Transformers Siege: Refraktor by Hasbro

It’s impossible for me to explain why I was so obsessed with Reflector in the old Transformers cartoon. Maybe it was because his appearances were a bit rare. Maybe it was because he wasn’t readily available as a toy. I’m not even sure I was aware at that age that he was a mail-away figure in the US. It’s also possible that I was fascinated by his very nature of being three robots referred to as one, not to mention the first team of robots that could merge into a single alt form. I often wondered about how that worked, and what a cool alien/sci-fi concept it was. But in the end, it was probably because there were so few Decepticons in the early days, and Reflector bolstered their numbers by three. And sometimes even more than that, thanks to some animation gaffs.

And that brings us to Refraktor! A figure that is just as interesting as his predecessor. Hasbro released him as a single character with its own alt mode, but advertised on the back that you could buy two more if you wanted to make use of their camera mode. Also, I’ll point out now that I’m going to be calling him Reflector during this review, because if I try to call him Refraktor, I’m probably just going to mess it up half the time anyway. Let’s get his bullshit alt mode out of the way first!

I think this is supposed to be a spaceship, and to be fair it isn’t all that bad. It gives me a little bit of a Sweeps vibe, especially since I have three of them. The Energon Sharkticon also comes to mind, since I used to army build the hell out of those. But to be honest, it strikes me more as a seafaring gunship. Maybe even a hydrofoil, since the landing gear looks like a set of skis. In the end, I don’t hate it, and it’s kind of cool to give these guys something a little more practical to transform into. Especially in a line called Siege. And they do look kind of cool in battle formation. Let’s just move on to the robot mode!

One of the things that struck me most about Reflector in the old G1 days was that he was one of the few Decepticons that didn’t advertise his alt mode with a lot of kibble. It was genuinely tough to figure out what the hell he turned into. It also made him look like a generic rank-and-file Decepticon warrior, which was pretty appealing too. I think Hasbro did a wonderful job with this update. It continues the Siege aesthetic of infusing the sculpt with loads of detail. That’s especially the case here in the arms and behind the clear chest panel. The coloring is pretty damn great too. Purple is always a good choice for Decepticons and it mixes well with the bare grey plastic. You also get some snazzy silver paint hits on the leg panels, feet, and the frame of his chest panel. A little splash of red on the forearms and knees, and a Decepticon emblem on the left shoulder rounds out the deco quite nicely.

From behind, Reflector doesn’t look nearly as polished. There are plenty of hollow compartments and some exposed screw-heads. But at least there isn’t a lot of kibble. Even the skids from his alt mode fold neatly into his leg compartments. There is a way to help spruce up his back view, but I’ll come back to that in a bit.

The head sculpt is extremely faithful to what I remember from the Sunbow animated version. He has the same rounded “helmet,” narrow eyes and broad mouth. The silver paint on the face looks especially good, as does the red used for the eyes, which are pretty much flawless. No question, Hasbro has been killing it with their portraits in this line, and Reflector here is no different.

The one real difference between the three robots in the cartoon was the aperture being present in one and not the other two. Here that’s easily achieved by pulling it off. Yeah, it leaves a peg hole there, but I’m OK with that. I’m sure some Third-Party company will release a bag of plugs to cover these up and charge $20 for them. No, seriously, nobody do that. I will probably be the one dumb enough to buy them.

Reflector relies heavily on two rather large pieces for his alt modes. The large cannon simply turns into a gun for his robot mode, while the other can be used as a shield. I dig both of these accessories a lot. The gun is big and beefy and has a rather distinctive low-slung armor plate. The shield is rounded and has a notch out of the top that reminds me of a riot shield. The shield piece can also be pegged onto the back, but it isn’t meant to be, which means it can fall out pretty easily. I think this is the biggest shame about the figure design, as it looks really good on the back, gets it out of the way when not being used as a shield, and it would have been really easy for Hasbro to have seen this opportunity and make it work. When I display these guys in robot mode, I will likely have two with the guns and shields and one with just the gun. Of course all of these pieces can also be combined together for the camera mode, so let’s check that out.

The camera mode is achieved by transforming each of the figures into the same folded up block and then sticking them together so that the middle one faces front. Next the three shields combine together to form the lens and the three guns combine to form the tripod, which then attaches to the camera using one of the aperture pieces. It’s very clever and overall it looks pretty good, but it’s not nearly as detailed a camera as the old G1 toy. And I’m totally OK with that, because the sacrifices were made to allow each of the bots that form it to look identical. Maybe Hasbro could have tossed in a few extra pieces to tack on and make it more convincing as a camera, but I’m totally fine with it the way it is. Also, it’s roughly the right size to give to one of the Titans like Metroplex or Fort Maximus, but really too big for any of the smaller bots.

