hating it. It makes him look burly and powerful. I dig his big angled chest and his familiar pylons that jut upward from his shoulders. His lower legs could have used a bit more styling, but they’re still fine. The coloring feels spot on with a combination of vivid purple, black, and gray plastics. He’s got the four red square panels embedded in his belly, and I even like the hip plates, which are fully articulated so as not to mess with his leg articulation. Hasbro brought back some weathering, but it isn’t as overt and unsightly as it could be in the Siege figures. I actually quite like it here.

From behind, Galvatron isn’t exactly pretty, but at least there are no big, gaping hollow compartments. Everything fills in quite well. I think the most unsightly thing about him here is the treads that wind up behind his upper arms. Sure, kibble’s gotta kibble! They had to go somewhere, but it’s very contrary to the clean animated look. One thing I do like is that the treads will peg into the holes on the backs of the shoulders, locking them into place. This does negate the bicep swivel, but if you want to use that you can just unpeg the tread. Still, it does help to keep these under control when posing the figure.

The cannon side pieces that I mentioned before are designed to attach to his back, and while they look OK from behind, I don’t like having them visible from the front, so I’m choosing to leave these off his robot mode. You can combine them and make a gun for Galvatron, but it’s not very in character for him, and it’s not like he needs to carry a gun when he has a giant cannon mounted on his arm.

Speaking of arm cannons, this one looks great! There are actually two sockets on his arm to attach it to, so if you want it on his upper arm or his lower arm, you can go either way. I prefer to have it mounted higher. And unlike the Titans Return version, the bicep swivel here allows him to position it to the side when prone and on top of the arm when firing, provided you remember to unpeg that tank tread!

And it’s hard to not make a big deal of the fact that Kingdom Galvatron’s head is an actual head, and not just a tiny head with a weird flip up frame-helmet on it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the way Titans Return played off the Headmaster gimmick with the Deluxe figures, but the way they integrated it into the larger figures was weird, and nowhere was that more apparent than with Galvatron. Here we get nothing but a beautiful classic looking noggin. The silver paint looks great, the narrow eyes are immaculately painted with a bright shade of red, and he’s got an appropriately displeased look on his face. So much better than what we got last time!

Galvatron comes with one more accessory, and that’s this Matrix on a chain that he can wear around his neck. I have no intention of ever displaying this on the figure, but I was happy to see that the Matrix comes off of the chain and it is a beautiful little piece. I think it’s the same one that comes with Studio Series Hot Rod, but I’ll have to confirm that when I get around to reviewing that figure. Either way, the sculpt and paint on this little Matrix are both excellent.

And here’s a quick comparison shot of the two Galvatrons. It’s easy to see why this figure drove me to drink when I reviewed it five years ago. As I recollect, there were some things I liked about it, but it’s hard to see what with these two standing together. Granted, that figure was possibly crippled by a Triple-Changing gimmick and a poor implementation of the Head Master, but there’s still plenty else wrong with it. I imagine that a lot of these are going to be hitting Ebay right about now. Mine will just get pitched into a tote and forgotten about.

In the end, I’m very pleased with how this figure came out. He’s not perfect, and he may not even be quite the slam dunk that some of the other newly released 86 Movie figures are, but he’s close enough for me. I was happy to see them dump the Triple-Changing aspect and just deliver a great figure with one solid alt mode. Sure, it’s very possible we’ll be looking at an even better Galvatron in 2026, but for now, I’m quite content to stand this beauty on my shelf beside Cyclonus and Scourge. They look amazing together!

Transformers (Studio Series 86) Kup by Hasbro

With so many great toys hitting the shelves these days, it’s really hard for me to decide on what to squeeze into my paltry three reviews (or less) a week. I really wish I had the time and energy to go back to the early days of FFZ and churn out five reviews a week, but honestly I don’t even know how I ever managed that. For now, I’m especially thrilled with Hasbro’s original Transformers movie nostalgia trip, so let’s dig into another one of the Studio Series figures with everyone’s favorite crotchety old Autobot, Kup!

I’ve ignored the Studio Series releases for so long, because they were all based on the Bayformers, but now they’re featuring the old G1 bots and I couldn’t be happier. What makes a Studio Series figure? Hell if I know. There is a little extra effort put into the packaging in the form of a cardboard stand and backdrop, but otherwise, I guess it’s just a sub-series that allows Hasbro to mine characters that don’t fit into the whole Siege-Earthrise-Kingdom narrative. Whatever that is. In the end, I don’t care what they call them, as long as they keep them coming! We’ve had three versions of Kup in modern Transformers lines, including one as part of Generations and the more recent release in Titans Return. Let’s see how the latest one fares, and we’ll start with the alt mode!

In the movie, Kup was a Cybertronian truck and this is a damn fine translation of that design to plastic form. I was never sure whether this was supposed to be a pickup-style truck with a bed for payload, or if it was supposed to hook up to a trailer of some sort, but either way I really dig what we got here. The sculpt features a decent amount of panel lines, and I especially like the canopy that doesn’t show off the interior of the cab, because it’s a Cybertronian vehicle. The design has the front wheels exposed, and the back wheels concealed underneath. Also, both of Kup’s accessories can attach to his vehicle mode giving him some extra firepower, and what looks like it could be a gas tank.

Kup’s truck mode gets by without a whole lot in the way of paint applications and instead making use of gray-blue and off-white plastic for a color scheme that closely matches what he had in the movie. You do, however, get Autobot insignia stamped on the hood and again on the sides. All in all, this is a cool and compact, rugged little space truck. It holds together fairly well, although sometimes I have problems keeping some of the seams closed up all the way. Let’s get him transformed and check out his robot mode!

