Transformers Earthrise: Grapple by Hasbro

It’s been a long run, but I’m finally getting to where I’m almost caught up with my Earthrise reviews, and have just a handful of Siege figures left to look at! And speaking of long runs, can you believe it’s been nine long years since Hasbro last delivered naïve but well-meaning Autobot engineer Grapple to the toy aisles. That Reveal the Shield figure shared a mold with Inferno and was a really solid figure and a rather unique style. Well here we are, nearly a decade later, and we’ve got something that seems a lot closer to the original G1 toy!

What else is there to say about the packaging, other than it’s awesome. Grapple comes boxed in his robot mode and surrounded by some amazing artwork. And this time, Hasbro just slapped Autobot onto his name to get around copyright issues, rather than calling him SOLAR STORM Grap-PEL. What the heck was that all about? Why not just call him Fred? Anywho, let’s get him out of the box and we’ll start with his alt mode.

As always, Grapple is an orange construction crane, and not a bad looking one at that. Sure, anyone with even a cursory knowledge of convertorobots will be able to see most of what’s going on here. He wears his arms on the vehicle’s back and you can even see his head tucked in at the base of the crane, but turned around and pretending that you don’t notice it! Of course, none of these things bother me, as I’d much rather deal with some obviousness than unnecessary panels that complicate the transformation and wind up as unwanted kibble on the robot mode. I mean, come on, I bought this, I know what it is, it ain’t fooling me! There is some nice detail scattered here and there like sparing panel lines, and the non-functioning stabilizers on the sides painted silver.

As for the deco, the bulk of the crane gets by with a lot of orange plastic. You do get some black on the wheels and a little more scattered about the body, and a little silver paint. There are also some black and orange hazard stripes. The cab gets the most flourish with some blue tinted windows, roof lights, and headlamps, and some silver on the bumper and grill. Grapple also wears his Autobot symbol proudly on the front of the cab. All in all, I’d say this is a really nice looking truck. It does feel like it may not have as much in the way of detail or paint applications as some of the other Earthrise figures, but that’s just my impression and I don’t think it hurts the toy at all.

The crane is fully articulated in that it can rotate, raise and lower, and it can extend outward a bit. The hook on the end is also hinged. There’s a clip on the side for one of his robot hand attachments, and to be honest, it kind of just looks like a hydraulic or something, so I’m fine with leaving it on there. Of course, you can take it off if it bothers you.

There are plenty of ports on Grapple’s alt mode available if you want to weaponize him with his rifle. Some attachments look better than others, but I’m not a big fan of any of them. Your mileage may vary, depending on how badly you want your crane truck to be armed with a giant rifle.

You can also attach his claw to the front of the crane, which gives it a bit of an intimidating look. Hey, it’s always cool to have different play options! So, the vehicle mode is solid, let’s see how the robot mode turned out…

Transforming Grapple is refreshingly simple and very similar to his original G1 toy. There are absolutely no surprises here, but I can’t argue with how great the robot mode looks. He’s tall and lean compared to the squat chonk of Solar Storm Grappel. And while he lacks that certain hyper-realistic detail the previous figure had, I like the smooth and clean robot mode that’s presented here. I think it toes the line between updated toy and cartoon homage quite nicely. And I’ll always have a soft spot for Autobots that wear the front of their vehicle mode on their chest. IT just always feels so right!  What’s more, Grappel’s crane collapses down and hugs close to his back to keep it from being too in the way. The wheel placement on the outside of ankles and above the hips is fantastic, and there are some very nice details sculpted on the lower legs. The coloring in robot mode is more or less the same as his vehicle mode, and this figure just proves that you don’t need a whole lot of paint operations to make it look good.

As expected, Grapple’s head is nestled inside the box that houses the crane’s main hinge. This has always reminded me of those ridges you sometimes see on the shoulders of armor to keep a rival from getting  clean sword stroke at the neck. So, Decepticons, if you’re going to try to decapitate Grapple, you better think again! The “helmet” is exactly as I remember it from the cartoon, including the two bumps coming off the top at opposing angles. The head does turn independently of the box it’s mounted in, so Grapple may not have the best peripheral vision. The face sculpt is excellent and I love the silver paint, but Grapple looks a lot more dour than I remember him being. Although, I guess the expression does have a certain, “GOD, YOU”RE SUCH A DICK, OPTIMUS. WELL, FINE, I’LL GO BUILD MY TOWER BY MYSELF… OR MAYBE WITH SOME DECPTICONS… THEN WE’LL SEE HOW YOU LIKE IT!” kind of look to it.

Grapple comes with a couple of replacement attachments for his hands. You just fold in the hand and that exposes a port to plug these into. One is his big claw that we saw attached to the crane earlier. I’m thinking he can shoot this like some kind of grappling hook. Or maybe it just shoots a mega-death-ray. Whichever the case it looks pretty cool.

The other is this nozzle, which I don’t remember him having in the cartoon, but it’s been a while. I was thinking this looks more like a repurposed firehose nozzle from the inevitable Inferno repaint/remold. You can equip them both if you don’t want poor Grapple to have any hands at all.

And finally he comes with a pretty cool looking rifle. This is one of my favorite Autobot weapons in a while, and a pretty impressive piece of hardware for someone who would rather be off building things with the enemy instead of fighting.

I can’t say I was terribly excited to get my hands on Grapple, but now that I’ve been playing with him, I’m surprised at how much I dig him. I never disliked Grapple, but he was never up there on my list of favorites. But this toy is excellent. I’d say it has a very solid alt mode, a fantastic and fun robot mode, and a quick-and-easy transformation connecting the two. And while I don’t mind a little complexity in my change-a-bot engineering, these days I find simplicity to me more appealing, especially when it can deliver a toy this great.

Transformers Earthrise: Quintesson Judge by Hasbro

To quote the great Bob Dylan, “How many roads must a man walk down, before he gets an official figure of a Quinesson Judge from the original Transformers movie?” Well, if we equate those roads as years, the answer is 34 roads. While Hasbro once dabbled with the idea by releasing the horrifically terrible Alpha Quintesson in the Energon line, it really has taken us this long to get a proper Quintesson Judge. I’m not sure if it’s because they were convinced it had to have some kind of transforming gimmick, and up until now couldn’t come up with one, but more on that later. For now, let’s just see if it was worth the wait!

The Judge conforms to the Voyager price point, and he comes in a window box with all the typically awesome artwork that I’ve come to expect from Siege and Earthrise. You can get a good look at the figure inside, but he does require a little bit of assembly as two of the Five Faces of Darkness are detached so he can better fit in the package. I don’t think I can adequately stress how amazing it was to finally hold a toy of this guy. The Quintessons blew my little mind back in the day. They epitomized the new direction that the art and design would take in the movie, and also represented the new direction for the Transformers lore that would go on to characterize the third season of the Sunbow series. They were a prime example of the kind of look we would get into the Universe that the Transformers lived in, and introduced a whole new backstory to the series canon. So yeah, getting this toy is kind of a big deal.

