Transformers Legacy: Dragstrip by Hasbro

Lately collecting Transformers for me has become a cycle of conflict. It goes something like this. Oh no, they’re doing him again. We just got him and I don’t need to buy another. Oh, but look at how much better he looks than the last one. Oh, and it’s actually been five to ten years since we last got him. Huh, seems like it was more recent. Oh, what the hell, I’ll buy him anyway because he really is a big improvement. Transformers is the only line I collect, where it feels like I’m constantly upgrading to a better version of an existing character, and yet I’m a sucker for convertorobots, so I usually do it.

And here we go again, because it’s Dragstrip! A character that last saw release in aptly named Combiner Wars back around 2015. And while it feels like that was just yesterday, it really was quite a while ago. As with Hasbro’s last crack at the Stunticons, Dragstrip and the other limbs are Deluxes, but this time it looks like Motormaster will be a Commander Class, which I think is the new Leader Class. That classification makes sense, since those figures have been getting smaller, but coming with more stuff. And, unlike the Combiner Wars version, this Motormaster will have a trailer. Anyway, we’ve seen the Legacy packaging before. I dig the deco, but I’ll continue to complain about the toy being exposed to the elements, not to mention the disgusting booger-mining fingers of children. Just put them in closed boxes, Hasbro. Let’s start with the alt-mode…

Nice! One of my many issues with CW Dragstrip was that the mold was obviously intended to double as Mirage. And so, while we did get an F-1 racer, it wasn’t really the Dragstrip I knew from the G1 toy or the Sunbow cartoon. This version fixes that very well, most notably giving him his distinctive double wheels on the front and the exposed engine on the back. The vehicle is very compact and boxy, and I absolutely love it. I particularly dig what they did with the front scoop, giving him what looks a bit like a cow-catcher on a locomotive, perfect for ramming Autobots off the road!

The colors here are also spectacular! Hasbro took the basic yellow and red stripes from the original toy, but added in some of the brownish-gold from the Sunbow animated model. Toss in the beautiful silver paint on the engine, and the black wheels, and you’ve got a striking color scheme, that manages to pay respects to both G1 versions that I love so much! The large Decepticon insignia on the front is a great touch as well!

Dragstrip comes with a pair of guns, which can be pegged into the holes on the top sides of the vehicle if you like to weaponize your racecars!

Transforming Dragstrip is just complex enough to be satisfying, but not annoying. The result is an absolutely stellar looking robot mode, which again pays respects to the character’s roots. Gone is the f’ugly combiner port chest, and in its place is the open cockpit with the silver exposed engine block, just like the toy and Sunbow versions. Other great call-outs are the spoilers making up the feet, and the position of the wheels, with the backs landing on his lower legs, and the double fronts on his shoulders. Here, Hasbro went with the Sunbow look of having the shoulder wheels line up front to back, rather than on top of each other like the toy. He even has the shoulder ridges, which remind me of the ridges armor sometimes had to prevent decapitation in battle. Even from the back, he’s pretty damn clean and tight.

The head sculpt is a welcome departure from whatever the hell it was that we got with the Combiner Wars figure. While, I eventually warmed up to that figure, I never stopped hating the portrait. Here, we get a very Sunbow looking head sculpt, featuring the bold red visor, red plates on the sides of the “helmet” as well as the little “ears” jutting out the sides.

The color scheme in robot mode is pretty much identical to the alt mode. It’s dominated by thes ame bright yellow and brown-gold accents. I do like how the red stripes land on his arms. Really, the only thing missing here is a little Decepticon insignia near his left shoulder. Indeed, there’s no faction symbol in this mode at all, but I suppose that can be easily fixed with a repro-sticker.

As we saw while looking at the alt-mode, Dragstrip comes with a pair of pistols, which can be combined into one gun, as well as wielded separately. It definitely references the Sunbow gun over the original toy’s, particularly with the inclusion of the scope. The guns look OK when combined, but it does give them two sets of grips, which is a bit weird. I will likely display him with just one pistol and set the other aside, or peg it into his back for storage. The black and purple deco on the guns is excellent!

Almost everything about CW Dragstrip felt like a compromise, whereas the Legacy version is 100% its own thing, and I absolutely love that! Hasbro executed this figure with style and precision, and apart from the bot mode missing a faction symbol, I can’t find anything bad to say about him! Indeed, it’s especially interesting how there’s virtually nothing about him that advertises the figure as doubling as a Combiner limb. No obvious ports or connectors, no extra parts, nothing! Only a tiny graphic on the box suggests he’s part of a Combiner team, and I suspect that’s because all the Combiner stuff will be found in Motormaster.

