Transformers (Robot Enhanced Design Series): Megatron by Hasbro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transformers Earthrise: Sunstreaker by Hasbro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transformers Earthrise: Runamuck by Hasbro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transformers Earthrise: Smokescreen and Bluestreak by Hasbro

When Hasbro transitioned from the Cybertron modes of Siege to the Earth modes of Earthrise, I didn’t expect we’d be getting redos of a lot of the same characters. And yet, here we are! It was just back in May that I reviewed the Siege versions of these fellas, and here we are checking out their Earth modes. Am I complaining? Nah. Let’s check out some Datsuns!

The Siege versions of Smokescreen and Bluestreak released as exclusives and each in special packaging. This pair features the normal packages, but Bluestreak was a Walgreens Exclusive, whereas I picked up Smokescreen off of Amazon. They come in the always fantastic Earthrise Deluxe window boxes, with the usual bitchin’ character art. They are packaged in their robot modes, but I’ll start with the alt modes.

Here’s Bluestreak and no, these guys aren’t really Datsuns, but close enough for me. Indeed, this is a great looking little sportscar with a decidedly vintage vibe. Bluestreak retains the same gray and black deco as his previous alt mode, with the black portions having more of a matte finish this time around, and a much bolder Autobot insignia stamped on his hood. He’s got translucent windows and head lamps, a raised hood, a low spoiler, quad exhaust, and silver mag wheels. The panels on mine don’t lock together quite as seamlessly as I would like, but that might be user error. Although, I did give him a good once over to make sure everything looked like it was where it belonged.

Here’s a quick look at the Cybertron and Earth modes together, and I really dig the evolution at work here. The Earthrise version has basically grown a cabin for its human driver and passenger and the wheels have gotten a bit smaller. The Cybertron version actually looks like a concept car that grew out of the 80’s Datsun design and I can dig that!

Just like Siege Streak, the Earthrise version comes with three weapons: A rifle and two shoulder cannons. The shoulder cannons can mount into the hood and the rifle can mount on the roof. These are all fresh sculpts with the shoulder cannons being a lot smaller than what we saw for Siege, while the rifle is a lot closer to Bluestreak’s original G1 weapon. The tabs used for the shoulder cannon are the same for both figures, so you can mix and match if you like.

Transforming these guys is very similar, but there are some key differences in the robot modes. I liked Siege Bluestreak’s bot mode well enough, but the Earthrise version tweaks it to near perfection. Obviously the chest is completely different, as it’s formed from the front of the car. But to me the biggest improvement is in the legs. Earthrise Streak’s legs look better filled out and the lower legs and feet are better defined. Besides the more familiar aesthetics of the Earth mode, I just think this robot looks much more polished and proportioned. I absolutely love it! From the deco standpoint, there isn’t a huge difference. You still get the black and gray from the car mode with some red added in the lower legs and elbows. Earthrise Streak’s lower legs are now all gray, as are his shoulders, and there’s more black in his chest.

I was surprised to see a brand new head sculpt here, and while it’s excellent, I think any question of which one is better will come down to a matter of personal preference. Siege Streak’s “helmet” is more detailed and his “wings” are more pronounced. If I had to pick one, I think I’d side with the Earthrise head, just because it’s more stylized. But either way, they’re both fantastic. If you can’t tell, I really dig this figure a lot. My only real gripe centers around the inner panels on his lower legs. These flip down to fill in the legs a bit, and one of these refuses to stay on when I’m transforming him. Maybe not a big deal, and to be fair I could remove both and not really effect the figure much, but worth mentioning nonetheless. Let’s move on to Smokescreen!

As expected, Smokescreen is mostly a repaint with the major difference of the car mode being the apron on the front. While I’m fine with Bluestreak’s colors, Smokescreen’s red, white and blue deco really brings this excellent auto mode to life. The colors are vibrant, and while I would have preferred more of a glossy finish on both of these vehicles, I have to admit there’s something about the rich, satin finish on Smokescreen that really works for me. The wheels are less flashy here, as they are all black with just the blue clips showing, but otherwise I just love everything about this sportscar. The paint lines are clean, he’s got a bold Autobot emblem stamped on his hood and the racing numbers “80” on either door. The windows are now tinted, as are his head lamps.

And here are some comparison shots of the Siege and Earthrise modes. The deco is pretty damn close, with the Earthrise version adding some red to the roof, the white side stripes straightening out, and the small panel of Cybertronian lettering on the Siege mode giving way to the larger Earth digits on the doors.

Smokescreen comes with the same rifle and shoulder cannons as Bluestreak, only this time they are molded in blue plastic, and once again these can be attached to the car mode to weaponize it. They can also be swapped out with the Siege weapons if you like.

Smokescreen’s transformation is identical to Bluestreak’s, although I don’t have the same problem with the leg panel popping off. The flashy deco really serves to make Smokescreen stand out over his Datsun Bro, as does the addition of the apron on the chest. I can’t stress enough how impressed I am with the way these robot modes turned out. And yet the transformations are so simple and intuitive. It makes me wonder why Hasbro wasn’t able to do this back when they did the Datsuns in the Classics line. The improvement is like night and day.

And here’s a look at Smokescreen’s new noggin, which is a huge departure from what we got with Siege. The face is now white and all smoothed over, with the “helmet” also going for a simpler look. The new portrait really embraces Smokescreen’s look in the old Sunbow cartoon. I also dig the green eyes!

At first I wasn’t all that keen on re-buying these Autobots again so soon, but now that I have them in hand, I’m glad I did because it’s hard to imagine we’ll ever get better versions of Smokescreen and Bluestreak in a Deluxe Class figure. What’s more, I’m actually happy to have them represented in both the Siege and Earthrise lines. How often do we get to display the Cybertron and Earth modes of a Transformer beside each other in what is more or less the same line and the sane continuity! So where’s Prowl? Well, he just hit my doorstep yesterday as part of an Amazon Exclusive two-pack with Ironhide. And I should get around to checking that out next week!

Transformers Earthrise: Grapple by Hasbro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transformers Earthrise: Quintesson Judge by Hasbro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transformers Siege: Mirage by Hasbro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transformers Earthrise: Optimus Prime and Trailer by Hasbro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transformers “Earthrise:” Cliffjumper by Hasbro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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