Here he is out of the box and sure enough, he is indeed a proper Quintesson Judge! These things were so damn weird, that it’s hard to believe they were actually incorporated into a Western released cartoon. The Judge is characterized by his egg shaped, eh body? levitating on a stream of energy, with tendrils coming out the bottom, and the fabled Five Faces surrounding the middle of the egg. The body itself features some basic panel lining and features a lever, which can rotate the heads as they were apt to do in the cartoon. The tendrils are bendy, but they pretty much hold just one configuration, although they can be positioned up or down thanks to some jointing where they meet the body. The levitation beam is translucent plastic and can be removed from the bottom. The above image shows my favorite of all the faces, Death, and it is a fantastic sculpt. A lever on the bottom allows the mouths on some of these faces to articulate.

Next up we have The Face of Wisdom. Not nearly as creepy as Death, but still pretty cool. It really shows off the more organic types of faces that the artists were starting to design for the robotic life in the Transformers Universe. Heck, even a number of Transformers were starting to get much more organic looks to them.

For number three we have The Face of Judgement. This one strays a little bit from what I remember the orginal design looking like, but after consulting some pictures, it’s really no that far off. Maybe just a bit more stylized. I love the long face and those tapering sides of his “helmet” The spikes on top are pretty cool too.

The fourth face is The Face of Wrath, and it is a pretty nasty looking piece of work indeed. The yellow teeth and the beady red eyes are great. Once again, I dig the way they did the “helmet” with the sides protruding from an outward angle away from the face. The pointed chin gives the face a severe look. I’d also like to point out here how Hasbro went overboard with the coloring on this figure. Lately, we’re lucky if we get a handful of colors on a Deluxe or Voyager, but here we get greens, reds, oranges, grays, everything is colored the way it should be.

And finally we have The Face of War. I always thought this was the goofiest of the faces, and an unlikely candidate for being War, but it’s still a remarkable sculpt, with the bulbous lips, the circular cheeks, and the angled slits for eyes. We also get the coloring that suggests a mustache, along with a beard. What was it with Transformers and facial hair? I remember first seeing that on Alpha Trion back in the day and even my little mind, full of wondrous imagination, couldn’t comprehend it. Either way, there you have a tour of all the Faces and I think they look great. Indeed everything about this toy registers as a direct hit in my book.

The Judge needs his throne, and Hasbro included a little green chair for him to sit in, or in this case levitate on. It’s a nice reference to the throne that the Judge was sitting on in the movie, but it’s very basic and lacks the pomp and circumstance of the one seen in the movie. Honestly, I think this was included solely for the transformation gimmick.

Oh yeah, he also comes with a little gun that can be pegged into any of the tendrils. The gun also has a regular peg handle so it can be used by any of the other figures. Cool! I’d be perfectly fine with ending the review right here, but of course, Hasbro had to give him a transforming gimmick, because… you know… Transformers! So let’s see what they came up with!

Yup. That’s certainly a thing. Hasbro has made it a habit of dropping in a few figures here and there that transform into playsets for the tiny figures, and that’s the direction they went for here. Conceptually, I’m not all that clear on what they were going for here. It’s basically a tower and a jail cell. The cell is designed for the little guys in this line, but I just had a Titan Master handy, and he works pretty well. Honestly, I don’t know if the person who designed this alt mode deserves a commendation for originality or to be laughed at. On the one hand, I guess it’s impressive that they were able to get any kind of alt mode out of a Quintesson. On the other hand, you can be sure that this will be the first and only time I’ll ever transform the figure.

I have one rule about bad and unnecessary transformers: If they don’t mess with the figure, I don’t care, and that’s most definitely the case here. Sure, I would have been fine if they had just left out the transformation gimmick altogether, but since it doesn’t effect the figure I can just pretend that it doesn’t exist. And this is a really great little figure! Hasbro did a beautiful job bringing this creepy guy to my collection, and yes, I will be hunting down a couple more. Now I can’t wait until the rest of the Quintessons start turning up. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind a Deluxe Class upgrade to the Sharkticons either!

Transformers Siege: Mirage by Hasbro

As you may be aware, I’ve been bouncing my Transformers reviews between the new Earthrise releases and my backlog of Siege figures. Up until now, I’ve felt hopelessly dated going back to the previous line, but seeing as how the new Netflix series premiered, it now seems a lot more topical to be checking these out. I’ve only seen a few episodes of the series so far, but I like it well enough. I’m pretty impressed at how close the animation models stick to the toy designs. I think it tries a little too hard to be edgy and gritty, but overall it’s pretty good stuff. So, let’s check out my favorite Autobot Infiltrator, Mirage! I’m delighted to see Hasbro taking another crack at Mirage. The Classics one was a cool figure, but it was pretty different than the G1 robot design. Combiner Wars gave us another, but that one was just a repaint of the Stunticon, Dragstrip.

And this one looks like it’s going to be a pretty sweet update! The box contains the usual kick-ass character art and showcases the figure in his robot mode. I should note that this Mirage has been re-released in a Decepticon deco, as part of the Netflix sub-line of Siege repaints. That didn’t make any sense to me until seeing the series. It’s a cool way to introduce and justify a repaint, but I’ve opted to skip the Netflix repaints. Let’s start with his race car mode!

It’s a reach, but to appreciate Siege, you have to accept that there are a lot of native Autobot alt-modes that look conveniently similar to Earth cars. And yeah, I’m OK with that. This Cybertron racer reminds me a bit of Prowl’s alt-mode from the Energon series, and that toy hasn’t aged too well. Mirage has a distinctive Formula-1 configuration, but the canopy and surrounding area are cast in translucent blue to give it the feel of a futuristic alien machine. The front is fairly faithful to its Earth cousin, but the back looks all sorts of stubby and weird, especially since the back of the vehicle is the faked out chest for the robot mode, which is supposed to be the front of the car. The end result is something that has a bit of a super-deformed Tonka-toy feel about it.

The color palate consists of white, gray, and blue, in other words, G1 Mirage colors. You also get some silver paint on the top of the wheels and the top of the spoiler. There’s some Cybertonian script printed on the sides of the car and a bold Autobot emblem printed on the front. All in all, I’m not really digging this alt mode very much. The best thing I can say about it is the translucent plastic looks really cool.

Mirage comes with two weapons and they can both plug into the holes in his spoiler. Yeah, it doesn’t do a whole lot to add to the vehicles aesthetic. Let’s move on to the robot mode.