Transformers Legacy: Blaster & Eject by Hasbro

The hot newness around the Transformers world is the Legacy series, but it really just seems to be a continuation of the previous lines, with a heavy lean in to the old favorite Generation 1 designs and a smattering of Beast Wars here and there. And in keeping with their sometimes irritating habit of recent redos, Hasbro is taking another crack at everyone’s favorite Autobot boombox, Blaster!

I say recent redos, but to be fair we last saw Blaster about five years ago in the Titans Return line, and it was about four years before that when he was released in Generations. Now, I wouldn’t call three Blasters in the course of about a decade overkill, but there are still other characters who are overdue for their time in the spotlight. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t I see this figure released in Kingdom packaging as well? To be honest, it’s getting hard for me to keep track of some of Hasbro’s releases these days. Anywho, Blaster comes in the colorful new packaging we last saw with Skids, and there’s still a big open window so kids can stick their disgusting little peanut butter fingers all over my toy. Also billed in this package is Eject, which is thankfully a cassette tape and not a Headmaster head, like we got with Twin Cast. Let’s check out the alt modes…

For a long while, Hasbro seemed to be ashamed of the old tape player modes. That was especially the case with Soundwave, but Hasbro seems to have gotten over it, as the last Blaster we got was a boombox, and so is this one. And because we aren’t dealing with any third base mode, this one looks pretty damn good. You get the red body with gray side speakers, a yellow tape door, and a carry bar up top. There are some non-working knobs, and a row of buttons, which can be pressed to open the tape door. There’s not much happening on the flipside, although as you can see, I have a few pieces that aren’t aligned perfectly, which just goes to show this is a fairly forgiving transformation. Colors aside, this looks a lot like the Emerson boombox I used to record songs off the radio with when I was a kid!

The tape deck is pretty small, but I still think it scales pretty well with the Netflix War For Cyberton Soundwave release. A figure, which I never got around to reviewing, but here’s a comparison, nonetheless. Personally, I think they look good together.

As I mentioned earlier, the tape door is spring loaded, and pops open when you press the row of buttons under it. At which point you can pull out Eject in his cassette mode. Eject is mostly cast in this beautiful blue transparent plastic, with some gray parts and gold trim. They didn’t really go overboard with any cassette tape markings, but you can clearly see the two tape reels as part of the sculpt. I wan’t a big fan of the days when Hasbro was turning the cassettes into bombs or data pads, or data discs. It’s nice to see them as cassettes again. The flipside isn’t very polished, and if you’re a goofball like i am and don’t turn the head around, you can see Eject peeking back at you. Let’s check out his robot mode, before getting back to Blaster.

Eject is a pretty cool little guy, and while some may have issue with the use of translucent plastic, I actually like it a lot. It looks gorgeous with the gold paint, and Eject’s proportions aren’t too bad for a little cassette bot. And thanks to some ball joints and rotating hinges, he’s got plenty of articulation too.

Blaster’s transformation is a bit more complex than his old G1 toy, but the principle is pretty much the same. The robot mode is clean and well-proportioned and looks great. You still get the tape door on his chest, the speakers on his lower legs, and I dig the way the carry bar splits and locks into the outside of his legs. Those hollow forearms are a shame, but nothing that’s going to ruin the toy for me, and he even looks surprisingly polished from the back, and includes a whole slew of ports back there so he can store his gun and a bunch of other stuff. They even hit a homerun with the head sculpt here.

Hasbro sculpted Blaster’s right hand so that he has a pointing index finger to allow him to push his own buttons and eject a tape while in robot mode. Seriously, can these guys not just activate eject internally? Why they gotta push their own buttons? Either way, it’s worth mentioning that Blaster has some serious ankle tilts, to keep them feets flat on the floor even in dynamic wide stances, and I sure do appreciate that!

Blaster comes with his very distinctive sniper-rifle style gun. There are plenty of Transformers out there who could get away with any old weapon design, but you can’t mess with this design. It just wouldn’t be Blaster without it!

And if you were playing with Transformers back in the 80’s, you know what a triumph it is to have a Blaster and a Soundwave that actually scale well together. Blaster is just a tad taller than that Netflix Soundwave. Just enough to keep with tradition, but not enough to make it awkward when you want to have them fight. And boy do they look fantastic together!