Transforming Kup is slightly more complex than I had anticipated. The first time it felt a little fiddly, but after a few times, it really isn’t that bad, and it does a few pretty clever things. The result is a great looking robot that certainly captures a lot more of the animated design than the original toy ever did. The 86 animated designs introduced a lot of curves, particularly found int he rounded arms and legs, and that’s exactly what’s on display here. The coloring carries over from the alt mode, with just a little bit of rusty orange paint accents in the forearms and his “belt buckle.” Ironically, the front wheels which were on display in his alt mode are now hidden inside his torso, while the concealed back wheels are now seen in his lower legs. When viewed from the back, he does have some ugly empty compartments in his forearms and lower torso, but all in all, nothing too bad.

I might as well mention now that he’s built to be pulled apart, probably to recreate the underwater squid attack from the movie, where he got an arm and leg ripped off and Hot Rod had to put him back together. This is a cool gimmick, I guess, but his arms tend to pull out when I’m posing him. I fear that the connections may get even more loose over time.

The head sculpt is pretty good, but I’m not sure it’s the slam dunk that we’ve been getting on the other figures. I think the facial sculpt is just a little soft and they kind of flubbed the crest on his “helmet.” But man, I’m really nit-picking, because it sure ain’t bad. It’s just that so many of the other head sculpts have been pitch perfect, I think there’s a little room for criticism here.

As we’ve already seen, Kup comes with a pair of accessories, which include his gun and his energon goodie dispenser. The gun is pretty non-descript but the goodie dispenser was a cool surprise. I honestly wasn’t expecting that!

And before wrapping up, here’s a quick comparison of the recent Titans Return Sergeant Kup & Flintlock with this new Studio Series model. And I’m happy to say that I can comfortably find room for both of these figures in my collection. The Titans Return version is certainly more beholding to the original toy, especially in the deco, while the Studio Series goes for an animated accurate version. And it’s still cool to me to have a Kup with the Headmaster gimmick. Ultimately, I like SS86 Kup’s robot mode a lot better, but I’m still rather fond of Sergeant Kup’s vehicle mode with the driver compartment for Flintlock.

And that’s Transformers for ya! A few of years ago I was perfectly happy with my Kup figure and now he’s being overshadowed by a new one. This is an excellent figure all around and I’ve been having a blast playing with him at my desk during my down time. The next Studio Series figure I check out will probably be Blurr, and my Hot Rod just shipped out, so I’m excited for him to arrive!

Transformers Kingdom: Inferno by Hasbro

It’s Friday and that means something to me this week, because I actually have this weekend off! And what better way to celebrate than tearing into another Transformers figure! It’s hard to believe it was way back in September of last year that I reviewed Earthrise Grapple, and we all knew that Hasbro would be giving us an Inferno based on the same mold, because that’s just unwritten Transformers law. Well, it took a lot longer than I expected, but here we are!


It’s kind of strange to see these two Bots released over two different lines, with Grapple hitting Earthrise and Inferno as part of Kingdom. Although, I suppose these are all under one branded War For Cybertron umbrella. To be fair, I don’t really get where Hasbro is going with Kingdom, as it’s a slurry of G1 Earth modes and Beast Wars Beast modes. But who cares if the figures are good, and they have most certainly been very good! The character art on Inferno’s packaging is absolutely killer, showing the Autobot extinguishing what look to be the very fires of Hell. I grabbed Hasbro’s official package shot for the image above, and I can’t help but note the change from clear windshield to the black one we got, and which I happen to prefer. Let’s kick off with his alt mode!

Yup, other than having a ladder instead of a crane, Inferno’s vehicle mode is identical to Grapple’s, and that was to be expected. Inferno does have a few added parts, like the coiled hoses on the sides and the wings under the ladder base. But, that’s not to downplay how great this firetruck looks, as the mold serves both types of vehicles very well. The snappy red plastic mixed with black trim looks fantastic, along with some silver paint and the gray add ons. Inferno proves something that I’ve known since I was a little kid: That there’s nothing quite like a firetruck toy.

The ladder features the same movement as Grapple’s crane, allowing it to raise and lower, as well as extend outward. There’s also a nozzle on one side, which can pivot up and down. Finally, there are peg ports, allowing you to weaponize Inferno’s firetruck mode with his rifle, because sometimes you just need to shoot the hell out of a fire to show it who’s boss.

Inferno’s engineering is pretty close to his G1 roots, making this toy both easy and intuitive to transform. And that simplicity is mighty impressive when you consider how great both the vehicle and robot modes look. When I think of some of the tortured plate-shifting and double or triple hinge manipulations it took to turn those Bayformer toys into what looked like vaguely humanoid piles of scissors, a toy like Inferno here is simply poetry in plastic. The robot mode is so beautifully proportioned and what kibble is present looks like it’s there by design. Even his bulky ladder hangs close to his back, making a decent counter-balance without being an eyesore.

In addition to those perfect proportions, Inferno is just loads of fun to play with, thanks all those points of articulation. Hell, he’s wonderfully poseable even if he was a non-transforming figure, and that’s something worthy appreciating. Something else I really appreciate is the way he can store his gun by pegging it into his back.

Inferno’s portrait is absolute perfection. He has a kind and heroic visage about him with some beautiful silver paint on his face and bright blue eyes. Hasbro even broke out the yellow paint for the sole purpose of hitting those vents on his “helmet.” The nozzle that was on the side of the firetruck rests on the side of his head compartment, making for a conveniently placed weapon. Although, I’ll confess, It’s hard to talk to someone who can blast you in the face with water any time he wants.

Either of Inferno’s hands can be retracted in favor of a nozzle attachment, which he was often depicted using in the original Sunbow cartoon. I don’t know what it is I love so much about this concept, but I was a big fan of it whenever Inferno, Ironhide, or Ratchet would retract their hand and replace it with some kind of tool or weapon. It just seemed like a really handy skill. No pun intended.