Now we’re talking! Clearly, Hasbro made all the sacrifices in the alt mode to give us a great looking Mirage in robot mode, and given how good it looks, I’m fine with that! The transformation is totally different, and yet everything falls into place more or less. The armor panels on his arms are now made up from the spoiler, rather than the sides of the car. Those wind up down in his lower legs. And I already mentioned that the chest is faked out to look like the front of the car, when it’s actually the back. The clear plastic looks cool down in his legs, and I like how the Cybertron script winds up down their too.

From the back, he isn’t exactly pretty, but there’s still some neat stuff going on here. I dig how the back wheels fold into his back and are totally obscured from view in the front. The front wheels and stabilizers fold behind his lower legs at an angle, which also puts them out of view from the front. I do wish these locked into place better, but it’s a creative way to stow them.

The head sculpt is comprised of pure G1 goodness. He features the familiar rounded “helmet” with the vents on each side of his face. The face itself is painted in a flashy silver and his eyes are neatly painted blue. I also like that they gave him a kind of good natured smile. That’s the old Mirage that I know and love. The cut-out on his chest, a vestige of where his face was hidden in the original toy, has some great texturing and the blue and red paint really pop. I also dig that huge Autobot insignia on his chest. It matches the one on the real front of the car pretty closely.

One of Mirage’s weapons can work as a shoulder-mounted missile launcher, similar to what the original toy had. It looks OK, but I think it projects out a little too much, and that extra peg on the missile is distracting. The launcher can also double as a hand-held weapon too.

And Mirage also comes with a more conventional rifle, which is not only a very cool design, but clearly based on the rifle that came with the original figure. Before wrapping up, since this guy is replacing the Combiner Wars Mirage in my collection, let’s take a quick look at how they stack up.

Some may say it’s unfair to compare their vehicle modes, since this new Mirage is supposed to be a Cybertron racer and the other is an Earth racer, but still.. Combiner Wars Mirage wins by a mile. It’s sleek and sexy, has some nice curves, and the simpler deco is beautiful.

Of course, going to robot mode is a whole different story. Combiner Wars Mirage never really came close to looking like the real deal, and that’s understandable since he’s a repaint of a Stunticon with a Mirage head on it. And with a robot mode this good, I’ll take the Siege Mirage with his boxy alt mode any day.

Unless you’re totally dead set on getting an Earth Formula-1 Racer, I can’t recommend this figure enough. I’ve taken a lot of jabs at the alt mode, but in all fairness it isn’t that bad. And it’s even easier to swallow it when it delivers such a great looking figure. Surprisingly, I wasn’t all that excited about getting this guy in hand, but now that I have him, I find that he’s really scratching an itch that’s been bothering me for a long time. That old Classics Mirage was a cool figure, but it was more of a re-imagining of the character, where is this is exactly what I was looking for!

Transformers Earthrise: Optimus Prime and Trailer by Hasbro

One of the gripes I have with collecting Transformers is the frequency in which Hasbro releases new figures of the same old characters. Sure, it’s nice to get updates, but it frequently renders my existing figures obsolete and I wind up selling them off to make room for the new and improved versions. It’s not a big deal when these figures are five or six or even ten years apart, but when it happens within the space of a year, it can be a little annoying. Case in point, we just got a kick ass Optimus Prime figure in Siege last year and here we are getting a new one in Earthrise. Ah well, at least that one was a Voyager and this one is a Leader Class right? RIGHT???

Well, technically. If you’ve been picking up the Leader Class figures lately, you are no doubt aware that the trend is to use that price point to release Voyager-sized figures with extra parts that incorporate into their alt mode. And that’s the case with Earhtrise Prime here. He’s a Voyager sized figure, but he comes with his trailer and that bumps him up to the higher price assortment. So did we really need another Voyager Class Prime this soon? Especially when the last figure was so damn good? Let’s have a look. I’ll note here that I was tempted to make this primarily a comparison review, but then I decided Earthrise Prime deserves his own time in the spotlight, so I’ll first take a look at him on his own and then come back to the comparisons at the end. Let’s start with the alt mode.

I gotta say, this cab looks GREAT and it’s classic G1-inspired Prime through and through. You get the usual panel seams on the sides, but the cab is so detailed with panel lines that it serves to downplay those seams. From the front we get a big slab of glorious Freightliner, complete with silver paint on the grill and bumper and some translucent blue plastic used over the windshields and the headlamps, and again for the windows on the sides. The smokestacks are short (obviously for safety reasons) but they look fine, the gasoline drums on the sides are painted silver, and you get some weapon ports on each side to mount guns. I dig the sculpted vents on top of the hitch-up and overall the red and blue plastic they used looks superb.

The trailer is a huge draw here and it’s none too shabby. Sure, it’s basically a gray plastic box on wheels, but to me Prime always feels incomplete when all we get is a cab. This trailer pegs into the cab, allowing for a pivot at the junction. At first it felt a tad undersized for the cab, but after messing around with it for just a short while, I found that not to be a big problem. It does, after all, look great hooked up and all decked out with that familiar striping and the Autobot emblem emblazoned into the sides. The tailgate sports some nice sculpted detail and drops open to form a ramp and allow access to the interior. The trailer also has a set of swing down legs so it can rest when Prime transforms, because unfortunately this toy trailer does not magically disappear and reappear like it often did in the Sunbow cartoon.

And yes, there is enough room to roll your average Deluxe Class car into that trailer, even if it is a bit snug. Some of the older Basic and Scout Class cars would make for a better fit. The trailer also transforms, but I’ll come back to that in a bit. Let’s move on to robot mode…

Transforming this figure is satisfying without being too fiddly, and I was genuinely impressed with the way the engineering packs and unpacks many of the panels that make up the cab. When all is said and done, you get an absolutely amazing robot mode. Prime has a poetically trim profile, which keeps all his truck kibble in check. When viewed from the front, I have absolutely no complaints. His stout barrel chest is comprised of the actual windshield piece from the truck, while his abdomen with the grill is a fake-out in order to give it that tapered look. All those great looking panel lines and tiny rivets in the sculpt come across in the robot mode as well. The backside isn’t quite as polished, but it ain’t too shabby either. I love the way the cab wheels are stored on his lower back, even if it isn’t something I’m used to seeing on my G1-style Primes, and the gas tanks look great on the backs of his upper legs. I dig the way the lower legs fill in, but I do wish those panels were blue instead of gray.

Most of the coloring from the cab mode carries forward and that red and blue plastic still looks great here in robot mode, as does the gray plastic. The silver paint is sharp and appears not only on the grill and smokestacks, but also on the lower leg vents, forearms, and some neat trim around his windows and wipers. The deco is rounded out by an Autobot emblem printed on his left shoulder.

