Transformers (Robot Enhanced Design Series): Bumblebee by Hasbro


I’ve been slowly working my way through Hasbro’s line of non-transforming Transformers figures, and overall I’ve been pretty happy with this line. Sure, I’ve had some nitpicks here and there, but so far I think the good has definitely outweighed the bad. Let’s see if we can continue that trend with Bumblebee!

Well, I can’t say as I wasn’t warned in the comments of my last RED review, but when I took this guy out of the shipping box, I was kind of shocked at what I saw. Why is he so freaking big? Why does he look so much more cheaply made than the others? Yup, before I even open this guy up, I’m having my doubts. That can’t be a good thing!

So, out of the box and in hand, I’m finding a little to like here. Like the others, he’s a hefty figure, thanks to the oddly dense plastic Hasbro has been using. He’s even a little more so, because he’s so chunky. Overall, he looks pretty good on his own, although I wish they had stuck a little closer to the Sunbow design. His forearms should be tubes, not rectangular, and I think they could have done a better job stylizing his chest. Still, I’m not hating the aesthetic. There’s a bit more sculpted detail here, than on the other figures, as seen in the panel lines and vents in his legs.

The coloring on the body is nearly all from the black and yellow plastic, although you do get an Autobot emblem on his chest. Hasbro also added in some silver dry brushing to look like weathering. I find it to be a really weird choice, as it’s used so sparingly that it’s like an afterthought, and it’s not present on any of the other RED figures I own.

Speaking of weird, the chest piece is removable and doing so reveals a whole painted and detailed slab. It looks like they had to do this to make a hinge in the torso work, but if you use that hinge to bend him over, the chest just pops off. So why bother? It would have been cool if it was designed to look like his inner workings, for repairs and such, but it’s just a slab. And adding this one point of useless actually hurts the figure, as even if I don’t use it, the chest piece can shift out of position. WHY???

On the flipside, the spare tire on his back is removable, which I guess is pretty neat. He can throw it at Decepticons if his gun runs out of power!

The head sculpt is pretty good, and while I had some issues with the body, the portrait is definitely Sunbow bumblebee. The facial features are a bit soft, but other than that I can’t complain. I like his big blue eyes and his little smirk too.

With the exception of that chest hinge, articulation here is solid, and he is indeed fun to play with. The arms have rotating hinges in the elbows, swivels in the biceps, double hinges in the elbows, and the wrists are on hinged pegs so that they can be swapped out between a set of gun-holding hands and fists. The legs have ball joints in the hips, swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. He can swivel at the waist, and the neck is ball jointed.

Bumblebee comes with a few accessories, the most notable is his blaster, which includes two firing effect parts. The sculpt is a tad soft, but it’s an interesting design and it fits well in either of his hands. The effect parts are cast in translucent yellow plastic and peg into the muzzle of the gun.

And finally, he comes with an Energon Cube, which is a welcome bonus, especially since the one that came with Megatron was permanently attached to one of his hands.

I don’t hate this figure, but it’s a very strange entry into this series. Other than it being a non-transforming Transformer, it doesn’t really feel like it belongs with the others. It’s not at all to scale, and it even feels like some of the design elements are different. As a stand-alone figure, it’s not bad, but then I can’t help but think, if I’m going to own a stand-alone non-transforming Bumblebee figure, it should be something more special and higher quality than this. Maybe I’ll make him a desk buddy for a while, but he sure isn’t going to be displayed on a shelf with the other RED figures. And that makes me wonder what other oversized oddities this line has in store for us. Well, I’m only collecting the G1-style figures, so that means I just have Soundwave left to check out, and then I’ll be caught up.

Transformers (Robot Enhanced Design Series): Coronation Starscream by Hasbro

While haters gonna hate the idea of a line of Transformers figures that don’t transform, I’m a pretty big fan of the Robot Enhanced Design series. Sure, Hasbro and other companies have been getting closer and closer to developing cartoon-accurate versions of these characters that can transform, but the RED figures let them go all the way. Megatron and Optimus Prime were pretty good, I still have to double back and take a look at Soundwave, but for now I’m bumping Starscream to the head of line!

Technically, he’s Coronation Starscream, which means he comes with the accessories needed to display him based on that comic-relief scene in the ’86 movie where he proclaimed himself leader of the Decepticons, donned a crown, cape, and shoulderpads, and had the Constructions make use of their hitherto unknown collective skill at playing the trumpet. It’s a great scene, but I must not place as much stock in it as a lot of other fans, because the coronation parts included are not a selling point for me. So, let’s get them out of the way first…

The plastic shoulderpads plug into the backs of Starscream’s shoulders and the purple cape pegs in between them. It’s bizarre how similar it is to the technique used by The Four Horsemen’s to secure capes to their Mythic Legions figures, but it works. You also get a crown. The crown is kind of goofy in how large it is, and it’s a shame they couldn’t have given it a lick of gold-leaf paint to make it stand out more, but if you want to display an Emperor Starscream, I guess this works well enough. And now, I’m tossing all these parts into a bin, because I’ll never use them again.