And finally, Inferno has his big rifle, which is the exact same gun that came with Grapple. I honestly can’t remember whether the original G1 toys shared the same weapon, but I’ll allow it here since it really is a cool rifle design.

In case you can’t tell, I absolutely adore this figure! Inferno is everything I want in a modern G1-style update. He looks great in both modes, he’s easy to transform and borrows most of the original toy’s engineering, and above all he’s so much fun to play with. Like Grapple before him, Inferno is an example of how right now Hasbro is firing on all cylinders and turning out some of the best Transformers toys of all time. Great Primus, it’s such an amazing time to be a Transformers collector!

Transformers Kingdom: Cyclonus by Hasbro

These days, I’m not one to double-up on a single franchise in a week, but it feels like I’ve been rather negligent when it comes to my convertorobots lately. Also, since I reviewed Scourge yesterday, it seemed only fitting to check out another one of the Decepticon’s reformatted top brass. So let’s have a look at Cyclonus!

OK, this is weird. We got Scourge as part of the Studio Series 86 line, but Cyclonus comes from the Kingdom series. I really wish they would keep all the 86 Movie figures in one damn line, especially since we aren’t getting those cool cardboard display bases and backdrops with these Kingdom figures. Also, I’m not following the narrative with Kingdom, but I find it’s weird mix of regular G1 figures, Beast Wars figures, and now 86 Movie figures to be off-putting. I’m skipping the Beast Wars characters, not because I have anything against them, but because I’m compelling myself to be more selective these days because of limited space. As for the packaging? I’m not as keen as the character art here, but it’s not terrible. Let’s start with Cyclonus’ alt mode!

We sure haven’t seen this sleek star cruiser too often. By my reckoning it was eleven years ago with the Universe 2.0 Cyclonus. Holy crap! Eleven years!!! I remember being pretty happy with that figure at the time, but as with a lot of Transformers from that era it did not age well. And while it’s alt mode was definitely a nod to his movie design, it doesn’t come close to this sexy purple spaceship. The design here is a little busier than the smooth simplicity of Scourge’s alt mode, but I think it still fits in with the animated movie aesthetic pretty well. Maybe it’s a touch more angular than the cartoon model, but overall I’m pleased with what they did. The coloring gets by mostly with colored plastic. I dig the purple, blue and silver deco, and the translucent orange cockpit looks great.

Truth be told, I really only have one complaint and that’s the side panels under the cockpit area will not lock in flush with the rest of the body. Indeed, the one on the right side won’t even lock in as well as the one on the left. After fiddling with it for ages and giving up, I’ve found that I’m not alone with this issue and decided to just accept it as it is. Cyclonus does have three retractable landing gear, which is a nice little touch! Also, while it’s really part of the transformation, he has hinged flaps on the backs of his wings.

Cyclonus has a port on the top where you can attach his rifle to give him some extra armament. I’m not usually a fan of sticking guns onto my vehicle modes, but this one actually looks pretty decent.

Transforming Cyclonus is a pleasure, and while there’s nothing terribly mind-blowing in the process, I do think the way his nose cone packs away is pretty clever. I think the best compliment that I can pay this figure is that when viewed from the front, I could easily be convinced that this is one of those non-transforming figures. The robot mode really does look that clean and tight, and wonderfully proportioned. Flip him around and you can see some panels folded and whatnot, but it’s still a pretty damn clean backside. I think the engineers did a fabulous job balancing the robot and alt modes with this guy.

Cyclonus’ coloring remains mostly the same as his alt mode with a whole lot of that snappy purple. Indeed, I’d say the purple came out a bit more pale in some of my pictures, where it’s actually a smidge deeper in hand. His gray bits have an almost pearlescent gold hue to them, which is rather cool and unusual. The articulation is also excellent, making him a solid figure that’s fun to play with.

I have nothing but praise for this fantastic head sculpt. They did a beautiful job capturing that movie aesthetic with his face, which is quite angular, but has a slightly organic bent to the mouth. The red eyes are transparent and feature some very nice light piping thanks to the window in the back of the head. As for his bunny ears? Well, I guess you either love them or hate them. I love them! I do wish his Decepticon insignia had been given the silver outline to make it stand out more against his purple chest.

As we saw with his vehicle mode, Cyclonus comes with a pretty beefy rifle, which he can hold in either hand. I don’t really have a mental image of what his gun looked like in the cartoon. At least it wasn’t something that was ever iconic to me. But judging it just on the design here I like this one a lot.

I don’t know why Hasbro has shunned Cyclonus for so long, because he sure is a formidable looking Decepticon! Maybe that sexy spaceship alt mode was too hard to work with. Either way, they sure did him justice with this figure. He looks great besides Scourge in either mode, and I’m rather excited to get the new Galvatron to put all three of them together.

Transformers (Studio Series 86): Scourge by Hasbro

About five years ago I reviewed Scourge from the Titans Return line, comparing him to the previous Scourge figure from Generations. It’s funny to look back on that one, as I pointed out that while I had nothing but good things to say about Generations Scourge, Titans Return Scourge completely blew him away as an update. And that’s one of the problems with collecting Transformers. Because here I am to say that Studio Series Scourge is so damn good, that he will now be replacing my Titans Return version. Dammit!

Hasbro has been pushing the Studio Series as something of a premium line, and it shows with the packaging. Sure, it’s still a window box with the figure on a plastic tray, but inside the box is a pretty cool tri-fold backdrop and a cardboard pedistal for him to stand on. I’m not sure I’ll be using these for display, but I will at least be saving them while I think about it. Either way, it’s a nice option to have! This is my first dip into this sub-line because previously they have been all about the Bayverse Transformers, and I have no interest in them. But now they’re focusing on the 86 Movie and all bets are off! Scourge comes packaged in his robot mode, but we’re starting with his alt mode.