The head sculpt is very similar to what we got with Siege Prime. My only gripe here is that the eyes can be tough to see with the naked eye, possibly because the brow ridge is a little too prominent. Fortunately, the heads can be swapped, and in the end I may wind up doing just that.

Prime comes with a new version of his Buster Rifle, which is a little beefier than the Siege version. It’s mostly black but does have some gray pegs, one as a grip and another coming out of the side. Prime’s hands are hinged at the figures, forming a peg-hole when closed so he can hold the rifle in either hand. The rifle can fold up in the middle and the side peg allows it to be stored on Prime’s back when not in use.

The figure’s chest can also open to reveal a removable Matrix. I love the amount of detail they sculpted into the Matrix Chamber and it’s all painted over with that lovely silver paint. The Matrix itself is a solid piece with a gold housing and a translucent blue center.

Transforming the trailer is very similar in design to the old G1-version. It splits in the middle and opens to reveal a few possibilities for play and display, although there isn’t a lot going on in here. There’s a repair drone, but no Roller or consoles or anything else. To be fair, in this mode, the trailer is pretty underwhelming. There is some nice sculpted detail throughout the interior and some peg holes to place weapons or store blast effects, but I would have liked something more. Even the repair drone lacks any paint and there isn’t a lot of detail on him. As a result, the open trailer serves best as a repair bay. It can be opened horizontal to lay a damaged Autobot down and have the drone work on him in robot mode, or they can drive up there and get serviced in their alt mode. The only issue here is that since the struts on the trailer just fold down, they don’t support the sides like the swing-out struts on the original toy did.

You can also stand it up and use it as a repair gantry, and I think this mode works best for the bigger figures, like Prime. It’s not the most exciting execution of the transforming trailer gimmick, but it’s not bad either. OK, let’s wrap up with some comparisons between Earthrise Prime and Siege Prime.

Now in fairness, comparing the two cab modes mostly comes down to preferences in style. Technically Siege is supposed to be Prime’s Cybertronian mode, but come on, it’s really just an Earth truck that looks like it’s been modified a bit for battle. The translucent blue plastic covering Siege Prime’s grill, the four cannon-looking ports on his bumper, and the slab that covers his roof lend him a wee bit of a sci-fi flavor, but it’s still just a tweaked Freightliner FL86 that somehow inexplicably evolved on another planet. I don’t dislike it, but I do like the look of Earthrise Prime’s cab infinitely more. It’s just so so clean looking and pretty. Both cabs are scaled exactly the same, but sadly Siege Prime doesn’t have a socket to allow him to pull Earthrise Prime’s trailer. You can kind of fake it, but it’s not meant to be compatible.

Choosing a favorite in robot mode isn’t quite as clean cut for me. Both are fantastic looking figures, and scrutinizing them together, I find there are things I would pick and choose from each figure to make an Ultimate Prime! When it comes to Siege Prime, I dig the sculpted circuit patterns behind his windshield, and his pelvic piece is more streamlined. I also like the fact that his legs are more blue on the insides, and he has the lights on the roof painted yellow. I guess the slab on his back also makes it look cleaner than his successor. As for Earthrise Prime, well he doesn’t have all that f’ugly and annoying kibble hanging off his arms, and that’s a HUGE improvement for me. I also think his chest looks overall cleaner. From behind, the gas tanks on the backs of his legs look cool and his lower legs fill out better than his predecessors. It’s a really hard choice, but I gotta go with Earthrise Prime for the win here.

If it weren’t for the trailer, I would have easily passed on this Prime, but only because the previous one came out so recently and I really dig its robot mode. With that having been said, I’m glad I didn’t skip him because I think this figure turned out fantastic. It’s almost like a Mini-Masterpiece Prime. The engineering is great, and both his robot and alt modes are absolutely brilliant. I think the only real crime here is that Hasbro sold me a Voyager Class Prime a year ago, which is basically already obsolete. Sure, the alt modes are different, but not different enough for me to care about hanging on to the Siege version. And yet, as much as I do love the trailer, it doesn’t feel like there’s enough there to properly elevate this Voyager Class to a Leader Class price point. Maybe some more paint applications inside the trailer would have helped. I’ll also mention the fact that this figure was extremely difficult for me to find. I had just about given up on getting him, when I just so happened to spot him at Target and snatched him up!

Best Prime Hasbro has put out in ages? Yup! Without a doubt!

Transformers “Earthrise:” Cliffjumper by Hasbro

After taking a few detours back into the Transformers: Siege line, I’m switching back to a figure from the first wave of Earthrise Deluxe Classes. This time we’re checking out Cliffjumper, and man it feels like a while since this guy has had any love in the toy aisles! When I think about Cliffjumper, my mind goes to a smaller figure and, while that’s still the case here, Hasbro has upgraded him to a Deluxe Class. Was it justified? Eh, maybe. Let’s take a look…

We saw the Earthrise packaging last time with Hoist and I’ll just say once again how much I dig it. It’s collector friendly and I wouldn’t blame anyone for wanting to hang onto it for the bitchin’ artwork, but I don’t have the space to save a bunch of boxes, so I’m going to tear into it. He comes in his robot mode, but we’re going to start with his alt mode.

Cliffjumper is sort of faithful to his G1 roots, as he’s still a red sports car, but in this case with a bit of a Trans Am vibe. As such, this alt mode reminds me more of Windcharger than it does Cliffjumper. I was never really sure what Cliffjumper was supposed to be in his original super-deformed Minibot alt mode, but this isn’t it. That’s OK. I don’t mind Hasbro straying a bit with these designs. I do, however, kinda mind when they take a much smaller toy and release it in the Deluxe Class. Yes, Cliffjumper was originally a Mini-bot. And no, this toy isn’t small enough to be what was called a Basic or Scout Class in previous lines, but the size still feels wanting at this price point.

Size notwithstanding, I think this is a fine little alt mode. The red plastic looks great and there are some additional silver and black paint operations for the front and back. The wheels are also painted silver, the rear window is painted black, and the windshield and side windows are cast in translucent blue plastic. I’m not really a fan of different color windows, but whatever. An Autobot insignia stamped on the hood ties the whole thing together. Despite the usual seams, the car holds together pretty well and it feels solid.

As if to make up for the toy’s small size, Cliffjumper comes with a massive bazooka-style weapon similar to one he used when scouting with Hound in the original More Than Meets The Eye Sunbow miniseries. And this is a really clever modular design that can be broken down into several pieces and reconfigured to give him a version of the hydrofoil configuration used by the Autobots in the episode Atlantis, Arise! including turbine pontoons and skis for the front wheels. Cool! If only they used some of that engineering skill for the actual figure. Let’s get him transformed!