What’s one of the things that bug me the most about Transformers in the last ten years or so? Hasbro puts out a figure and I really like it. Then four or five years later, they put out a new version and it makes the previous figure, the one I was perfectly happy with, look like poop. That’s probably why my Transformers toys are the only aspect of my collection that I purge with some regularity. There are some older favorites that I keep, but even though the Titans Return Blaster is a distinctive figure with its own charms, now that this new Blaster has come along, I really have no need to keep him in the collection anymore.

Transformers Legacy: Skids by Hasbro

What’s this? A new main line of Transformers? Well, at least that’s my assumption, that Legacy will be replacing the Trilogy of Siege, Earthrise, and Kingdom as the new Generations line, and what better character to launch this Legacy series than… Oh, it’s Skids. Ok, then…

Well, I do like the art design! Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, I like it better than what we’ve been getting. The character art has been phenomenal, but some derivation of the boring black package with generic font Transformers running up the side has been with us for a while. This is colorful and trippy and while the Legacy logo doesn’t really scream Transformers brand to me, I can get behind this. Unfortunately, like the packaging we saw in my Buzzworthy Bumblebee review, Hasbro has stopped using plastic windows to save the planet and now leaves the toy exposed to the elements, as well as the sticky fingers of children. I would much rather they just use a completely enclosed box, but whatever. Let’s start with Skids alt mode.

Ah, the Honda City Turbo. It’s a car I never heard of before meeting Skids, and one that I haven’t heard of since. I should go on record here by saying that I’ve never been a fan of Skids. He was kind of a non-entity in the Sunbow cartoon. Indeed, off-hand I can only remember him being in two episodes: Quest for Survival and Triple Takeover. Both are great episodes, but certainly not because Skids happened to be in them. His toy was released too late to be part of the original Class of 84 Autobots, but too early to be included with the hot newness of the 1985 roster. I do distinctly remember finding him in Sears and my Dad saying, “oh, a new Transformer?” You want him? And I said nah, and wound up getting something else instead. At the time, there was just nothing about him that made him desirable to me and he was one of the only Autobots in the 1984-85 line up that I never owned.

Skids is a box on wheels, and certainly doesn’t share the stylish contours of the vintage Datsuns or sexy Lamborghinis. But with that being said, this is a fantastic new version of the original car form. Hasbro didn’t go too far off the page with this one, keeping the same midnight blue body and the same red and white striping on the sides. The front grill is gray with yellow headlamps, and there’s an Autobot emblem on the hood. The windshield and front windows are tinted blue, and you get lots of nice sculpted detail, including quad exhaust, a gas cap, and the screen on the front and back bumpers. The back is a little bland, but all in all, this is a nice alt mode for what it is.

Skids comes with a few weapons, and these can be attached using any of the three ports (one up top, and two on the sides), if you want to weaponize this mode.

Transforming Skids is pretty intuitive and the resulting robot looks surprisingly nice. The front bumper chest and door-wings has always been my favorite look for an Autobot, and Skids wears them quite well. Yeah, the chest is sharply squared off, and reminds me a bit of Armada Red Alert, but I ain’t hating it. The rest of the figure is nicely proportioned, and adds some more red to the deco, both down on his feet, and smack dab in the middle of his robot cod piece. And when viewed from behind, he’s all closed up and polished to a shine.

The head sculpt is very close to what I remember the original toy looking like, although I’m remembering him with yellow eyes instead of blue. The silver face paint looks sharp, and he wears a slight expression of disapproval on his lips, like he just saw that Spike’s report card and he got a C- in Algebra.

For an Autobot who’s primary function is a theoretician, Skids does come with a lot of weapons. You get two silver blasters, one is a stout single barrel pistol, and the other is a dual barreled gun, which can combine together to form a pretty formidable looking piece of hardware.

You also get what I think is supposed to be some kind of Energon Ax, which can also combine with the guns in a number of ways to make, well… I don’t know what. The ax replaces the rocket launcher that came with the original toy, and I’m cool with that!

The only reason I picked up Skids was because he was a new figure in a new line, and I was excited. But in reality, Legacy appears to just be an extension of what we’ve been getting in the War For Cybertron stuff, which is pretty much what I’m looking for in my Transformers anyway. Change the packaging all you want, Hasbro, but you’ve been batting a thousand with your Generations Transformers lately, and I don’t want to see that change. As for the figure itself, Skids if great! I’m legitimately surprised at how happy I am with this pick up, and he’s going to look fantastic on my Autobot shelf!