Never in a million years did I ever think Hasbro would revisit these guys. Hell, even the first time the early pictures of him, I didn’t think the camera mode was going to be ab option. As a result, I can’t  tell you how many times I almost pulled the trigger on one of the many third-party Reflectors on the market. In the end, I’m glad I didn’t, because Hasbro’s Deluxe Class treatment scratches that itch perfectly, and for a lot less money. These guys were a bit hard to find at first, because most everyone was looking to grab three of them, but I was eventually able to get all three online for a couple of bucks under retail, and that ain’t too shabby. They’re a great little team, and I think they look fantastic when displayed with the Siege Decepticons.

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Transformers Siege: Soundwave by Hasbro

I probably should be looking at something other than a Transformer this week, since I’m getting way behind on NECA and Star Wars stuff, but I got caught up purchasing all the Transformers: Siege releases last week and because I’m digging this line so much, I was really jonesing to open another. Soundwave remains one of my favorite characters, and is always a good choice, so let’s go with him.

The Decepticons are really owning the Voyager Class in this line, with Megatron, Soundwave, and Starscream up against lonely Optimus Prime. Then again, the Autobots are all but monopolizing the Deluxes, and I guess that works for me. I almost always judge a new Transformers line by how well they do the Decepticon High Command. They did a nice job with Megatron, so needless to say, I am hoping for good things out of Soundwave. Let’s start with his alt mode. For several lines now (Titans Return being the exception), Soundwave has had this weird thing going on, where Hasbro tries to salvage his tape-cassette gimmick while not having him actually turn into a tape deck. I kind of get that. Deploying mini Decepticon warriors is a huge part of what makes him so unique and before the whole retro-80’s craze, a lot of kids probably couldn’t identify with a cassette player as a toy. And so this time around, Hasbro gave Soundwave the alt mode of a Cybertronian space cruiser.

And as far as bullshit, made-up alt modes go, I honestly don’t think this one is all that bad. And yes, I realize I’m in the minority here, because I’ve seen plenty of shade thrown at this toy for this very reason. Truth be told, I kind of dig this chunky design. It kind of reminds me of some of the old Wing Commander designs, and that ain’t a bad thing. It also actually takes some engineering to get between robot mode and this alt mode. Indeed, the only thing about this mode that I don’t like is the giant tape door on the back.

The coloring and finish are both great. You get a pretty typical Soundwave-y deco with a lot of deep blue and gray. The weathering is nicely done and I think it contributes well to making this look like a well-used spaceship. Additional paint hits like the red trim on the weapon pods and the silver, yellow, and red panels add to the visual appeal. And that’s really all I have to say about this thing. I’m surprised at how much I dig it, but I’m really here for the robot mode, so let’s jump right into that.

In his bot mode, Soundwave emits waves of pure G1 goodness. I absolutely adore this figure. I mean, nothing is ever going to live up to the Masterpiece version, but for a retail release, this is just so damn good. All the tape deck features are here, for no reason at all, like the buttons on his pelvis and the giant tape door in his chest. He even has his battery shoulder cannon. Does any of this make sense? Nope. Do I care. Also, nope. But besides being very traditional looking, Soundwave is also distinctively Siege. Hasbro has taken the basic G1 Soundwave design and dipped it into the hyper-detailed look of Siege, with a crazy number of panel lines and other little details pressed into the sculpt, coupled with the weathered paintwork and the scratches all over the tape door. He looks fantastic.

Soundwave looks pretty damn good from the back as well. His legs are filled out, and with the exception of the backpack, there’s nothing terribly out of place here. And while that backpack isn’t really a traditional Soundwave feature, I think it looks great. Plus, if you fold open the backpack you can see that Hasbro still sculpted in a reference to the belt clip that was on the original toy. Pretty cool! There’s some kibble under the forearms, but it’s not too obtrusive, and you can even fold them out as retractable blasters.

The rest of the deco matches what we saw in the spaceship mode, so there aren’t really any surprises there. Nice touches include the colored panels just below his knees, and the thin red stripes around his wrists. The pelvic buttons are painted silver, and his tape door features a gold border. I’ve already mentioned the abrasions painted onto the tape door, and while I wasn’t sure how I would feel about those when I got the figure in hand, I can’t deny they’re well done, as is the weathering on the lower legs. Granted, if you’re looking for clean bots, these figures aren’t for you, but I have really grown to love the battle-worn flavor of this line.

I have no complaints about the head sculpt. The detail here is really nice, especially the recessed vents on the lower half of his “helmet.” It’s all very sharp for a head this small. Some people are apt to complain about the choice to go with the toy accurate yellow visor. Me? I prefer the yellow visor, but it wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker if they had gone with red. Either way, just look at that glorious light-piping. The visor catches the light easily and really brings the portrait to life.