Broadly speaking, I think this is a pretty solid look for Cliffjumper, in that you get the car roof landing on his chest and the front of the car splitting to form the feet. One strange choice was to give him those circular, tube like biceps, which were seen on Bumblebee’s Sunbow model, but not Cliffjumper’s. I know, these aren’t really cartoon-based toys, but it makes me wonder if we’re going to see this toy recolored and remolded as Bumblebee in this line. I also find it odd that Cliffjumper has an Autobot insignia on his car mode, but not his robot mode. And to that point, I really wish they had printed it on his roof rather than his hood, because his robot mode looks naked without it. Oh yeah, and after just two or three transformations, the paint on my figure’s right shoulder is starting to chip.

Cliffjumper does sport a rather prominent backpack, which doesn’t bother me because it makes his back look tidy and it’s kind of stylish the way it angles outward behind his head. What does bother me is that this whole piece has to be removed for transformation and then reattached. I don’t mind this sort of thing if it’s on a complex figure or if it’s done for some mind-blowing reason, but when Hasbro does it as a basic step in transforming a small Deluxe Class toy? That rubs me the wrong way. If you don’t care for it, you can just leave it off the robot mode. I suppose you can also give it to him as a shield, but that wouldn’t be my first choice.

And then there’s them feets! The proportions on this guy are pretty good until you get down to his big clodhoppers. I actually really like the engineering for how the hood packs away the wheels to form the feet, but they’re just too big for such a small robot. At least we know he’ll always come in first in those Decepticon ass-kicking contests. None of these gripes are instant deal breakers, but they do start to add up.

At least the portrait is absolute perfection.  I love the rounded “helmet” with the horns and the way it frames his face. The silver paint looks fantastic as does the blue used for his eyes. The heads in Siege and Earthrise have really been on point.

And I do love the Bazooka! It features some brilliant silver paint, two hand grips, and it even has the bipod at the end to stabilize it. Of course, that didn’t help Cliffjumper’s accuracy in the cartoon when he used it to take a shot at Megatron, missed, and got his buddy Hound crippled as a result. Still, I gotta give him props to the writers for having him try to sneak-attack murder his enemy in a Saturday morning cartoon. When he’s not using the bazooka it can be stored on his back.

The weapon can also be broken down into a couple of big and beefy pistols and I dig the way these look a lot! You can also mount one or both on his backpack for a shoulder cannon, although it’s mainly just angled for taking out aerial Decepticons from the ground. Still, not bad!

After a whole lot of bitching, it may surprise you to learn that I don’t hate this figure. Not at all! I think Cliffjumper here would have ranked a lot higher in the context of some of the past lines, but Earthrise and Siege have been so damn good that maybe a figure that’s just decent feels a lot worse. I still think it’s kind of lazy to employ parts-forming in a toy this small and simple, but when all is said and done I really like this spunky little bot quite a bit.

Transformers Siege: Smokescreen and Bluestreak by Hasbro

While I’ve already started dipping into the Earthrise reviews, I’ve still got unfinished business with Siege. As a result, I’ll continue to pepper some of those older releases in with the Earthrise figures now and again until I get fully caught up. Last week I did this with a look at Siege Ratchet and today I’m finishing off the Siege Datsuns (Well, Cybertronian Datsuns) with Smokescreen and Bluestreak.

Unlike Prowl, who was a regular release in Siege, these guys are a bit more confusing. Smokescreen was one of the Selects figures, which meant he came in an plain ugly box and I think he was exclusive to the Hasbro Pulse Shop. Bluestreak was released as part of the 35th Anniversary Collection, which seemed to be mostly repaints. but in only slightly altered packaging. This would piss me off to no end if I kept these in their boxes, but I don’t so I care not! Let’s start out with Bluestreak!

I already did a review on this mold when it was first released as Prowl and later Barricade, so I’ll stick to pointing out the differences, and in auto mode we’re just talking about the new paint jobs. I’m a little mixed on how Bluestreak came out. His deco consists primarily of bare gray plastic with some glossy black. It’s an interesting combination, but I’m just not all that crazy about how the finish on the gray looks so much more dull. Maybe Hasbro realized that, because they did give him some spiffy silver painted wheels. The red Autobot emblem on the hood toss in a splash of color, as does the red trim that can be seen through the transparent canopy. I don’t dislike the coloring here, I just feel like it could have been better with an all around glossy finish.

Smokescreen, on the other hand, well this is what I’m talking about. Sure, he has the advantage of a snappy red, white, and blue deco, but the finish looks great. In addition to the coloring, he also has some panels with Cybertronian writing, where the 38 appears on his traditional auto mode. I also really dig the black skeletal frame on the canopy and the way it emphasizes the sculpted detail inside. There’s no doubt about it, Smokescreen is the more attractive of the two, at least as far as I’m concerned.

Where Prowl just came with a gun to mount on the hood, these guys come with that gun plus two others, which can mount where the side mirrors would go. This combo makes for a particularly dangerous looking attack mode. Moving on to the robot modes!

I liked this mode well enough when it was Prowl and I like it just as much with these guys. With the bumper chest and the door wings, this is Autobot design at in its purist form. And I dig the deco here a lot more in robot mode. The duller gray plastic looks better on a robot than it does a car and the black with the addition of the red in the upper arms, upper legs, and abs makes for a quite striking combination. Yeah, this mold still looks a bit unfinished from the back, but all in all, I think the mold looks great in these colors.

The portrait looks to me to be the same as Prowl’s and that includes the “helmet” and those pronounced wings or horns or whatever you want to call them protruding from the central ridge. The silver paint looks great and the blue eyes are sharp and prominent despite the lack of light-piping. And unlike Prowl, Bluestreak has his twin shoulder guns, which we saw mounted on his auto mode. I think these look great and it bothered me a bit that they omitted them from Prowl. I guess in the end it serves to make the figures a little more distinctive from each other.

Smokescreen gets to keep all that beautiful blue and red paint from his auto mode, but the robot mode also adds a lot of black, which presents a pretty significant break from the colorful alt mode. I’m not saying I don’t like it, only that I find it interesting that Bluestreak got a bolder color statement going to robot and Smokescreen got muted. It still makes for a fantastic deco for the mold. Naturally, I would have liked it if Hasbro could have re-sculpted the hood and gave it that squared off apron, but this will still do just fine.

Smokescreen also gets an all new head sculpt, which suits him beautifully. The blue “helmet” is more rounded out and feels more integrated with his face. His brow wings are yellow and have an interesting cracked pattern sculpted into them. The silver used for his face is bright and lovely and he’s got some additional detail sculpted into the edges where his face meets the “helmet.” And as with Bluestreak, the twin guns we saw in his auto mode form his shoulder cannons.