Scourge’s alt mode is a flying space boat pulled straight from the movie and for the most part it looks great! He’s mostly smooth with organic curves and just the right amount of panel lining to straddle that line between sufficient detail and an animated style. I had no qualms with Titans Return Scourge’s alt-mode, but it was really a different take on this design, while this one is shooting more for accuracy. Things do turn a bit ugly when this space-boat is viewed from behind. Unfortunately, Scourge’s backside looks unfinished and you can see the bottoms of his filthy feet, but I suppose there was only so much they could do with this price point. As for coloring, Scourge gets by mostly with just the two-tone plastic and a big Decepticon emblem stamped on the top. There is a tiny red paint hit on the front point of the middle engine cannon, but he didn’t really need any more coloring in this mode to make him look complete.

If you’re a fan of Scourge being able to pop his head out while still in vehicle mode, this toy has you covered. You just flip down the panel that’s covering his face and there he is! I’ll confess, this isn’t a big selling point for me, but different strokes for different space-boats!

Scourge does have ports on the sides if you want to mount his rifle and further weaponize him while in his alt mode. Again, it doesn’t do much for me, but it’s always nice to have options. Also, you get an effect part that can plug into his cannon or rifle, creating a purple energy blast.

Transforming this guy isn’t exactly a chore, but it isn’t terribly fun either. There’s no grace or clever engineering at work, as a crunched down version of the bot mode is pretty much hiding under the panels that make up the alt-modes hull. But I’m not going to complain about how we get there, when this robot mode is as spectacular as it is! Scourge cuts quite a presence on the shelf with his organic curves, bold chest, and majestic wings. He’s perfectly proportioned and they even included his fingernail polish, which Titans Return Scourge was sadly missing. Like his alt-mode, the robot mode is a little unsightly when viewed from behind. It would have been cool if those two hanging panels could have been locked together to form some kind of backpack, but it’s nothing that comes close to ruining the figure for me.

The wings and panels do make Scourge more than a little back-heavy, but he does have hinged heel spurs, which can be angled to give him a little extra support. And that’s a good thing, because this figure is loads of fun to play with and pose.

The head sculpt is also a huge improvement over little Fracas that served as the head for the Titans Return Scourge. Not that that one was in any way bad, but this one just takes it to the next level. I suppose the larger scale helped, as did not having the head be a tiny robot. It’s funny, but at first I was never a fan of giving Transformers “facial hair” but it’s become so iconic for Scourge that I wouldn’t have it any other way. His mustache and beard have a nice purple coat of paint and his eyes are painted red with a bold black border.

As we’ve already seen, Scourge comes with a rifle, which he can only hold in his right hand. It’s kind of weird to see a relaxed hand on a Transformers figure, but I kind of dig it. It adds some possibilities for poses and gesturing.

And so Studio Series Scourge is a bittersweet addition to my collection. I’m not really ready to start retiring most of my Titans Return figures, but putting them side-by-side it’s incredible to me how much difference five years can make. Sure, this one is a higher price point, bigger size, and isn’t confined to the Headmaster gimmick, but it’s undeniably a huge improvement on all fronts. I’ll likely be keeping most of the Titans Return figures as their own thing, but if Scourge is any indication, it looks like many of them will be getting superior replacements soon.

Transformers (Netflix Series): Bumblebee by Hasbro

For decades, Hasbro has skirted their obligations to Bumblebee’s true heritage by not making his alt mode into a VW Bug again. Sure, some of that came from his change into a Camaro in those shitty movies, but even before that, it seemed like Volkswagen wasn’t interested in licensing to them, or maybe Hasbro wasn’t interested in paying out. Either way, we had to wait for the Takara Masterpiece figure to see Bumblebee once again strut his stuff as a Classic VW Bug. But all that’s behind us, as the last movie made him a VW Bug again, and I guess that’s something good to come out of that mess of a film franchise. Maybe that paved the way back to the figure I’m opening today. Jeez, when did Transformers toys become so complicated? Anywho, I can hardly believe that it was all the way back in June of last year when I reviewed Earthrise Cliffjumper. Damn, it feels like it was only a few weeks ago. I remember doing a lot of nitpicking, but ultimately being pleased with that figure. I also remember imagining how they were going to rework him into Bumblebee. Well, they did. And we’re going to look at it. Today. Let’s go!

Bumblebee is part of the Netflix Series tie-in, which is calling itself the War For Cybertron Trilogy and these figures come in white boxes. Yeah, it’s kind of weird to get Bumblebee in this mongrel off-shot, sub-series, but whatever. Once I throw out the package, this figure will fit right into the Earthrise or Kingdom series. And after a few generous pours of my friend Jameson, I won’t even know (or care about) the difference. Speaking of alcohol… I’ve tried watching the Netflix series, but I couldn’t make it through the first season, despite really wanting to like it. I decided to embark on the second season armed with a bottle of liquid courage, but all it did was make extra sad and depressed. The animated models look great, but the grimdark atmosphere is kind of stifling and I’m not a big fan of how they choose to portray some of the characters. But none of that makes this figure any less welcome and I’ve ranted on long enough. Let’s look at the damn toy! Like Cliffjumper, Bumblebee is packaged in the Deluxe assortment class, but he is much smaller than your average Deluxe. We’ll start with his alt mode!

OH, MY BEAUTIFUL DIESEL-POWERED DEUTCH BEAUTY!!! With no practice in a long while, I was worried Hasbro might not be able to pull off a VW Bug as an alt mode again. I mean, even the G1 original toy wasn’t a proper Beetle, but rather a Super-Deformed version. This Bug looks like it might be a little longer in the hood area than is accurate, but I’m no expert and either way it’s not bad looking at all. Indeed, I absolutely love it! The car mode locks together quite nicely and while there are some unsightly seams where the panels link up, it’s nothing that I’m not used to by now. The chonky curves are gorgeous and it is indeed licensed as there’s a Volkswagen insignia sculpted onto the hood right in front of the windshield. There are lots of great little details in the scul;t, like the vents over the engine compartment in the rear, as well as additional air vents behind the rear side windows. I can even make out the handle on the front of the hood. Great Primus, it’s so awesome to see the little guy’s alt mode return to his roots.