Not only does Soundwave’s tape door spring open at the push of a button, but they also sculpted a finger on his right hand especially to push the button. Wonderful! He doesn’t come with any tapes, but Hasbro has since released Laserbeak and Ravage as Micromasters, which are compatible. I was hoping to squeeze them into today’s review, but I went a little long, so I’ll hopefully be able to circle back to them next week if time permits.

He does, however come with two weapons. Well, three if you count the removable shoulder cannon. The first handgun is his other battery rifle, which is a pitch-perfect match for the original G1 weapon. The beam emitter even retracts into the battery portion, and as we saw, it’s used for the spaceship mode.

The other weapon is a simple folding gun. It can be used to turn both of Soundwave’s battery weapons into one long gun. Otherwise, it’s nothing special and doesn’t really feel like it belongs to him, so I’ll likely be giving it away to another lucky bot.

I passed on the Titan Returns Leader Class Soundwave, because it was just way too similar to Blaster, so this is the first regular retail release of Soundwave in a while that I can say I really love. I get it, some people are not going to like this alt mode, but I was surprised at how little it bothered me. And once I get those Micromaster tapes opened up next week, Soundwave will really feel complete!

Transformers Siege: Cog by Hasbro

I’m still working out getting back on a regular posting schedule, but for now I’m just carving out what time I have to work on reviews and tossing them up when they’re ready. Things will likely be sporadic for a while, but taking the time to do this blog every couple of days is one of the few things keeping me going these days, even if it’s just a little piece of a review each time. Today, I’m checking out one last figure from Siege’s first wave of Deluxes, so I can eventually start digging into the second wave. And Cog here is definitely the odd man out in the assortment.

As an homage to Fortress Maximus’ parts-forming companion figure, Hasbro really took the idea of Cog and ran with it. He’s not your traditional transformer, he’s a Weaponizer! And that means he can be broken down into various add on pieces for other Transformers. In theory it’s a pretty cool idea, even if I can’t noodle out how that would work from Cog’s point of view, as a sentient robot. And yes, in addition to being weapon and armor parts, he also has some more traditional alt modes, but before we get to that, let’s go against convention and start with his robot mode.

G1 Cog was an extremely basic figure, even for a vintage Transformer. This new version takes his general design and injects it with a ton of detail, more coloring, and obviously better articulation. The result is a fantastic looking figure that represents such an extreme makeover with really just the general silhouette as the only thing connecting the two together. This Cog still has the towers on each side of his head, capped off with little wheels. The extended gun shoulders are more defined, and he has the addition of integral arm guns protruding from his wrists. One of the things I dig the most about Cog is how puzzling his alt mode kibble can be. He’s obviously got wheels and some treads, but good luck guessing what he turns into. And we’ll see why in a bit.

From behind, Cog’s aesthetics do break down quite a bit. He looks pretty hollow and unfinished, but the view from the front more than makes up for it. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I love his ankle rockers. This dude can take some pretty wide stances and still keep his big robot feets planted firmly on the ground. I love it. The coloring here is also fantastic. The deco takes the blue and gray from the original figure and cranks it all the way up. You get some nice deep blue with black and bright red accents, and that gorgeous silver paint that has been turning up on Transformers from time to time. He also sports a crisp Autobot emblem on his right shoulder pylon. All in all, this deco does a great job matching with the coloring on the recent Titan Class Fortress Maximus.

The head sculpt garners a lot of love as well. He’s got a sharply defined “helmet” and a pretty dominant mouth plate with a recessed silver visor. From a practical perspective, those towers are a mixed bag. They look cool and probably do a good job of keeping Cog from getting his head knocked off, but the hit he takes to his peripheral vision has got to be a bitch.

Cog comes with a set of twin guns, which are molded in black plastic, feature great designs, and sport some nice detail. My only complaint here is that the peg hole on my figure’s right hand seems to be a little too big and the gun fits in there very loosely. OK, let’s move on to his alt modes.

Cog’s first alt mode is this… well, whatever it’s supposed to be. A Cybertronian rolling death machine? Sure, why not. This is also one of the simplest transformations I’ve seen in a Deluxe Class figure in a long time. You just fold the head back, fold the arms back, and lay him down on his back. That’s it, you’re done! Now, with everything else going on with this figure, I’m not going to come down too hard on this alt mode. It’s OK and I’m often willing to give Cybertron modes a lot of leeway. Of course, many collectors will want something more like G1 Cog’s dual alt modes, and that’s possible here as well…

Here we have two little attack vehicles, and I actually dig these more than his official single alt mode. While they look like they’re just the bigger vehicle pulled apart, there’s actually a little more to it than that. Not much, but a little. Otherwise, they’re perfectly serviceable Cybertronian vehicles packing some decent firepower. And from a size standpoint, they’re each not that much smaller than your average Deluxe Class alt mode. Not bad at all!