Buzzworthy Bumblebee: Origin Bumblebee by Hasbro

While I have been focusing exclusively on the Generations-style stuff, Hasbro has been maintaining a few different lines of their profitable change-o-bots, one of those being this Buzzworthy Bumblebee series. I don’t get it. At first, I thought this was a tie-in for some streaming cartoon directed at the younger Transformers fans, but apparently that’s not the case. So, yeah… I really don’t get it and the stupid name inexplicably makes me angry, so I’ve been largely ignoring it. That is until I saw they did a version of Bumblebee based on his Cybertronian appearance in the first episode of the More Than Meets The Eye mini-series.

Well, the packaging design is nice! We get a bright yellow box, with the Transformers logo in black, and some various shots of Bumblebee on the side. What I don’t like here is the lack of a plastic window over the toy. Yes, I understand it’s an environmental thing, but I don’t like the idea that kids can come along and stick boogers on my action figure. DAMN KIDS… STAY OUT OF THE TOY AISLE… YOU THINK TOYS ARE FOR KIDS? GO PLAY YOUR FORTCRAFTING APP!!! I would much rather Hasbro just used a completely enclosed box. If I’m willing to spend $200 on a Titan Class figure and not get to see it until I open it, I think I’d be OK taking a gamble on a $20 Deluxe Class, knowing a kid didn’t touch it with his peanut butter fingers. But, enough complaining… let’s start with the alt mode!

Wow, this is a pretty cool little representation of Bumblebee’s Cybertron mode in the Sunbow style and one that I would have loved to have as a kid. It’s sleek and smooth, with stubby wings and a single blue windshield. It kind of looks like what you would get if you took his Earth mode, removed the wheels and squished it. Come to think of it, it was pretty damn convenient that Cybertron’s alt modes each had a suitable Earth mode counterpart.

Yes, it certainly has a mess of seams from the transformation, but that doesn’t bother me too much. Some of them mix well with the existing panel lines in the sculpt, and to be fair, the network of seams signify that a decent amount of thought and engineering went into this little toy, rather than just go for a lazy shell-former. And while you can’t tell yet, I was particularly impressed that the hood section with the Autobot emblem actually becomes the chest in robot mode, rather than being entirely faked out. Overall, the toy locks together pretty well, and I couldn’t be more pleased!

There are three sockets on the vehicle to plug weapons into, but since I’m a fan of symmetry, I just plugged Bumblebee’s gun into the one on the top.

And here he is in robot mode, and I have to say the transformation is pretty clever, fairly intuitive, and not at all too finicky. As I’m sure I’ve said before, my favorite thing to do with new Transformers is to try to figure them out without looking at the instructions. I wasn’t sure that was going to work here, but I made it happen. And yes, we have a fair amount of ugly kibble on those lower legs. I’m not a fan of it, but I can certainly understand that it had to go somewhere, and to be fair, that’s pretty much all of it. He wears the vehicle roof on his back, like a lot of Autobot cars, and just like in the cartoon, the chest piece is stylized to have the VW windows we’re used to seeing on Bumblebee, despite him not taking on that alt mode yet.

The head sculpt is excellent! I think I actually like this one a bit more than the one we got on the War For Cybertron figure, although that one isn’t too bad either. Here we get a little smirk and a fatter, more stylized helmet. This one just screams a little more Sunbow style to me!

Bumblebee comes with a pistol and a jetpack. The jetpack was initially shown off in silver, and I would have preferred it, but what we got is just black plastic. I guess it matches his deco better.

And you also get some of the conductor rods that Bumblebee and Wheeljack were scavenging in the beginning of the first episode. These are a pretty cool bonus accessory, although honestly it doesn’t look like there is enough energy in them to last a quartrex.

In terms of size, in robot mode this figure comes up at almost the exact same height as the War For Cybertron Volkswagen version. His vehicle mode, on the other hand, is a wee bit bigger.

All in all, this is a fun little figure, and one that I didn’t think we’d ever see realized. Despite all the Bumblebee figures Hasbro produces, he’s gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to Cybertron alt modes, and I’m glad they chose this one when they finally got around to doing one. I passed this one up on the pegs a couple times, before eventually grabbing him one day when I couldn’t find anything else and didn’t want to go home empty handed. And I’m mighty glad I did!

Transformers (Studio Series 86): Gnaw by Hasbro

Hasbro has been turning out some excellent figures from the original Transformers animated movie through their Studio Series. I’ve covered quite a few of these, but I’ve still got some catching up to do, so today I’m going to have a look at Gnaw the Sharkticon!