Ahh, there’s the Air Commander that I know and love! From a sculpting standpoint, I think this figure looks great. They rounded out the edges, and gave him that sylized look that the transforming figures can’t quite get totally right. You get some panel lines for detail, but enough simplicity to keep it in line with his Sunbow counterpart. You do get intake fans in his chest, instead of vacant holes. It would have been cool to have these removable, but I don’t dislike them at all. As for the coloring? Well, the red and blue bits look great, but the gray is a bit too dark for my taste. I was actually a bit shocked when I first saw him in person at how dark the gray really is under normal lights, albeit it looks much better under the bright studio lights. I’ve grown a little more used to it, but it’s never going to be exactly what I wanted. The gold paint for his canopy looks fine, and I haven’t yet made my mind up about the scorch marks on his null rays.

From the back, Starscream really benefits from his non-transforming design. He’s clean and sleek with some well-toned thruster calves and his wings are finished on the backsides as well, along with some darker gray paint.

The head sculpt is excellent, and I like the smarmy smile on his face. As a person of German heritage, my people have a word, Backpfeifengesicht, which roughly translates, “A face that is badly in need of a fist.” I don’t know what the Cybertronian word is, but Starscream’s got it. And I mean that in every complimentary way. The paint is a little sloppy, but the eyes do have a nice reflective quality that at some angles almost looks like light-piping.

While articulation isn’t usually a big issue in tranforming Transformers these days, the RED concept allows for a bit more refinement when it comes to jointing. Starscream features a lot of great potential with plenty of rotating hinges, double-hinges, and swivels in strategic places. The wings are designed to hinge and not be an impediment, and he even has a the ability to rotate and bend in the waist. Which leads me to the soft joints. I mentioned in my reviews of Prime and Megsy that the plastic used here is kind of weird. It has a dense and solid feel to it that makes for a satisfyingly hefty figure. But, strangely it also makes for some really gummy joints, which is disappointing. Starscream does come with two pairs of hands: One set of fists, and a pair of relaxed open hands.

Last on the accessory list are a pair of purple energy blasts, which fit onto the barrels of Starscream’s null rays. These look really good, but the null rays don’t always handle the added weight. The weapons peg into Starscream’s arms in a very strange way, with the peg being on the arm and an extended socket on the weapons. It’s not a very deep connection, and they tend to fall off a bit too easy. Add the effect parts, and they tend to droop or fall off completely.

Re-reading this review, I was kind of surprised about how much nit-picks I had. Oh yeah, I also feel Starscream is a bit too tall when displayed next to Megatron. Damn… there goes another one! But, I was surprised, because I really don’t hate or even dislike this figure at all. There are a few odd design choices, I’m not a big fan of the plastic they’re using, but all in all its a fun figure that hasn’t diminished my love for the line. On the contrary, I’ll be the first one pounding the pre-order button when Hasbro inevitably repaints him into Thundercracker and Skywarp. And again, when he’s remolded into Dirge, Thrust, and Ramjet. But I’ll draw the line at Acid Storm. Shit, no I won’t.

Transformers Kingdom: Blackarachnia by Hasbro

I swore I wasn’t going to be buying any of the Beasts in the Kingdom line, because I’m running out of display and storage space. Plus, while I love the Beast Wars TV series, I was never all that into the toys. But it’s also no secret that I’ve rarely ever been able to keep my word when it comes to not buying toys. And for me, the deciding factor was when I fired up the Netflix series and started giving it a watch. The very next day, I was browsing the toy aisles at Target and Blackarachnia followed me home.

I have not been able to get into the other two Netflix series: Siege and Earthrise. I think they look great and I love how the animation models follow the toys so perfectly. But to be honest, they are so depressing to watch. I think they try way too hard to be grim-dark, and it just doesn’t work for me. I made it through most of Siege, but only about half of Earthrise. I wasn’t going to watch Kingdom at all, but I was really curious how they were going to work both Beasts and conventional Transformers into the same series. The result was interesting, and so has been the series so far. I don’t love it, but it does have me coming back for more. So, let’s check out my first Beast… The Predacon Blackarachnia! And as usual, we’ll start with the alt mode!