The all blue half-track is my least favorite of the two. It’s not bad, but it’s not very stable because the back half doesn’t lock together. You do get a few options on where to put the guns, and there’s extra peg holes for more weapons if you really want to load him up.

This one is my favorite of the two. I think the deco is just a lot more interesting and it’s a much more stable vehicle. Also, those guns on the top look like they can do some pretty good damage. But we’re still not done yet! Let’s see how Cog’s Weaponizer element works, and I’ll bring in Sideswipe to help demonstrate…

Oh boy! Like the Buffalo, we use all the parts of the Weaponizer and this is the “official” pairing between Cog and Sideswipe. I’m not keen on a lot of it. The shoulder armor piece and the larger feet just look ungainly and stupid, in my opinion. I do, however dig those shoulder cannons.

Yeah, just giving Sideswipe the shoulder cannons and the twin guns is definitely cool. I dig this look a lot. There are a whole lot of other things you can do with the parts, a lot of which are pretty goofy looking. Let’s get freaky…

As an adult collector, I can’t really get behind too many of these, but if I were a kid, I would have been all over this shit. It’s just fun taking parts and mixing them up and seeing what you can come up with and the play value here is really through the roof. Especially if you start tossing in the little Battle Masters, the effect parts, and a child’s imagination. After all, when I was a kid playing with stuff like this, I was more concerned with having fun, than building things that made sense or looked aesthetically pleasing.

I will say, some of the stuff works great on Optimus Prime as well.

When I find myself saying that this is my least favorite Deluxe in the first wave, that’s really a testament to how great this assortment is. Because Cog is a pretty damn fine figure. He’s got a great looking robot mode, some fairly decent alt modes, and a Weaponizer mode that may not really be my cup of tea, but introduces an undeniably clever new play pattern to the world of Transformers. With all that going on, I’m surprised this guy turned out so good. And after spending some time with him, I’m officially excited to get my hands on Sixgun from the second wave. Plus, it feels great to finally have a Cog to go with my Fortress Maximus.

Transformers Siege: Megatron by Hasbro

I’m hanging on by a thread this week and I really didn’t think I was going to make it here today. But talking toys is like a soothing balm for all that ails me and so here I am, not at my best, but here nonetheless! Because the show must go on! Anywho… It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been back to look at the Transformers Siege line, and that just won’t do! So let’s go ahead and wrap up this week by opening Voyager Class Megatron! I think this is going to be an interesting ride!

I’ve said my piece about this packaging when I looked at Optimus Prime, so I won’t go on about it all again now. Suffice it to say, I dig it a lot. It’s evolved quite nicely since this style was introduced way back when for The Last Knight figures. Megatron comes in a collector friendly window box with some absolutely bitchin’ character art on the angled side panel, so what’s not to like? The imperious leader of the Decepticons comes packaged in his robot mode, but we’re going to start with his alt mode!

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone that the alt mode is a futuristic tank. Let me go off the rails for a moment and say that while the G1 version of Megatron’s robot mode will likely always be my favorite, I’ve never been a fan of the gun mode. Even as a kid, I thought it made for a crummy toy, and as for the cartoon, it always seemed a little emasculating for the mighty Decepticon leader to shrink down and be wielded by his subordinates like a common implement. The idea of Megs turning into a tank just works better on so many levels. So naturally, one of my favorite things Hasbro has ever done was find a way to make the G1 Megs robot mode work with a tank mode. And that’s probably why the Combiner Wars Leader Class Megatron (along with the help of DX9) remains my favorite version of the character to this day. Of course, I was happy to see them trying it again, this time at the more versatile Voyager Class size. OK, enough of that, on to the tank!

The Transformers designers sure love their H-type tank designs and this alt mode continues to prove that. As a result this tank looks like a bit like a cousin of Hardhead’s alt mode. This mobile gun platform is propelled by four sets of treaded pylons with wheels concealed beneath them to help it roll into the heat of battle. The body of the tank itself is pretty small, taking up slightly less volume than the copula, which is bisected by the massive cannon barrel. The gun itself cannot elevate, but the copula is capable of rotating left and right, adding a little bit of play and display value.