The Bug makes use of a rather deep yellow in terms of plastic and paint. The painted areas match the plastic quite well, and even has a bit of a metallic sheen to it. I love that, because sometimes the yellow plastic Hasbro uses tends to look cheap, but not here! The yellow also looks great next to the blue-tinted transparent windows. Some other paint flourishes include silver paint on the wheels, the headlamps, and even the windshield wipers and door pulls. The tires are black and so are the front and rear bumpers. And finally, you get a little red on the tail lights and an Autobot insignia stamped offset on the hood. What? You want me to complain about something? Fine! I wish they had detailed his license plate instead of just leaving it blank. Happy?

Bumblebee comes with the exact same giant bazooka as Cliffjumper, which means it can be broken down into parts to convert Bumblebee for water travel. This entails using the bipod for skis under the front wheels, using the tubes as pontoons, and the back piece as a stabilizer on the undercarriage. I liked this feature on Cliffjumper a lot, and I still like it here. On the other hand, Bumblebee lacks the port on top that Cliffjumper had to properly weaponize his alt mode, but that’s not a big deal for me. So, the alt mode gets a big thumbs up, let’s see how the robot mode turned out.

Not bad at all! Bumblebee transforms the same as Cliffjumper, which means you do have to take the back part of the car off in order to convert him. If that bothered you with Cliffjumper, it’ll likely do the same here. I’m not a huge fan of it, as I think it’s a cheat, but I’m willing to let it slide here because I really do love the resulting bot mode. Bumblebee sports a rather broad slab of chest, but I don’t think it works against the figure. His feet are still kind of big, but they don’t feel as bad as the giant clodhoppers that we saw on Cliffjumper. I remember calling out those cylindrical parts of the arms on Cliffjumper and saying how they look out of place on him, and that’s because they were always meant for Bumblebee here. Sure, he wears the back half of the car mode on his back, but as far as backpacks go, it’s not that bad at all. Indeed, I think it fills him out nicely.

The head sculpt is certainly on point! It would have been a shame to come all this way and not get the portrait right, but Bumblebee’s noggin turned out great. I would have liked the eye paint to be a little more blue and vibrant, but otherwise, I’ve got nothing but praise. From the horns on his rounded “helmet” to the silver paint on his face, Hasbro captured the character exactly as I always picture him.

I already pointed out that Bumblebee comes with Cliffjumper’s bazooka, and while it’s a damn cool weapon it feels out of place for this little guy. Fortunately, it can be broken down into smaller bite sized chunks. As smaller pistols, I think they work much better for Bumblebee. And if you absolutely don’t like the backpack and still want to use all the parts, it can be removed and turned into a shield, but I’ve never been a fan of that sort of thing.

Maybe it’s the booze making me all emotional, but this tiny scrapper posing as a Deluxe Class figure has made me so damn happy. It feels like such a momentous release, finally returning Bumblebee to his roots and doing it with style. Both the alt and robot modes kick ass, and it’s doubly impressive that Bumblebee and Cliffjumper manage to be so distinctive while still sharing all the same engineering and internal parts. Even in the context of mammoth releases like Scorponok and Omega Supreme, this little fella stands out as one of my favorite Transformers releases of late. And holy shit, that’s saying a lot because Hasbro has been successfully beating the Transformers drum consistently and without fail. And by Primus, it’s a great time to be a Transformers fan!

Transformers (Robot Enhanced Design Series): Megatron by Hasbro

A couple of weeks back I embarked on my first look at Hasbro’s series of non-transforming Transformers with Optimus Prime. Overall, I liked the figure well enough, but ultimately I felt that it didn’t really do anything better than the excellent Earthrise figure that could actually transform. Well, today I’m back to give this series a second look with the mighty Megatron!

Here’s a quick look at the packaging, which I like very much indeed. As a window box, it’s not too far off from the current Transformers Deluxe packages, but the deco is a lot brighter and red, which is an on-the-nose nod to the abbreviation of the series name. Whoever has been doing the artwork for Hasbro has been killing it lately, and that goes double for this series, as you get some lovely character art that wraps from the angled side panel to the front of the box. So, if you missed out last tine, these are roughly six-inch figures with some accessories that claim to emphasize articulation and style over the ability to convert. Well, let’s get Megsy out and see what we’ve got!

Straightaway, I like this figure a lot more than I did Prime. It should be said that Optimus Prime’s robot mode doesn’t lose a lot to his transformation. Hell, the original G1 toy was well-proportioned and looked close enough to his cartoon and comic counterparts. Megatron, on the other hand, isn’t so lucky. His G1 mode was an abomination and while subsequent tank modes have been made to work fairly closely with his G1 robot aesthetic, he stands to benefit a lot from this whole non transforming treatment. And benefit he does indeed! What we’ve got here is as  stylish a G1 Megatron figure as we’re likely to see and we owe that to kicking the need for all that transforming engineering. Megatron is one clean-looking robot, with no unsightly kibble, other than the gun barrel peaking up over his shoulder, which has since become an iconic part of his design even in the cartoons and comics. Everything about this bot is beautifully proportioned, and there are no hollow or unfinished areas to be seen from any angle. The figure mostly makes use of colored plastic for its rather limited eco of white, gray, and black. You do, however, get a little more color in the control box under his chest, some red in his elbow joints, and the Decepticon emblem on his chest.