When I reviewed Ratchet I’m pretty sure I commented about how I’m trying to get away from buying a lot of repaints with my Transformers. I easily passed on Soundblaster and I’ve yet to pick up the cell-shaded Optimus and Megatron (although those are still tempting), and I’m going to sit out all of the Netflix repaints that have popped up at Walmart. But when we’re talking about repaints that made up original characters? Well, those are always going to be fair game. The Datsuns were a cornerstone of my Transformers memories and Prowl was among my first Autobot figures when I was a kid. So yeah, I’m pretty much going to pick these guys up whenever Hasbro does them justice like this.

Transformers Siege: Ratchet by Hasbro

With lots of Siege figures left for me to open, I’m trying to juggle these older reviews alongside the new Earthrise figures. Today I’m going back to one of my favorite characters from the G1 cartoon, Ratchet. It’s always a treat to get updates to Ratchet and Ironhide, because as a kid I was robbed of proper figures because their G1 toys were so damned weird. I was actually pleased with the CHUG versions when they came out, which just goes to show you how thirsty I was. I mean, Woof! Those haven’t aged well. Obviously Ratchet here is just a repaint/slight remold of Ironhide, which I reviewed a little while back, so some of this may feel like I’m covering old ground, but let’s take a look!

In kind of a dick move, Hasbro decided to make Ratchet a Walgreen’s Exclusive. Now, in fairness, he was pretty easy for me to find, so I probably shouldn’t complain, but I’m sure there are people out there who had problems because of the exclusivity. Bottom line, Hasbro… don’t be making important characters like my boy Ratchet an exclusive. Save that shit for Barricade. He was a cool figure, but not essential, IMHO. Anyway, despite being an exclusive, there’s no sticker or other indicator of that fact on the box. Naturally he comes packaged in robot mode, but let’s start out with his alt mode.

In vehicle mode, I expected Ratchet to be a straight-up repaint, but Hasbro actually did some reworking on his front bumper, as well as the area above and behind the tinted blue windshield, which is a welcome surprise. It’s not quite an ambulance light-bar, but it’s painted to resemble one. Maybe the Cybertronian equivalent, eh? The back panels are still kind of ugly and hollow, because they’re the bottoms of Ratchet’s feet, although if I try hard enough I can imagine that they’re supposed to be exhaust vents. Still, I’d rather it looked like he could open up to carry wounded Autobots. As for the rest of the vehicle, the white plastic looks good with the painted red panels, and the wheels are slightly more gray than white, which mixes things up a bit. The silver paint on the bumper head headlights looks good, as does the crisp Autobot insignia just under the windshield. You also get some brushed weathering near the back. It’s not an entirely different vehicle than Ironhide, but the subtle changes and the new paint job certainly sets it apart.

Hasbro also set Ratchet up with some new accessories, which can be used on Ratchet’s auto mode. He’s got a wrench-claw on an articulated arm, and a smaller gun, which can be part of the claw or mounted separately as a weapon. I dig both of these a lot, as it allows Ratchet to effect repairs while in his alt mode and laying down covering fire at the same time. I suppose the claw could also be used to grab hold of Autobots and drag them off the battlefield to safety.

As mostly a repaint, Ratchet transforms exactly the same as Ironhide. There is one nice surprise, however! The side panels don’t fall off like they do with my Ironhide EVERY SINGLE TIME I TRANSFORM HIM!!! Either way, Ratchet has a fantastic looking robot mode that’s well proportioned and just chunky enough to scratch my G1 itch. It’s not a dead-ringer for the original Sunbow character design, but it hits just enough points to make it work for me. Structurally, the only differences between him and his Autobot brother is the slight reconfiguration in the shoulders and the front bumper that rests behind his head. From behind he’s got a lot of hollow compartments, but he still manages to look rugged and sturdy. The deco doesn’t change much from his vehicle mode. It’s still mostly white with some red here and there.

The new head sculpt looks great, particularly with his rounded “helmet” and those big wings over his eyes. I like the features in his face, but I wish the face was painted silver to make it stand out a little more. There’s no light-piping in the blue eyes, but they still stand out remarkably well.

Ratchet’s weapon can be split up to give him a pistol, and you have some options if you want to attach the claw arm to him. I like pegging it into his back. It fills up that empty space a bit and it can be swiveled around to project up over his head or shoulder. What practical purpose it could serve? I have no idea. Maybe as an extra hand when he’s doing his repair work? Of course, you also have the option of just setting it aside when he’s in robot mode.

Ironhide was a great figure, so it should come as no surprise that Ratchet toes the line and also turned out fantastic. With display and storage space being what it is these days, I’m not that keen on buying a lot of repaints anymore, but with some of these old G1 guys, I have to make an exception. And with that having been said, we’re not done with this mold yet. It also got repainted into Crosshairs, and I wound up buying him too, so we will revisit the Ironhide/Ratchet mold again in the not too distant future.

Transformers “Earthrise:” Wheeljack by Hasbro

Work is still very crazy for me, but last week I actually hit my goal of three reviews, let’s see if I can make lightning strike twice this week, eh? Despite still having a whole bunch of unopened Siege figures, today I’m revisiting the Earthrise series with another Deluxe Class figure from that initial wave. It’s my personal favorite absent-minded Autobot scientist, and the Dinobot-Daddy himself… Wheeljack!

The box art is looking as smashing as ever! As the name suggests, the second chapter in the War For Cybertron series gets us a bunch of G1-inspired characters in their more familiar Earth modes. It feels like it’s been almost ten years since Wheeljack got a release in Hasbro’s main Transformers line, and I think he’s long overdue. As usual, the figure comes packaged in his robot mode, we’re going to start with a look at his auto mode.

Originally, Wheeljack transformed into a Lancia Stratos, and Hasbro stuck to that design pretty damn closely for this figure. It’s just as sexy as ever, with the sloping hood, futuristic horseshoe canopy, shuttered back window, and wide spoiler that sits up nice and high. This is an auto design that holds up beautifully and wouldn’t have needed a lot of tweaks to make it look like a Cybertron vehicle, had Hasbro included him in Siege. I also really dig the way they put two sockets in the back, so you can plug in some blast effect parts to look like rocket thrust. There is absolutely nothing I dislike about this mold. It locks together well, rolls smoothly, and it’s just an absolute home run.

The coloring is really great too. The base plastic is a little off-white, maybe eggshell? Either way, it’s adorned with a similar style of red and green deco that the original toy featured and the wheels are also painted red. In addition to the Autobot insignia on the roof, Wheeljack is positively littered with markings from the bold 638 stamped on his doors to the Aerobolt on his spoiler, and all sorts of other stamps and sponsor advertisements. Some of it is even in Cybertronian. The deco perfectly captures the feel of the vintage toy without being a straight copy.

There’s a peg hole on the roof so you can weaponize Wheeljack’s auto mode with his gun/missile launcher. Unlike some of the weaponized vehicle looks, I think this one works well. The weapon is small enough that it looks like it could have appeared from an opening hatch, rather than look like something that was just stuck onto it.