But make no mistake, this is not a sexy tank. It’s not even a photogenic tank. It is an ugly machine of war and that fits Megatron just fine. The surfaces are littered with seams and joints and hinges. There are some panel lines and sculpted hatches, vents, and compartments, but to me it all gets lost in a sort of jumbled mess, and surprisingly I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. As for the deco, it’s mostly comprised of gray and black plastic, with a little red, silver and yellow here and there. The cannon itself is easily the best aspect of this mode. It’s intricately detailed with silver and red paint hits to make it stand out. And surprisingly, the business end of the gun itself is not formed by Megs’ familiar fusion blaster, which makes for a nice surprise and a more distinctive design. Instead, it’s a combination of the fusion cannon in the back and a weird sword-gun weapon in the front, which is detached for transformation. All in all, this mode isn’t going to win any awards for aesthetics or ingenuity of design, but it works as a purely functional killing machine. And that’s a totally appropriate alt mode for Megatron. So how about that robot mode?

Well, there’s no doubt about it, this is G1 Megatron! Hasbro clearly designed this figure with the robot mode as a priority and then worked backwards. Sure, there are some bits of telltale kibble, and I’ll get to that in a bit, but so much of the homage is preserved that I’m fine overlooking the compromises that had to be made. Indeed, there are actually two pieces on the tops of his shoulders designed to fold back solely to mimic the hammer kibble from the original toy’s Walther PPK alt mode. Particular attention has been spent in designing the torso to resemble the Sunbow animation model and I absolutely love it. It’s basically the original toy torso, only boxier, beefier, and better proportioned. A few nitpicks? I wish the forearms filled in and the wrists would pivot, but those are some pretty small quibbles.

From the back, he looks nothing like Megatron, and that’s all because of his tank treads. Two of them fold up onto his back to form a fairly neat and tidy, albeit large, backpack. The lower legs, which aren’t too dissimilar from the G1 design when viewed from the front, really break down when viewed from the back, and those heel spurs don’t help either. So, yeah, the nearly pitch perfect homage does fall apart when the figure isn’t viewed from the front. And none of that really bothers me. What does bother me a lot is the choice to leave so much of the figure as just bare gray plastic. I thought it looked terrible when I first saw it, and while it’s growing on me a little, I still think it’s the deco, or lack thereof, is the figure’s biggest drawback. I can’t help but think how good this guy would have looked with the same sumptuous silver paint that Hasbro gave Combiner Wars Megatron. I also think that there’s a criminal lack of paint on his lower torso. It just looks terribly unfinished.

While the homage breaks down from the back, and the coloring is a sticking point with me, the portrait wins back plenty of points. I have to say, old bucket head never looked better. The “helmet” is perfect, the scowl on his face and red down-turned narrow eyes make him look tougher than a week-old Energon Cube. The face is painted silver, making it look superb in contrast to all that dull gray plastic. Megsy has a smattering of silver paint weathering splashed across his chest and arms, and a Decepticon logo printed on his chest.

Also winning back a lot of points is the nearly perfect fusion cannon. So many modern Megatron figures can’t seem to get this right, and yet I consider it crucial to any G1 homage. It was one of those “close, but no cigar” failings of the Combiner Wars Megatron that had to be fixed by a third-party company, and even that wasn’t a perfect fix. This one looks great and it’s positioned on the outer arm, to allow for really good poses and aiming. Hell, you can even peg it onto either arm, but we all know that the right arm is where it belongs, eh?

Megatron also comes with the previously mentioned combination rifle-sword weapon, which forms the front half of the tank mode’s main cannon. This piece can be discarded after transformation, or it can be retained as a weapon. I honestly didn’t think I’d have any use for it, as it’s not really something that I would expect Megatron to carry around. It is, however, surprisingly fun and versatile. I doubt I’ll display Megatron with it in robot mode, but it may wind up going to one of my other Decepticons.

In the end, this review has been quite the roller-coaster of opinion. I want to love this figure more than I do, and when I really dig deep, I realize that the only real sticking point for me is the coloring. I don’t mind the slab of tank kibble on his back, and I love just about everything else about the way the robot mode looks. This figure just feels like a great design with a piss-poor paint job. If Hasbro or Takara released this figure with a premium paint job like Combiner Wars Megsy had, I’d happily fork over the money to buy him again. As it is, the previous Leader Class Megatron with DX9 enhancements will remain my favorite. Nonetheless, I can’t deny this Megatron has everything else going for him, and the Siege versions of Megatron and Optimus Prime are easily the best pairing of these two mortal foes that we’ve had in a long time, if not ever.

Transformers Siege: Optimus Prime by Hasbro

If the toy aisles in my area are any indication, Siege is selling like gangbusters. In one case last week, they were stocking the shelves when I put the last Deluxe I needed in my cart and did my other shopping before deciding to go back and get Optimus and Megatron, which were being unpacked. In the span of about 10 minutes they were both gone. Luckily, I got another crack at them a few days later and this time I jumped on them. I feel like getting the Leader Class figures is going to be a knock-down fight.