As with Prime, the plastic here has a very dense and chunky feel to it, which makes for an overall soft sculpt. Given that these are simpler animated style figures, that isn’t a problem when it comes to the detail. On the other hand, this plastic does show a few blemishes, which I’m not used to seeing on official Hasbro product. Either way, the plastic makes for a hefty figure that’s fun to pick up and play with and seems like it would be pretty durable under rough play. Prime’s deco felt a little wanting, missing a few key paint hits, but it’s admittedly more complex than what was required for Megatron’s, which looks fantastic.

If there’s one place that the softer plastic detracts from the figure it’s in the head sculpt. Make no mistake, what we got here isn’t at all bad. The portrait captures the Megatron I know and love from the Sunbow cartoon quite well. You get his iconic “helmet” and his smug, slightly downturned mouth. The red eyes are outlined in black, and those triangular “eyebrows” can be seen peaking out from under that “helmet.” No, my one nitpick here is that I wish the facial details were a little sharper.

The fusion cannon often suffers from transformation engineering, sometimes being too small or too big, or just weirdly shaped. Here, it looks great in terms of size and shape. Alas, some of those weird imperfections in the plastic are evident on the barrel of mine. It mostly looks bad when it catches the studio light and in hand under regular lighting it isn’t nearly as bad. Still, it’s bizarre to see a brand new toy with this kind of blemish.

Moving on to articulation, I have to say that while Megatron here is definitely well articulated and lots of fun to pose and play with, it isn’t that great a leap over what we saw in the Siege figure. Indeed, one vexing thing about this figure is the way the shoulder joints don’t work all that well with the fusion cannon. He can aim it well straight in front of him, but it’s difficult to make him aim it off to the side and have it on top of his arm like he often does in the cartoon. Indeed, the Siege figure can actually strike that aiming pose a little better than this one can.

Megatron comes with a number of extra hands, mostly left ones. You get a fist, a relaxed hand, a pointing finger hand, and even a hand holding an Energon Cube, which is a great little extra.

And finally, Megatron comes with his purple Energon Mace, so you can recreate his battle with Prime on the Hoover Dam. Like Prime’s Energon Axe, this plugs into the wrist, replacing his hand. It’s got a pretty long chain to it and looks great.

Ultimately, I like this figure a lot, even if it is far from perfect. I’ve long been on the look out for a Megatron figure that’s faithful to his stylized G1 look and this one fits the bill. I don’t think this figure offers enough improvements in articulation over the transforming Siege figure, it does deliver a cleaner and more traditional looking version of the character and that fits the bill quite nicely. As a result, I think this one succeeds a bit more than the Prime figure, but in the end I like them both well enough to be happy to have them in my collection. We’ve got one more to look at in this initial assortment, and that’s Soundwave. Hopefully I’ll have a review of him ready in the near future!

Transformers Earthrise: Sunstreaker by Hasbro

Well, I didn’t know it at the time, but this past Marvel Monday was my last review of 2020. It was a pretty shitty and challenging year, but overall still better than my 2019, which is admittedly a pretty sobering and horrifying thought. Needless to say, it’s been tough to keep FFZ afloat these past couple of years, but I’m doing my best. I’ve still got some rough months ahead, but I’m hoping things will start to fall into place as we emerge from Winter. And I guess kicking off 2021 with a new review on Day One is a decent start. I’m not going to be doing any End of Year List or Best & Worst kinda crap. I’m just going to focus on trying to get back to some kind of regular routine. And with that being said, how about we look at a new converto-disguise-change-robot?

I have fond memories of Sunstreaker as a kid. His G1 toy was unique and a lot of fun to play with, and he was actually the only one of the Lambor Brothers that I had as a kid. Needless to say I have been jonesing for a new modern update for a while. And then he was revealed, and I was a bit taken back by how bad the official solicitation pictures of his robot mode looked. Well, it’s not the first time that Hasbro promoted a figure with bad pictures, so I just waited and hoped for the best. So now he’s here and I’ve got my fingers crossed!

See that up there is Hasbro’s official packaged shot and I’m using it for a reason. No, it’s not because I was too lazy to take a packaged shot before I tore into it. Well, maybe, but I’m also making a point. Sure, the Earthrise packaging is looking as fabulous as ever with some absolutely gorgeous artwork of Sunstreaker on the angled side panel. The window shows him off in his robot mode and straight away I’m seeing some really badly matched yellow paint and plastic. The chest/roof is so vibrant and the rest is so dull. Is the actual figure going to look like that? Well, let’s start with the vehicle mode and find out what this sunny boi looks like in hand.

Well OK then! That’s not bad at all. Make no mistake, there is some difference between where the blue transparent plastic that makes up the roof is painted yellow and the rest of the yellow plastic, but it is nowhere near as bad as it looked in the solicitation shots. As for the design, Earthrise has played it pretty close to the Classic G1 alt-modes and Sunstreaker here is no different. His auto mode is a canary yellow Lamborghini Countach and it looks damn good here. The low profile of this design is still as sexy as ever and when you pair it up with that flashy yellow, well it’s no wonder that Sunstreaker has a problem with vanity. I particularly love the tinted blue plastic used for the windshield and side windows, and you also get some silver for the wheels, headlamps, and engine. There’s a bit of black trim and an Autobot insignia on the roof. This is a beautiful alt mode!

I did have some difficulty getting all the seams on this car locked in together, and even then I felt they could have been a little more flush with each other, but with a little patience I was able to get a solid car that rolled pretty well. Because Sunstreaker’s engine doubles as his weapon in robot mode, there isn’t any additional weaponized mode for this car, and that’s fine by me! So far, I’m very pleased. Let’s transform him and see how the rest of him looks!

Transforming Sunstreaker isn’t too finicky and the result is a pretty damn good looking robot. He’s fleshed out pretty well, and not as flat and two-dimensional as the original G1 toy. Indeed, proportionally speaking, Earthrise’s version is very well done. All that beautiful yellow is still on full display here, and once again, the differences in paint and plastic are not nearly as bad with the figure in hand. I do like the additional black showing off here, particularly in the lower legs and forearms. The wheels land comfortably on his ankles and upper arms and instead of adding unsightly kibble, I think they compliment the robot mode nicely. Even from the back, this bot mode fills out nicely, and his engine can plug into his back where it looks pretty natural, and with a little imagination could easily double as a jetpack.