Transforming Wheeljack isn’t too difficult, it’s not too simple, indeed it feels just right for a Deluxe Class toy. But the engineering also holds my one gripe about this figure. The lower portion of the windshield splits into two little plates. When transforming him into robot mode, these fold into his legs just behind and under the knees. The problem is these pop off every time I transform him, and by that I mean EVERY TIME I TRANSFORM HIM! Half the time, they go flying onto the floor and it’s a mad rush to recover them before the cats do. I feel like this could have been handled better, especially since the rest of the engineering is perfectly fine. And it’s hard to argue with how great the results are.  From the canopy chest to the big split-hood feet, the robot mode preserves everything I remember and love about the original G1 design. It even manages to do some clever stuff like use the spoiler to make those angled panels behind his shoulders, where they were separate pieces on the old toy. Hell, this guy even looks great from the back, and that’s not something I can say about a lot of Transformers these days.

The head sculpt is as quirky and distinctive as ever. He’s got those big ear panels, which I can practically see lighting up as he talks. He’s got the three-pronged crown coming off the top of his domed “helmet.” And his nose disappears into the segmented mouth plate. The blue eyes are painted on, so no light-piping, but they look fine.

Wheeljack’s weapon can serve as either a handgun or a shoulder cannon. It kind of looks like the one that came with the original toy, although that toy came with two of them, one for each shoulder. I don’t recall the original figure coming with a handgun either, but that always made sense to me because he was a scientist. Sure, I would have loved to get a second weapon so I could mount one on each shoulder, but he looks fine with just one.

I was, and still am, a big fan of the Generations Wheeljack figure from around 2011. Of course, it was more stylized than this release and took a lot more liberties with the auto mode. And while that figure will always have a special place in my heart, I think this Earthrise Wheeljack trounces all over it. This version is certainly more faithful to the original toy, a lot less fiddly to transform, and has superb robot and auto modes. He definitely carries on all the love that I lavished on Hoist and I’m hoping that Earthrise continues to impress as I keep opening these toys.

Transformers “Earthrise:” Hoist by Hasbro

I still have a bunch of Transformers from Siege left to review, and I do hope to get to those eventually, but a few weeks back I got in the first wave of Earthrise Deluxe Class figures, and I thought it would be fun to be topical and current for a change. Plus, I was really excited to open one of these and that motivated me to squeeze in a second review this week. I can’t even begin to tell you what a triumph of time management this is! Anyway, this assortment consists of Wheeljack, Hoist, Cliffjumper, and Ironworks. I’m going to go for Hoist first!

I’m delighted to see that Hasbro hasn’t changed the package design from Siege to Earthrise. The artwork is still as gritty and wonderful as ever and the figure is packaged in his robot mode. Earthrise is the second chapter in this War For Cybertron Trilogy and as the name suggests, Hasbro has moved on to giving the robots proper Earth vehicle modes. It’s an interesting way of doing things, although with the scattershot character selection it means we’ll have some characters, like Hoist here, with only an Earth mode and no Cybertron mode, while presumably we’ll have someone like Ironhide with only a Cybertron mode. On the other hand, characters like Starscream and Optimus Prime are getting both, so who knows. Let’s start with Hoist’s alt mode…

And you can’t get much more faithful to the G1 alt mode than this! Hoist is a rugged looking tow-truck with a satisfyingly boxy 80’s aesthetic. That includes sharp angles (actually even sharper than the original toy!), flared wheel wells, and big chunky tires. I love it! The body is hunter green with black and yellow hazard stripes running down the sides, and he’s got a bold Autobot insignia crisply printed in the center of his hood. The front grill is painted silver and features translucent blue headlamps and fog lights. Some sculpted detail here includes three sections of grill and what I presume is supposed to be a coiled winch. The towing rig in Hoist’s bed, and some of the undercarriage, is cast in bright orange plastic, completing that familiar G1 deco perfectly. The windshield matches the plastic used for the headlights and the side windows are opaque black plastic. Finally, Hasbro is continuing to experiment with weathering, and that’s evident here by the silver spray around the edges of Hoist’s hood. I think it looks fine.

I’ve got to say that I’m smitten with this alt mode. It’s a fantastic update to the original toy, it feels like quality, and everything looks so incredibly clean and sharp. But that’s not to say it’s perfect. The body rides high on the wheels and you can see a little too much of the robot mode in the exposed undercarriage. The way the arms are just angled down there kind of reminds me of Siege Hound, only they’re even more prominent here. I also would have rather the light box on top of the cabin be painted silver to match the grill and the wheels. I’m also not a big fan of having the windshield translucent and the side windows painted a different color. But these are all gripes that I can set aside, because all in all it really is a great little truck.

And yes, the towing plate is articulated and can fold down to allow Hoist to tow one of his fallen comrades out of a hot spot!

Transforming this guy took me a couple times before it felt natural. It’s a little less intuitive than I expected, but it gets the job done. Like his alt mode, Hoist’s robot mode is also slavishly faithful to his old G1 design. There isn’t a lot of effort spent in smoothing out the design, although the proportions are improved and this modern version actually has a visible pelvis, rather than a pair of legs coming out of the hood. Utilizing the car bumper as a chest (like Prowl and the Datsuns) will always be my favorite Autobot design, but this one works well too, with the windshield taking on role of the chest and the hood pointing down to become the abdomen. This is undoubtedly a solid looking bot mode! The coloring remains faithful to the alt mode deco and I think the positioning of the weathering spray makes more sense in this mode. Although, I’m surprised they didn’t add some to his feet as well. If I were to nitpick the coloring here, I would just say that I wish the white parts were painted silver.

When viewed from behind, Hoist ain’t exactly pretty, but he’s not too bad either. His tow gear becomes a backpack with the two “wings” angling upward off his shoulders. He’s got a little hollow leg thing going on in his lower legs, but that’s nothing unexpected from a Deluxe these days. And then there’s those arm panels. Yes, they are totally faithful to the design of the original toy and that’s a good thing for keeping up tradition, but it’s also a bad thing for the overall workings of the toy. With the more modernized aesthetic and articulation, they feel rather out of place. And I can’t help but think that a few strategically placed hinges would have served to pack them up nicely and out of the way. Although, in fairness, I hadn’t remembered that they were included in the animated Sunbow design. Ultimately, I can go either way on them. At first I did not like them at all. But after playing around with the figure a bit, I’m finding that I don’t mind them nearly as much as I thought I would.

The head sculpt embraces the old Sunbow animated design a lot more than it does the original toy, and I’m happy with that. The “helmet” is painted black and his mouth-plate is gray. There’s no light-piping in effect here, instead the visor is simply painted blue. But it looks good and the color pops surprisingly well.