It was about five years ago when we last saw Gnaw on the pegs, and that release was a tiny Legends Class, whereas now Gnaw is getting a proper Deluxe Class treatment. As always, the character art for the Studio Series packaging looks great, although I’m still not a fan of the black and red deco with the Transformers logo running up the side in sterile typeface. Also, it looks like something was gnaw-ing at the top of this box, which is fine because I’m about to shred it open. One thing I dig here is the Quintesson faction symbol next to Gnaw’s name. I’ve never noticed Hasbro using that piece of art before and It looks pretty badass! I think I’ll break tradition here and start with Gnaw’s robot mode.

In robot mode, the Sharkticons are the oompa loompas of the scrapyards. They’re short and stocky, and they don’t look too dangerous when they’re solo, but get a pack together and they just overwhelm. Hasbro did a beautiful job here updating the original toy, which has a robot mode that has not aged well. Here we see some great proportions, nice sculpted detail and beautiful colors. Hasbro borrowed the mauve and blue, dark gray and off-white from the original toy and streamlined it to resemble the animated model a lot more. Still, I would have loved to see some silver paint in place of the chrome from the original toy. At least on the teeth!

From the back, this guy is pretty damn tight, with his back dominated by a slab of black, almost like a turtle shell, and his tiny beastly arms hanging off his shoulders. All the beast mode kibble here is well placed, looking like they were style choices, rather than just some random place to tuck them. Everything about this bot mode feels polished to a fine shine. And for such a stocky guy, there’s some great articulation here, right down to the ankle tilts to keep his feet flat on the ground.

The head is a great homage to the original toy’s noggin, sporting a very distinctive “helmet” and a broad face. There’s a lot more detail here and a very displeased expression. I like to imagine that the Sharkticons are just in bad moods all the time because they’re always hungry for more Energon. I also love how well protected this guy’s head is. It’s right in the middle off a perimeter of teeth! I think the only thing I would have changed here would be to get some bright crimson paint on those eyes.

The Sharkticon comes with two weapons for his robot mode. The first is a rather large blaster rifle, which is almost as long as he is tall. The second is a spiked flail, which forms his tail in his beast mode. And speaking of which, let’s check out that beast mode!

I really like what we got here, even if it feels like the emphasis was on the robot mode over this one. The transformation is pretty simple, and yet rather clever at the same time, and everything locks together to make a solid little eating machine. The legs are set pretty far back, but they do a nice job balancing him upright. The hip joints have a habit of dropping him every now and then, but for the most part he stays standing, even without using his tail as a support.

The face is spot on perfect to me, with it’s metallic green bug yes and it’s giant maw of teeth. The jaw is hinged so he can bite, although there isn’t a whole lot of room inside that mouth. On that note, the robot head is unfortunately right inside, albeit facing down. You don’t really see his face, and I suppose the back of the head just works as some kind of weird bulbous tongue. Still, I would have liked to have seen it fold up inside the body, rather than be hanging out there. My only other nitpick is the arms. They swivel at the shoulders and have hinges in the elbows, which isn’t bad, but the shoulders should have been ball jointed.

As mentioned, the flail weapon becomes the tail, and you can also plug the rifle into the Sharkticon’s side to give him some extra firepower.

And here’s a couple comparison shots of the new Gnaw with the previous release. I seem to recall liking the Legends Gnaw when it came out, and to be honest I still do. As a Legends Class toy, it’s a lot simpler, but I think it did a fine job for what it is. And I think it displays really well with the new release, as some sort of less developed version of the Quintessons’ attack dogs.

Also, in keeping with the past Studio Series releases, the package does include a little display backdrop. I really love these, but if I’m being honest with myself, I probably won’t keep them. It would just take up way too much space to display each figure on one of these, and I don’t really want a whole tote full of them taking up more space in the closets.

The 86 movie Transformers figures hit the shelves at a time where I was still watching the cartoon and still taking note of the toys, but I wasn’t really playing with or buying them anymore. As a result, I never owned the original, and I’m happy to see this guy get such an gnawesome treatment. I grabbed up three of them to match the number of the Legends Class version I have, and I think that’ll probably be enough, although if I can find them at a good deal, I won’t say no to a couple more.