Prime is my first Voyager Class figure in this bunch, but the packaging is identical in style to the Deluxes. You get a collector friendly box with some killer artwork. I love how Hasbro evolved this packaging from when we first saw the Transformers name in red running up the side of the package to now. If Hasbro ever puts out an artbook featuring the character art from Siege, Titan Returns, and Power of the Primes, I’d throw down some money for it. But enough about the box, let’s get to the toy. Prime is packaged in his robot mode, but we’ll start with his alt mode.

The alt mode is a good old-fashioned red truck cab, which is certainly evocative of Prime’s G1 mode, but with a slight futuristic twist. It’s not the best and most polished cab mode we’ve seen on Optimus, but it’s not too shabby either. And this is clearly a case where Hasbro made some sacrifices in the alt mode to assist the aesthetics of the robot mode. Whether it was a good trade off, we’ll see in a bit (psst… IT IS!!). The biggest sacrifice is the extended roof, which hangs over the windshields. It took me a little getting used to, but I don’t think it looks bad, just kind of strange and different. The sides of the truck definitely show seams and some hinges, and probably the biggest eyesore is the use of silver paint for the side windows, while the rest are translucent blue. Speaking of which, I would have liked the grill to be painted silver, rather than using the same translucent plastic for the windows. And you’ll no doubt note that the smokestacks are shortened to keep kids from jamming them into their eyes after they’ve finished off a snack of Tide Pods. That may sound like I have a lot of beefs with this little truck, but I really don’t.

Nope, if I sound like I’m down on this cab, I should point out that there’s a lot I love here too. The circuit-like pattern that’s etched into the plastic behind the windows makes for a really cool effect, as does the sculpted headlamps behind those plastic pieces. I also really dig the “headlamps” to the lower right and left of the front bumper, because I have no other choice to believe that these are actually mini-guns because of the way they’re sculpted. Those will also come into play with the robot mode. The deco is also mighty purdy, with the familiar red and blue mingling with the gray, silver, and white to make a familiar and eye-pleasing combination. And yes, he has some of that brushed on weathering, which has been like a trademark for this line. Finally, Prime’s alt mode can store his axe as a sort of hitch, and if you’re a fan of big goofy guns on your alt modes (I’m not!), there are plenty of peg holes to load Prime up with some weaponry.

The transformation into this mode is pretty complex, considering how simple the Deluxe figures in this line have been, but I was able to get him through it the first time without consulting instructions, and I ain’t no genius, so I’m it’s got to be fairly intuitive. And there’s some truly clever stuff going on to put a smile on my face, even if the final steps require a lot of stuff moving almost simultaneously into place. But in the end, everything locks together perfectly for a solid cab and a pretty fun little toy. So how’s the robot mode look?

What’s the word I’m looking for? WOW? Yup, that’s it. I think it’s safe to say that, at least for me, this is the best looking Voyager Class G1-styled Prime Hasbro has ever done. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s about as perfect as we can expect to see in this size and price range. From head on, I’ve got precious little to nitpick here. He’s beautifully proportioned, and even hits on some of the cool points of Masterpiece Prime, including the vents on the lower legs, and does a pretty decent job of either concealing or obscuring the wheels. I dig that they sculpted the top of the truck cab for his robot mode, even though you don’t see it in the alt mode. The etching on the windshields looks great in his robot mode, and by faking out the cab details on the lower torso, they were able to keep it stylized for the robot mode. Thankfully, that includes swapping out the translucent blue grill with a proper silver one. The shorter stacks on the shoulders are still a bit of a bummer, but it’s not nearly enough to dampen what is an otherwise amazing looking robot.

From the back, things are not quite as clean as I would like in the lower legs, but they’re OK and the designers at least made an effort to close them up so they aren’t completely hollow. Prime does feature a big slab-o-back, which isn’t ideal, but I’m actually thinking that it could be a kind of jetpack, especially with the translucent blue plastic pieces on the bottom looking like thrust emitters. You can also use the peg holes to store his weapons on his back, but that just adds to the bulk.

As for the deco, it’s pretty much identical to what we saw in his alt mode. Prime features all his classic colors: Red, blue, and gray, with some white and yellow, and silver accents. He also features the weathered paint applications that have been present in the Deluxe Class figures. I think these look good, but I get that some collectors aren’t digging them. Maybe Hasbro will put a clean version out at some point down the road. After all, a mold this good can’t possibly only be issued once.

Easily my biggest, and really only, gripe about this figure is the kibble on the underarms, and it isn’t nearly as bad as the Classics version of Prime we got a while back. It’s funny, but I thought that figure was a work of art when it came out, but in retrospect it hasn’t aged all that gracefully. As for this Prime’s arm kibble, I’m actually enjoying the fact that these pieces can be flipped around to form integral mini-guns.