The original toy had two weird “rocket boosters” that would attach to his shoulders, and the sculpting here kind of pays homage to those. I really dig the diagonal vents in his upper arms too. Of course, the roof of the car makes for a great slab of chest with the translucent blue plastic on full display and the Autobot emblem on the roof landing in the middle of his chest. I would have liked it if they could have worked in some missiles to plug into the ends of his arms, as the original toy was able to shoot his fists and replace them with missiles, but I’m still happy with what we got. Sunstreaker sports some useful articulation, and he’s fun to pose and play with.

And that head sculpt is damn handsome, even if Sunstreaker does say so himself. The pronounced ear-vents are painted in yellow, while the face is painted silver, leaving the chin black. There’s no light-piping, but the blue eyes are still quite vibrant.

I’m not a huge fan of the engine-gun here. I would have liked to see a little bit of conversion here, like maybe have the sides fold down and make it look a little more gun like and less like he’s holding his engine. I don’t want to come down on it too hard. I willl, however, point out that the peg fits way too loosely in the hand and it does not stay put in his grasp. I was able to get him to hold it, but when I pose the figure it immediately falls out every time.

A workaround is to attach the engine-gun to the peg in his forearm, where it fits snugly and will not fall out. I’ll admit, I think I like it better as an arm-attachment than a hand-held weapon.

And so, I came into this figure with a lot of trepidation and I’m coming away a happy robot collector. This is an excellent update to that weird and wonderful toy that I loved so much as a kid. It remains true to form as both car and bot, and brings with it all the lovely updates that I look for in these releases. In the end, my only real gripe is that I would have liked to see a proper gun or some wrist-missiles, and that’s just me looking for something to complain about. Sunstreaker also looks pretty good paired up with his Lam-bro, Sideswipe, even if Sideswipe is sporting his Cybertron mode and not his Earth mode. I’ll admit I was weary about getting a lot of do-overs when Hasbro moved the line from Cybertron to Earth, but this is one case where I would not mind getting a proper Earth Sideswipe to display with Sunstreaker.

Transformers (Robot Enhanced Design Series): Optimus Prime by Hasbro

I’m checking in today with a look at the Walmart Exclusive Robot Enhanced Design Series of Transformers. These roughly 6-inch figures have garnered a bit of shade from collectors as being Transformers that don’t actually transform. I understand where the critics are coming from, but personally I happen to like the idea. A lot of these characters mean a lot to me, and as a result have evolved beyond the mere gimmick of their toy line. It also allows for some stylistic and articulation designs that are not always possible in true Transformers. Although, I’ll grant that Hasbro has been getting better and better at that solving those problems lately. The initial (and possibly only?) wave of these figures included Optimus Prime, Megatron, and Soundwave, and while I was a little tempted to start with Megatron, let’s just go ahead and kick off with Prime!

Wow, this is some kick ass packaging! The figures come in window boxes with a slanted side and some gorgeous wraparound character art. You get a good look at the figure inside, and if you look really carefully down at the bottom of the box, it states that the figure does not convert. Maybe, they should have made that a little bit clearer. Anyway, let’s rip this bot open and check him out.

So, RED Prime stands a little more than a head shorter than the recent Earthrise and Siege Primes, but stands at the same height as Hasbro’s 6-inch Star Wars, Marvel, or GI JOE figures. My initial reaction is that he looks really good. He has a stylized appearance that takes a little advantage of the non-transforming design. Most notably, he has no wheels visible, which some people may love. Personally, I don’t mind the wheels on the robot mode, as long as they’re well placed. The figure does take full advantage of being able to make him look just as good from behind as he does from the front. No need for hollow legs or kibble makes for a solid looking figure all 360-degrees around. The plastic used for this figure is very dense and comes across as softer than the regular Transformers. As a result, RED Prime looks a lot less hyper-detailed than Earthrise or Siege Prime. Part of this could be going for that simpler, animated look, but I think some of it has to do with this plastic not holding the details as sharply. I think the whether or not that’s a good thing will come down to personal preference. I will say that the plastic is nice and chunky and makes this a fun figure to handle.

Prime’s deco makes use of colored plastic as much as possible. The upper legs and lower waist are off-white, there’s a dull silver on the abdominal grill, as well as some dark gray. The red and blue are both darker and duller than I would have liked, but it’s not a big issue for me. You do get some yellow paint on the lower waist, but sadly none on the roof lights. It’s hard to tell whether that was an effort to cut costs, or make the truck parts blend in more in robot form. It’s also worth pointing out that the upper pins in the knees are not painted to match the upper legs. I can’t really excuse this, since it doesn’t match on either side and the pin just needed to be cast in the same color as the legs.

The head sculpt is good, but I think it’s here where the plastic quality mars the figure the most. It looks really soft, especially when compared to his transforming brothers. Again, not bad on its own, but really apparent when comparing the figures. And while we’re talking about this region, I might as well mention how unfortunately bendy those smokestacks on his shoulders are.

The chest windows are tinted clear plastic and chow off the Matrix of Leadership, which resides inside. The chest panels do open and you can remove the Matrix. It looks kind of plain inside the cavity, but again that may be intended for the cleaner, animated look. The Matrix itself looks great.

I believe articulation is intended to be the real selling point of this figure, and I’m happy to say that it does deliver in some areas. The arms are pretty standard with rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, hinges in the elbows, and hinged pegs in the wrists. The legs have have rotating hinges in the hips, swivels in the thighs, double-hinges in the knees, and rotating hinges in the ankles that allow for lateral movement in the feet. There’s a swivel in the waist, and the neck is ball jointed. All this articulation means that the figure is tons of fun to play around with, but is it a huge improvement over the transforming Earthrise figure? Not really. In fact, I found that the Earthrise Prime could do most of what this one could do as well.