Transformers Kingdom: Warpath by Hasbro

It’s been more than ten years since the last Hasbro Warpath figure was welcomed into my collection (I skipped the Combiner Wars release). That Generations figure had a lot going for it, but it was more of a Cybertronian take on the character, with a decidedly unearthly tank mode. Dang, Hasbro, you sure do love your H-Tanks! But, fast forward to the Kingdom series, where Hasbro finally given us a more Earthy attempt at my favorite excitedly expositional tank! Yeah, Warpath was released a little while ago, but I’m trying to chip away at my enormous backlog.

I’m not sure why Warpath gets such scant love, but I was happy to see him listed as an up and coming figure, as well as a Deluxe Class. I think the old G1 Minibots present a ton of opportunity for being modernized, and in some-cases upscaled. Scale was never a constant in the old Sunbow cartoon, but I prefer to see these little guys reborn as Deluxe Class figures, so they can stand shoulder to shoulder with the Autobot cars without fear of getting stepped on. Let’s start with the alt mode!

Oh yeah… now that’s a proper tank mode! Sure it’s a burgundy tank with white treads, but it’s a fairly realistic design and pays a striking homage to the original figure’s deco. The treads are only sculpted, but there are four tiny wheels hidden under them to help Warpath roll out. The cupola can rotate 360-degrees and the cannon can raise and lower. Warpath doesn’t come with an additional weapons Hey, whaddya want? he’s a tank!, but he does have a number of ports so you can plug some extra weapons onto him if you have them lying around.

There’s a ton of great detail in Warpath’s hull! You get panel lines, tiny vents and hatches. I dig how the back plate looks like it could drop down to offload the crew, even though that’s just part of the transformation. My figure has a problem holding the seam together just under his cannon, but otherwise the tank mode holds together quite well. I’ll confess that I’ve had fun having him stalk imaginary targets around the obstacles (junk) of a crowded battlefield (my desk). So how’s the robot mode?

Eh, it’s OK. I like it, but I don’t love it. I like the proportions well enough. His big, tread-bottomed feet look appropriately powerful enough to withstand the force of firing his cannon in robot mode. The cannon collapses all the way into his chest to become one giant robo-nipple. I wish the cupola collapsed down a bit too, but that’s probably asking a lot from Deluxe Class engineering. On the plus side, it gives him a bit of a bitchin’ Mechwarrior profile. But those large chunks of tank tread forearm kibble is kind of hard to take. There’s a lot of give and take here.

All the great detail from the tank’s hull shows up in the robot mode, making the robot mode look just as realistic as the alt mode. Heck, if you look really closely at the back of his knee joints there are sculpted gears in there! The colors also remain pretty consistent from one mode to the next, with just a little more white showing up on Warpath’s midriff. His big clodhoppers feature some pretty generous tilts to keep him surefooted in action poses.

Warpath’s head sculpt leans heavily on his G1 roots, and I’m happy for that. His round face is almost entirely obscured by his mouth plate, leaving just a little band visible to show his blue eyes and the bridge of his nose. I know what you’re thinking: How does he smell with that plate covering his nose? Probably like diesel fumes! HA! Still, the head looks kind of small, which I think is more a trick of the elongated chest than a result of being actually undersized.

And yes, you can extend Warpath’s cannon while he’s in robot mode. I like to think that Warpath was fan of Melville: “If his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it!” To which he would follow up with “WHAM! BANG! KAZOOOWIE!!!”

I do enjoy this figure, but as I said earlier, I just can’t bring myself to love it. While an improvement in many ways over the ten year old Generations figure, Kingdom Warpath feels like maybe a five year old figure. And I think that says more about the company he keeps. To me, his robot mode lacks the pitch perfect polish that we’ve been getting out of figures in Earthrise and Kingdom. I’ve come to regard many of these figures as budget Masterpiece versions, and Warpath certainly ain’t that.

Transformers Kingdom (Golden Disk Collection): Jackpot and Sights by Hasbro

I had planned on skipping these Amazon Exclusive Golden Disk Collection repaints, but one night when some of them were presented to my drunken self by Amazon, I guess I must have slammed that BUY IT button, because they later showed up at my door. That’s fine. I am, however, a little embarrassed by the fact that I still haven’t reviewed some of the original figures that these are repaints of. Indeed, I actually did an entire photo shoot with Jackpot here, while under the impression that I had reviewed Studio Series Jazz. But nope. Had I known that, I probably would have gone with more of a joint review, but let’s just press on anyway.