The head sculpt is right on point as well. It’s very traditional with just enough styled flare. The “helmet” is cast in blue plastic, the eyes are painted blue, and the silver paint used for his mouth plate and crest is sharp and clean. Again, I really appreciate that the sculpted the yellow roof lights, even though you don’t see them at all in his cab mode.

Prime comes with two weapons, both of which we glimpsed in the alt mode shots. The first is his battle axe, and I’ll confess I’m not terribly fond of this piece. It’s not all that convincing as an axe and I’ve never understood why Hasbro keeps giving Prime axes anyway. Is it because he had an energy axe in that one fight with Megatron in the Sunbow cartoon? Maybe. Either way, this is a piece that’s going to get tossed into the Tote of Forgotten Accessories.

Fortunately Prime also comes with his very familiar rifle. This baby is cast in black plastic and he can hold it in either hand. Unfortunately, the figure’s articulation doesn’t really allow him to cross it over his chest and rest it in his other hand all that well, but you can fake it out to make it look pretty good.

Before wrapping up, here are some quick comparison shots of Prime with his two Deluxe Autobot Warriors. His cab mode is pretty small when compared to Sideswipe and Hound’s vehicle modes, but he sure makes up for that when he transforms into robot mode. And I’d say the scale here works pretty well. Ideally, I’d like my regular Autobots to be a little closer to Prime’s shoulders, but I’m not going to gripe about it. I think they look great together.

All in all, I think this is an incredible effort on Hasbro’s part and easily my favorite Voyager Class Prime up to this point. It features some great engineering, a transformation that is clever but not too fiddly and complex, and best of all it just delivers unbelievably solid looking alt and robot modes. He’s also so much fun to play around with that I have a feeling he’ll be inhabiting my desk for a long time before he migrates over to my Transformers display. Yeah, at $29.99, he’s a little pricey for a figure this size, but I still think he’s well worth it. Indeed, if Hasbro is smart, they’ll cook up a trailer for this guy and re-release him sometime down the road as part of a bigger and more complete set, because this mold definitely deserves a full-on trailer, Teletran-1, and Roller treatment.

Transformers Siege: Sideswipe by Hasbro

Slowly but surely I’m working my way through the first wave of Deluxe figures from the new Siege: War for Cybertron. So far this assortment has delivered on the best Hound figure we’ve had in ages, and a pretty sweet update to the Duocon, Flywheels so at this point, the wave can do no wrong. Can they work the same magic for the classic Class of 84 Autobot Sideswipe? Well if opinion on the social medias is any indication, I think they can!

Here’s another look at the packaging as Hasbro does away with the card and bubble in favor of a collector friendly window box. I love these boxes and the character art looks fantastic. It’s just too bad that I don’t have the space to keep them. Sideswipe comes packaged in his robot mode, but we’re going to jump in to his alt mode first!

Whereas Hound’s felt like a bulked up version of his G1 Jeep mode, Sideswipe’s is more of a futuristic version of his G1 Lamborghini mode, and I dig that a lot. It’s like Siege is taking the underlying characteristics of these alt modes and buffing them. So Hound gets more military and brutish and Sideswipe just gets sexier. Indeed, what we get here feels like a Lamborghini concept car, although I suppose it could still pass for a Cybertronian vehicle. I like the contouring on this car and the intakes behind each side of the driver compartment. The ribbing on the hood is nice, but the sides of the car are pretty f’ugly thanks to some seams and hinges. I also wish the black parts, just above and behind the front wheel wells, were painted red to match the rest of the car.

And speaking of paint, the deco is pretty simple and gets by with very little of it. The red plastic looks great with the tinted, smoked windows and you get some silver on the head lamps and the wheels. It’s all capped off with a crisp Autobot emblem stamped right in the middle of the hood.

If you like to weaponize your vehicles, there are three peg holes available, one on top and one on each side. Sideswipe’s weapon can also split so you have some additional options. If you’ve picked up some of the Battle Masters, you can also plug them on him.

Transformation here is super simple, and that makes the resulting robot mode all the more amazing. It’s clean, it’s fairly well proportioned, and it’s the spitting image of Sidesweipe’s old G1 robot mode. I particularly love the way his front wheels lock inside his shoulders and the way his legs fill out. But beyond how faithful his is to his roots, he’s also so tight and sturdy. Everything locks together so well that he feels more like a regular action figure than a Transformer.

Even from the back, Sideswipe’s design is super clean. Sure he has a big slab of car canopy for a back, but it’s rare that you get a Transformer that isn’t showing off some ugly bits from behind. As for the deco, it retains that nice red plastic, while adding a fair amount of off-white plastic in the arms, legs, and the frame around his neck. Some paint hits include the silver on his feet and waist, and some dry-brushing on his lower legs that look like wear and tear in the metal.