Hoist comes with a chunky orange funnel-like gun, which can be held in either hand. When it is held, however, it looks more like a natural extension of the arm, which is something that Hoist had going on in the old cartoon. Even the toy had the option to replace the hands with a missile-like weapon. I’m not sure why they went with orange, but I don’t hate it. It works well with the existing deco and I like that it preserves the option for him to have two hands if you want. You can also peg the gun into either side of his vehicle mode to give him a little more firepower.

I’ll confess that I was a little iffy on Hoist when I first got him out of the box and started playing with him. There were a few design elements that I thought could have been done better. But after just a couple transformations and a little bit of fiddling, he has more than won me over. He’s even going to stay on my desk for at least a few days because I can’t stop playing around with him. More than any other recent Transformers release, Hoist here feels like a straight up update to the original toy, and that’s not a bad thing at all. I don’t think he reaches the heights of Deluxe Perfection that we saw in a line like Titans Return, but he’s still damn good and I’m eagerly awaiting the remold into Trailbreaker!

Transformers Siege: Shockwave by Hasbro

One of the many lessons I took away from Toy Fair is, OMG there are so many cool new Transformers coming and I’m woefully behind in reviewing the ones that I have. So, with Earthrise figures already hitting the shelves, and some sitting in my online Pile of Loot, I thought I’d dig in and open some of the Siege figures I’m sitting on. And it’s not like I haven’t given up on trying to be current with my content years ago, riiiiight? Oh, look… it’s Shockwave. Let’s check him out.

After what seemed like an eternity of boring packages inspired by the Bay movies, Siege upped the ante with some amazing artwork. I love the gritty and realistic renderings of these bots, and the art design matches the look they were going for with the figures. I’m crowing a lot about the artwork because, to be honest, this package isn’t showing Shockwave at his best, and I was almost tempted to leave him on the shelf when I first found him. Anyway, he’s a Leader Class, but that can be a little deceptive since a lot of his parts are optional for his robot mode, and in my case, I prefer to leave them out. But I guess I’m getting ahead of myself… let’s start with his alt mode.

I don’t really understand Hasbro’s unwillingness to do a proper alien laser gun alt mode for Shockwave. I mean, they sell Nerf guns and some of those resemble real guns a lot more than Shockwave ever did. And yes, there’s a workaround to reach a fan-mode that resembles a gun, but it’s not something I’m going to touch on here. In any case, what do you do with a Transformer who’s alt mode used to be a camera, or a tape deck, or a laser gun? You turn them into a spaceship. And so, Siege presents Shockwave as Decepticon Space Cruiser, and as sarcastic as I’ve just been on the subject, I’m actually pretty keen on this design. I’d like to imagine that there’s a lot of mass shifting involved here, because the design looks like it should be massive. Hell, this would be a great stand in for the Decepticon Flagship, Nemesis as far as I’m concerned. Although that would have to be a hell of a lot of mass shifting!

As with many of Siege’s figures, the sculpting is complex and very busy. The hull surface is littered with panel lines and there is hardly a millimeter of this craft that isn’t packed with some kind of detail. It’s also blistering with guns. There are two small turrets on top and three banks of cannons slung below each of the engine pylons near the back. I dig how powerful the engines look, again suggesting that this thing is supposed to be BIG and all the wings and fins coming off the back adds to its stylish complexity. And then there’s the giant emitter on the front, which I suppose could be some kind of Deflector Dish, like on the ships in Star Trek, or it could just be a super weapon. In the end, I guess it’s whatever I want it to be.

There are a lot of clever fake-outs on the ship design as well, making it seem like certain parts are components of Shockwave’s robot mode, when in fact these parts are removed for transformation. The engine pylons, for example, look a lot like Shockwave’s lower legs and the conning tower looks like it’s meant to be Shockwave’s head. Meanwhile, both of the side cannons resemble Shockwave’s gun arm. As I mentioned above, there’s a fair amount of parts-forming here and I realize a lot of fans don’t dig that, but when considering the toy as a whole, I’m OK with it. So let’s transform Shockwave and start with his most basic robot mode.

Stripped of his bulk, Shockwave transforms into a roughly Voyager Class figure, which happily puts him in perfect scale with Siege Soundwave and Megatron. Oh, and he also happens to be absolutely spectacular! The character has had a select number of figures in recent years from the forgettable Combiner Wars release to the weird Walgreens Exclusive that I still have to review one of these days, but this one scratches all of my itches. And yet all it does is take the original character design and do it right. The familiar translucent plastic bar is present on his chest, he still has the backpack where the electronics were stored in the original figure, and you get the necessary cable running from his right gun arm to the backpack. And all of that wonderful panel lining from the Space Cruiser mode carries over to make for a hyper-detailed robot. The deep purple deco from the alt mode also dominates the robot mode with some additional gray and silver. I just love this bot in every way imaginable. Except maybe in the literal sense of having intercourse with it.

And let’s just take a moment to appreciate the head sculpt with that single piercing yellow eye that sports some outrageously fine light piping. Seriously, just about anywhere I rest this figure, that light seems to be illuminated  They packed some amazing sculpting into the area surrounding that eye, and he has his traditional flat ear-antenna. Simply wonderful! Now… about all those extra parts…

Throwing back on all of those parts, we get Shockwave in his powered up mode and for me this is a big fat NOPE. The bulk of the parts go onto his upper body with a bigger backpack, bigger shoulders and a really weird extra set of arms that end in guns. It looks like some kind of Transformers body horror to me, like he went through the Space Bridge with another Transformer and this is what got merged together and came out the other end. Also, he acquires a pair of gun shoes. GUN SHOES!!! No sir, Hasbro. Only Predaking can pull off gun shoes. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll bet this mode is all kinds of fun for the kids and that’s great, but I won’t be displaying him like this. What else ya got, Hasbro?

Well, how about this jet sled kind of thing? This is also not really doing much for me. He looks silly on it and it doesn’t hold together well at all. I guess as a separate attack drone, maybe? But all in all, I’m happy just putting these parts aside when I display Shockwave in robot mode.

I’m glad to be going back and hitting some reviews of the older Transformers from Siege before getting into Earthrise, because clearly there are some great figures here and I don’t want to miss out on gushing about them. Shockwave here will likely raise issues with some. He’s undoubtedly got elements of being a parts-former, but with both an alt-mode and robot mode that are as great as these, I’m perfectly OK with it. And to their credit, Hasbro tried to use those extra bits to good effect, but I’m still happy to put them in a pile behind him on the shelf so they’re on hand when I want to transform him, but otherwise out of sight and out of mind. And damn the Siege versions of the Holy Decepticon Trinity of Megatron, Soundwave and Shockwave sure look amazing together. Hopefully I’ll get some time to dig into Siege again next week to make up for lost time.