Well, this is a pleasant surprise! I was expecting the crappy brown box that the past Amazon Exclusives came in, but this is colorful and pretty nice, even if the artwork is kind of bland. The figures inside come tied to a corrugate tray, so it’s nothing fancy, but at least the box is collector friendly should you decide to keep it. I was already out of playing with Transformers by the time Jackpot and the Action Masters arrived, so I didn’t have the original figure, but I love that we’re getting modern transforming toys out of them. Let’s start with Jackpot’s alt mode.

The car is a straight repaint of Studio Series Jazz, and this is an excellent little recreation of the Porsche 935 Turbo. All the familiar beats are here from the semi-squared off front bumper, the down sloping hood, to the beautiful rounded swells over the wheel wells, and the prominent spoiler. This mold made for an excellent Jazz and it certainly cuts a different look with this wild new black and yellow deco. It very nearly makes it look like the mold has had some tweaks, even though that’s not the case. The added silver to the front bumper looks great, as does the orange on the headlamps and rear bumpers. Jackpot sports some snappy translucent orange on his windows, and an Autobot emblem on the front middle of the hood. Considering the G1 Jackpot had no alt mode, I think this turned out pretty cool.

I don’t have a lot to complain about here, except maybe the clips holding on the front wheels look a tad cheap. There’s a slight difference in yellow where the painted plastic meets the colored plastic, but neither nitpick is a big deal. I don’t know how collectors unfamiliar with the original character will take to this paint scheme, but I dig it.

Jackpot comes with a repaint of Jazz’s gun, which can be plugged into the socket on the roof to weaponize him. He also comes with a blast effect part for the gun. Cool!

As with Jazz, transforming Jackpot holds no surprises. It’s not all that dissimilar from the recent Datsuns. He’s pretty quick going to and from either mode, and the panels lock together fairly well in the auto mode. Like the Datsuns, he’s a bit broad shouldered, but otherwise the proportions are just fine and he makes for a great and very classic looking robot. Yeah, his lower legs are hollow, but I’ve come to expect that. His roof and doors fold up neatly on his back, although I would have preferred he kept the G1-style door-wings, but that’s something I miss more on the Jazz version than this one. As for the deco, it doesn’t really change much from his auto mode, other than adding some orange to his feet and lower legs. It’s not a perfect match for the original figure, but certainly close enough for me.

The only new sculpting here is found in Jackpot’s head, and it’s a great update to the Action Master portrait. I’m not a big fan of the super obvious seam running down the top center of his “helmet,” but otherwise I like the head just fine. The orange visor matches his deco nicely, and the styling of the sides of his head look really cool.

In addition to the repaint of Jazz’s gun, Jackpot comes with his buddy Sights. Yeah, the homage here is a tad off. Sights is still a robotic bird (and a great one at that!), but he transforms into a battle axe instead of a photon cannon, which makes his name rather curious, but it’s fine. You can still work him into a gun of sorts, but I think I prefer him as an axe.

In the end, I’m glad i picked up this figure! I love updates to some of the more obscure G1 toys, and it’s cool to get a transforming version of Jackpot into this collection. Going with the Jazz mold was a no-brainer, and it’s nice to see such an excellent figure get repainted into another character. Sure, Jazz is still my favorite of the two, so don’t take the fact that he got passed over for a review as meaning otherwise, but Jackpot turned out to be a fantastic re-release of an already fantastic mold!

Transformers (Studio Series 86): Dinobot Slug by Hasbro

Seems like it’s been a little while since I last visited with Hasbro’s eternal line of convertobotformers, and boy do I have a huge backlog! I’ve got a lot of goodies to choose from, so many so that I’m going to have to do a Backlog Week where I can dig way back into the stack of overlooked bots. But after a quick scan of my shelf, and my attention was immediately drawn to the second Dinobot in the Studio Series line… Let’s check out Slag!

Yeah, yeah. For reasons, he’s now called Dinobot Slug, but I’ll be referring him to Slag for the remainder of this piece. You’ll note that the box also credits the inclusion of Daniel Whitwicky, but I’ll save him for the end. The box has some decent character art and the Transformers movie logo, but man am I tired of this overall box layout. The black background with the red generic lettered Transformers running up the side is so boring and lacks any semblance of creativity. Never in a million years would I have guessed that Hasbro would stick with this crap for so long. But I throw out the box anyway, so who cares! Let’s start with the dino mode!