I’m going to be extremely generous when looking at this alt mode, because it just can’t be that easy to make a very humanoid robot transform into a realistic spider. And with that having been said, I think this figure does a pretty good job at it. The body has some robot kibble showing on the sides, but come on… it’s a spider and it looks fine! The engineering here isn’t mindblowing, as the bot basically folds up into a ball with the shoulders crunching under the spider head, and the arms and legs partially gathering under a body shell. It holds together fairly well, although one of my figure’s legs doesn’t lock up like it should. It’s not a critical problem, but it does make it harder to tighten up the seams in her body.

The body and legs are black with some nice texturing, and she has red spots on her back and a bunch of red eyes peppering her little spider face. The spider butt has something that I guess sort of resembles spinnerettes, protruding underneith. There are also a bunch of yellow bumps that sort of look like eyes. I’m no doctor of spiderology, but I don’t think spiders have peepers on their hineys, so I’m not sure what those are supposed to be. The black and red of the body is nicely offset by the yellow bits, which kind of look like the color of the goo that would come out if she were squished.

Blackarachnia’s legs have some pretty useful articulation. Each cluster of legs attaches to the body with one hinge, but then each leg is ball jointed further on down so it can be posed independently. The legs also do a pretty good job of holding the weight of the figure. All in all, I think this mode delivers pretty well for a Deluxe. So how about that robot mode?

Clearly, the robot mode was the design focus for this figure, because it’s outstanding! And seeing it really makes me appreciate the spider mode even more. Blackarachnia is clearly both all spider and all woman, with organic curves to her legs, wide hips, a narrow waist, and some rather impressive venom sacs. The spider’s butt lumps wind up on her pelvis, and what passed for spinnerettes become her claw-like hands. I also love the striking black and yellow coloring. She even looks great from the back, with the exception of those holes in her lower legs. Her spider body folds up neatly to form a backplate. What’s more her sizeable feet make her easy to balance, despite that leg kibble.

Yes, she’s got leg kibble for days, and I absolutely love how this design just owns it. The legs look really cool and aggressive in the way they angle away from her body, almost like skeletal wings. Granted, they have to be tweaked almost every time I pose her, but it’s worth the effort. I seem to remember in the TV show that Tarantulus’ leg kibble actually functioning as guns, but I can’t remember of Blackarachnia’s shared that function or not.

The head sculpt is excellent, and should satisfy fans of the Beast Wars series. At first, I though the sculpt was a little soft, but it’s really not. There’s plenty of detail in there. I like that they used a lighter shade of yellow for her mouth area, and she even got a little lick of red paint on her “crown.” I also dig the Predacon emblem painted on her collar.

Blackarachnia’s articulation is absolutely fabulous. She’s got rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, hinges in the elbows, ball joints in the hips, swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. Some of these points are in service to her transformation, others are just there to make her loads of fun to play with.

Of course, Blackarachnia comes with her trademark crossbow-type weapon, which pegs surprisingly well into either of her claw hands.

I have to say, I’m glad I weakened, overcame my self-imposed Beast Bot Ban, and picked up this figure! She’s been on my desk ever since I first opened her up, and I’ve been messing around with her a lot in my downtime. The transformation isn’t too fiddly, although I do wish that one leg locked up properly in her spider mode. Even still, she looks fine in her alt mode, and exceptionally good in her femme-bot mode. But, the real question is… do I like her enough to buy more Beast Bots? Time will tell!

Transformers Kingdom: Tracks by Hasbro


My backlog of Transformers reviews is growing, and while I’d like to get to some of the older stuff, I’m always tempted to check out a new figure that arrives. Maybe I’ll do a Backlog Week and hit some of the really old figures I missed. As for Tracks, well he was getting a pretty lukewarm reception among collector circles by the time my pre-order arrived, so I was a little apprehensive about checking him out.

Here he is in the Kingdom packaging, and I still don’t know what the intention of this line is. Cars? Beasts? It’s just a free for all! But I’m going to start watching the Netflix series this week, so we’ll see what it’s all about. We last saw tracks about ten years ago in the Reveal The Shield line, so I think this figure is more than overdue, and I’ll do a comparison between the two figures at the end. For now, let’s get started with his alt mode.

I don’t usually start by commenting on the transformation, but I think it’s justified here. Transforming Tracks can be a little annoying when you’re going into car mode. There’s a lot of precise positioning, which we haven’t seen a lot of in the Deluxe Class toys of recent years, and even when you get it all correct, the results are problematic. I can get just about everything to lock in perfectly, but the two front quarter-panels always refuse to peg in flush with the hood. Squeeze them into place, they keep popping back out, and apparently this isn’t just an issue with my particular figure, but pretty much all of them. It makes me wonder whether this was an issue on the prototype, and they just said screw it, or whether it was an issue that cropped up during production. Solcitation pictures don’t show the problem, so I’m guessing it’s the later.