You do get some nice accessories, including a total of two pairs of hands, and some extra right hands. These include fists, relaxed hands, a gun holding hand, and The Pointing FInger of Leadership. These just pop out of the arms and are pretty easy to swap out.

Next up, you get Prime’s iconic Buster Rifle, which is a bit soft, but still a very nice sculpt. It was a bit of a chore getting it into his hand for the first time, but now that it’s in there, I can leave it in there and just swap out the hand when I want him to wield it.

And finally, he comes with his Energon Axe, which can be swapped out with either hand. I’m not usually a big fan of this piece, but it does look great on the figure, and I may wind up using it to display Prime’s fight on top of Hoover Dam once I open Megatron.

I like this figure a lot, but I can tell right now it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s safe to say that it’s among the best figures of Sunbow Optimus Prime that I have handled. He’s lots of fun to play with, and I think Hasbro did a decent job taking advantage of the non-converting nature of the figure to deliver a clean and stylized figure. On the other hand, the transforming versions of Prime are getting so damn good, that as a figure, I still prefer the Siege Prime over this one. It looks better, it has nearly the same level of articulation, and he does it all without having to give up his transforming ability. Now if this type of figure had been released 10 years ago? Well, that would have been something. I’m still very eager to check out Megatron, as I think he will benefit a lot from this Robot Enhanced Design series.

Transformers Earthrise: Runamuck by Hasbro

Ever since I first laid eyes on The Stunticons in the old Sunbow Transformers cartoon, I have been fascinated with Decepticon cars. I can’t tell you why, maybe it’s just because they went against the grain. Maybe it’s because they were able to take the battle to the roads, and I loved getting my G1 Transformers into demolition derby style skirmishes. And all in all, considering some of the crazy shit I’ve seen on the internet, having a Decepticon car fetish is nothing to be ashamed of.

Enter The Battlechargers, Runabout and Runamuck! These Decpticon twins transformed into black (Runabout) and white (Runamuck) sportscars and looked damn sexy doing it. The original G1 toys actually auto-transformed from car to robot when you pulled them back and let them go. C’mon sing it with me! “Nobody jumps into action faster than Battlechargers!” YEAH!!! This made for fun toys but, as often was the case with the G1 toys, not terribly great action figures. As a result, I’m really excited to see these guys get modern Deluxe Class updates. Runamuck released first, so let’s check him out.

Runamuck’s alt mode is a white sports sedan with some gold trim and smoked translucent windows. It’s got a lot of seams, and sometimes it’s tough to keep them all locked in tight, but I think he still manages to look pretty good. I like the rather sharp angles on this car, and the white plastic Hasbro used isn’t that cheap swirly stuff. It actually looks and feels great in hand. The roof is actually painted over the clear plastic, but it matches fairly well and there’s a bold Decepticon emblem proudly emblazoned on top. Other than that and the gold trim, you don’t get a lot more in the way of paint apps. There are some red taillights, but that’s about it. It would have been nice to see some more painted detail on the front, but I still like what we got.

Runamuck has very low clearance in his undercarriage, so it’s important to get him all buttoned down right if you want him to roll smoothly, but he’s definitely capable of it. There’s a peg hole on the roof so you can plug Runamuck’s gun into it and weaponize his car mode. I’m never a huge fan of doing this, but it’s not so bad here. All in all, I’d say this car does a great job of updating the original toy, while still being fairly true to it. Runamuck has a pretty interesting transformation, and taking him from car to robot goes really quick once you know what you’re doing. Although not as quick as the original spring-loaded figure!

The robot design loosely follows the old toy, with the hood becoming his feet and lower legs, but mostly Hasbro looked to the Sunbow design for inspiration, and that’s a very good thing, although I only remember him appearing in one or two episodes. And I’ve got to say, this Earthrise version is a thing of beauty! He’s got a stocky and rugged appearance for a bot that comes out of a sportscar. The hood on the lower legs, the spoilers on the forearms, and the tail of the car rising up behind his head make him look well armored. And yes, the car roof chest piece is faked out. From an engineering standpoint, I don’t mind this at all, but it would be more impressive if the real car windshield wasn’t peeking out the bottom of his backpack. Yeah, I’m nitpicking… it’s fine!

Runamuck maintains the deco of his alt mode, that is to say he’s still white with a little gold trim and smoked translucent plastic. Some gold around his shoulders to mimic the IDW look would have been cool, but I still dig the uniformity of the white. And once again, this plastic feels great and has a dense, almost chalky look that screams quality. Is he perfect? Not quite. He’s got some serious hollow leg syndrome going on from the back, and the hinges that peg into the lower legs don’t always stay put. But these are minor complaints.

The head sculpt is certainly distinctive with his rather simple “helmet” and his protruding mouth plate. The fact that his entire head is white to match his body makes his narrow blue eyes stand out quite a bit.

We’ve already seen Runamuck weapon plugged into his car mode, but here it is once again. It’s a compact little blaster that he can hold in either hand, mounted on his forearms, or even worn as a shoulder cannon. Runamuck actually has several useful ports if you want to load him up with Weaponizer parts or Targetmasters or whatever you got lying around.

It may seem odd, but I’m not kidding when I say that Runamuck is contender for one of my Transformers of the Year. And that sure is saying something, because we got a ton of fantastic convertorobots from Hasbro this year. My only gripe is that I would have preferred Hasbro released Runamuck in a two-pack with Runabout so that I wouldn’t have to suffer having one without the other. Then again, that would have probably made it an exclusive, and I’ve had enough with chasing exclusives this year. Hopefully the wait for Runabout won’t be too long!