CHONKS!!! When it comes to Dinobots, big and beefy wins the day… and Slag meets both of those criteria. Slag’s alt form is a Triceratops, or at least that’s what it was called when I was a kid. The scientists have been working overtime deleting my childhood dinosaur names, who knows what’s what these days. Whatever the case, I think Hasbro did a nice job on the alt mode here, although it does have a bit of a patchwork quality about it. That’s mainly from the mix of gray, black, red, gold, and white plastics. He’s got some solid proportions and a tank-like quality about him, despite the hollow hind legs. He’s based on the movie’s animated appearance, but there’s still a lot of great sculpted detail in his metallic hide. You get panel lines, pipes, hatches, vents, and all sorts of technological gizmos on display. I especially dig how his gun is used to fill out his tail.

The head has a nice satiny gold finish, which is repeated for the back ridges and tail, and the blue eyes are quite striking. He’s got white plastic horns protruding from the top of his head and a smaller upturned horn jutting up from his nose. The crest that frames his head is also left bare white plastic, which I’ll confess looks a little cheap, but I suppose it does match the coloring in the cartoon appearance. There’s no articulation in the neck, but the jaw does open, so that’s cool!

So, the dino mode gets my seal of approval, however, I will say that the engineering on this toy is a lot more complex than what I was expecting. As a rule, I always thought the original Dinobot toy transformations didn’t need to be messed with too much to make modern updates. The Studio Series Grimlock more or less holds that to be true. But Hasbro did some crazy stuff here, especially with Slag’s torso. I found it to be a bit frustrating to get him into dino mode the first time, and even after a few more tries it feels a bit more fiddly than it needed to be. Some might argue that a Leader Class should have complex engineering to justify the price, but here it was just a pain to get everything to lock together correctly, especially when compared to Studio Series Grimlock.

And speaking of which, here are the two Studio Series Dinobots together in their alt modes. With that said… on to the robot mode! In terms of scale and styling, I think they look amazing together! And just in case you want to see how much bigger Slug got than when we last saw him…

My opinion on the Power of the Primes Dinobots remains mostly unchanged. These were great looking figures, but woefully undersized. The PotP Dinos were especially small for Deluxe Class toys, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Leader Class is the only way to go for Dinobots! Now let’s check out Slag’s robot mode!

Well, there sure is a lot to love here, but I also have a few nitpicks so let me get them out of the way first. The dino mode’s hind legs would be expected to land on the outside of the robot legs, but here, they fold in to fill in the leg cavities and give Slag a cleaner look. I sure can respect that, but… I think that by taking the legs off the outside and concealing them, it makes his legs look a little scrawny compared to his upper body bulk. Is it a deal-breaker for me? Nah. It is however, my only real gripe with this robot mode. Indeed, I’m impressed by how polished the back looks, with the “wings” and the tail tucked in. It’s just a great looking figure all around.

The portrait is nicely done as well, with a sharp sculpt. It’s worth mentioning here that I love the red plastic used for the head and chest. It’s so bright and vibrant. It also contrasts beautifully with those big blue eyes. The chest piece is obviously faked out, as it’s not really the lower jaw of the dino head, but I think that was the right way to go here and it looks great.

Like Grimlock, Slag comes with a gun but no sword. Yeah, that sucks. The gun is a decent sculpt, but I wish it was cast in black plastic instead of the white. And while on the subject, I really would have loved to get an homage to the missile launcher that came with the original figure. Where did all the plastic they saved from not including a sword or missile launcher go?

It went to this piece of crap… Daniel Witwicky in his Exo-Suit. This is extremely similar to the Wheelie figure that came with Studio Series Grimlock. And while I wasn’t terribly impressed with that Wheelie, I find this inclusion to be a total misfire. There’s articulation at the shoulders and hips, but he’s stuck in a squatting position, as the figure is mainly intended to just sit on top Slag’s dino mode. I think what I hate most about this figure is that they couldn’t even give him a head sculpt or a sticker showing a face inside the open helmet, but nope… we just got a blank, featureless dome.

It continues to baffle me that Takara didn’t continue on with the Masterpiece Dinobots, especially with how many different releases they got out of Grimlock. But with a team of MP Dinos being only a pipe dream, Hasbro’s Leader Class offerings are the next best thing to me. Slag puts us at two Dinobots down and I really hope Hasbro keeps this train rolling. Indeed, I’m a little disappointed we haven’t seen a teaser of the next one yet. I’m rooting for Sludge, because if they do cut this run short, I want to make sure we at least get the original three. And since I can’t imagine what lame mini figure they would include with Sludge, how about you just make good on the missing swords instead, eh Hasbro?

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.