And that’s a real shame, because looking past that, the rest of the car looks great. There’s no license markings, but it’s clearly a close approximation of Tracks’ G1 Corvette mode. It’s got some sexy curves, and sure there are a lot of seams from the interlocking plates, but that’s often par for the course. The vibrant electric blue plastic, along with the crimson flame on the hood and the Autobot insignia make for a knockout deco. The windows are smoked, there are some gray bumpers, and black grills under the headlamps. and the wheels are painted silver. There are some exposed pins that can be a little distracting, but it’s hard to nitpick them when the car doesn’t even lock together properly.

You get some weapon ports on the sides front quarter panels, another back near the trunk, and one in the back, where you can plug in a blast effect to mimic flaming thrust. Pretty cool! Tracks doesn’t come with a blast effect, but you do get a black gun and a rack of white missiles.

Tracks can still convert into his flying car mode, which looks fine. It would have been nice if the arm pieces tabbed into the car, but I guess that’s not a big deal, as they stay in place pretty well. I’ll throw out here my apologies for shooting Tracks against a white backdrop. I wanted to really bring out the gorgeous blue plastic in the pictures, but it makes his white parts, like the wings, really hard to see. And while we’re on the subject, I would have really liked a couple of red stripes on those wings.

The robot mode is not too shabby, but I think it lacks the cleaner and more refined modes that we’ve been seeing in other recent Deluxe Class bots. I think this bot is a better homage to his G1 toy than his animated counterpart, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. Plus, he looks fine right alongside his fellow Kingdom and Earthrise Autobots. The chest is faked out, as the actual roof of the car is folded up into his backpack. Some people cry foul at this practice, but it doesn’t bother me. It allows for better proportions, and in this case, it also allows for the Autobot symbol to appear on the chest, but not on the car. The backpack locks into place, and gives his missile rack a place to plug into. From behind, he’s mostly a slab of car plates, which is fine. His legs do close up all around, but I’m not terribly keen on the gaps for his feet. I know, he’s a robot, but it’s at odds with the G1 aesthetic.

The head is perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing. Tracks’ mix of red face and white “helmet” is so bizarre and unique that it’s become iconic. The shoulders are a little broad, but that’s always been the case for Tracks. It’s hard to help it with the wheels positioned the way they are. I do wish the wings were attached to his body and not the shoulders, because they move when you articulate his arms, and I’d much prefer they stay put.

I’ve seen some complaints about Tracks’ legs being super loose. It’s true that they are pretty loose on my figure, but I haven’t had any problems getting them to hold his weight in a variety of poses. He hasn’t done the splits or collapsed on me once. Sometimes I miss the good old days of ball joints, as loose joints could be easily fixed, and that’s not so easy when you’re dealing with pins, but it can still be done. Mine just isn’t an issue, so I’m not going to mess with it.

As we saw in the alt mode, Tracks comes with a pistol, which looks like a shortened version of his Black Beam Rifle.

Bringing in Reveal The Shield Tracks, it’s always shocking to see how much bigger the Deluxe figures were back then. The old Tracks sure had a bitchin’ auto mode, and all his panels held together just fine. The deeper blue looks nice, and while the added color to the hood decals make for a dynamic deco, I think I prefer the simpler look on the newer figure. Obviously, these car models are from very different eras, and while I can appreciate a modern Tracks, the Classic, early 80’s design works better for me. With all that having been said, the older Tracks in car mode is just an all around better toy.

I think things get a lot more up for debate in robot mode. I think RTS Tracks is still a great looking figure, but he’s going for a very different aesthetic. He looks more Alternators inspired than anything else, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. There’s also some really clever stuff going on with his transformation, which really delighted me when I transformed him for the first time in years. Not to mention, that RTS Tracks shares his body with RTS Wheeljack! Still, he’s got little baby arms, and stubby little wings that hang of fhis doors. Kingdom Tracks is just so much cleaner and really a fine compromise between toy and cartoon aesthetic. In the end, I’m going to give the nod to new Tracks, but it’s worth mentioning that I expected to sell off RTS Tracks when I got the new one, but now I think I’ll end up keeping him.

It’s impossible to give Kingdom Tracks’ alt mode a pass. It never should have gone to production like that. It’s especially tragic when you look at how great the rest of the car looks. The robot mode, however, is pretty damn sweet, and to be fair that’s the way I display these figures most of the time anyway. I’m sure that I come across as a Hasbro shill most of the time, and this next comment won’t help any, but if this Tracks’ gaps are the biggest Transformers screw up Hasbro has done, I think they’re doing OK. I mean, at least they aren’t making any of these Transformers figures impossible to get store exclusives, right?

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!