The head sculpt is terrific and also very evocative of the G1 character, complete with horns. If I were to nitpick anything about this figure, I’d say that I wished his head sat a little higher. If you look at him straight on, his chest plate covers a bit of his chin. But that’s only if I’m really looking for stuff to complain about.

Sideswipe’s weapon can be a rifle to hold in his hands, or it can be attached to his shoulder to simulate the G1 toy’s missile launcher. You can also pull it apart and mix things up a bit. I do kind of wish he had come with a proper rifle so he could have it and his shoulder launcher, but I think Hasbro’s really banking on people buying the smaller Battle Master packs for weapons.

And before wrapping up, here’s a quick comparison of Siege Sideswipe with the old Universe version. Honestly, I think I still prefer the Universe version’s auto mode over this one. It’s just cleaner and shows a lot less seams. As for the robot modes, I’m going to give the nod this new figure. I still love the Universe version, I think it’s a great looking figure with some neat engineering, but there’s something about how simple and elegant Siege Sideswipe that I just love. He’s also more fun to play with.

With three figures down in this Deluxe assortment, I have nothing but high praise for Siege. The figures look great, have some refreshingly simple transformations, and I’m digging the unabashed fanwanks back to the halcyon days of Generation One. Indeed, I would be thrilled if all of the Class of 84 Autobots got the Siege treatment! I’ve got one more Deluxe to look at, in a couple of weeks, and then I’ll start in on the big boys.

Transformers Siege: Skytread by Hasbro

Hasbro’s new line of Transformers continues to hit retail and I’ve just about completed picking up the first wave of Deluxe Class figures. Today I’m opening my second of the bunch and while he’s called Skytread on the package, I’ll happily re-name him Flywheels, because he’s a modern update to my favorite Duocon.

The new Siege packaging abandons the traditional card and bubble for a collector friendly box with some bitchin’ artwork. Of course, the Duocons were a new breed of Transformers gimmick that Hasbro introduced in 1987. These Decepticons could split in half, with each half transforming into its own independent vehicle. It was hardly a sub-group, as we only ever got two of these guys. The other was Battletrap, and Hasbro gave him an update as part of Power of the Primes, but he’s not really a proper Duocon. It’s too much to get into here, but maybe now I’ll get around to opening and reviewing those figures. But I digress… Skytread’s alt modes consist of a jet and a tank, so not entirely unlike Big Daddy Overlord, but these vehicles are pretty small and very simple. They’re also very similar to the original G1 toys, and some collectors will love that, others maybe not so much. Let’s first look at his jet mode…

Awww, who’s a cute little Decepticon attack jet? You ARE! Flywheels’ jet mode was an adorable super-deformed attack craft and this modern update really stuck to its guns on that account. It’s actually a pretty nice mold, with plenty of panel lines, sculpted rivets, flaps, and vents, but it still looks a bit like a chibi Harrier Jump Jet to me, even though the proportions probably aren’t that off. The coloring is mostly confined to the maroon plastic with painted blue cockpit and some gold painted trim, while there’s some brown showing on the obvious robot arms that make up his undercarriage. I would have liked to see a little in the way of paint detail, but as it stands, it sure beats the one color of plastic that passed for Flywheels’ jet deco. All in all, this is a frightfully simple little toy jet, but it begrudgingly gets my seal of approval because it serves up some major nostalgia for a toy that I really loved. Moving on to the tank mode…

This is the half that even nostalgia cannot save. It’s not too dissimilar from Flywheel’s tank mode, but even so, there’s just nothing at all appealing to me about this little piece of rolling armor. The brown body features some sculpted panel lines, decently sculpted treads, some gold paint hits and some silver weathering along the sides. The two guns are maroon plastic with some gold paint. The design isn’t very exciting at all, the back is hollow and ugly, the main gun barely stays put, and the top pieces are very difficult to keep tabbed in, despite this being a frightfully simple transformation. You can mount the smaller gun on either side of the main cannon or even on the sides, and while options are nice, it just isn’t enough to save this tank for me. The last time I was this disappointed with a Transformers tank mode had to be the Titans Return Cassette Tanks, and those were pretty damn bad. I will, however, allow this one to squeak by because he’s part of a bigger picture.

And because that’s one heck of a cool looking robot mode. As with Flywheels, Skytread’s tank mode forms the lower half of the robot with the jet forming the upper half. OK, it’s not exactly like the Duocon that inspired him, but it’s pretty close. And what deviation there is just serves to modernize the figure beautifully. There’s nothing terribly exciting or inventive about the engineering here, but it’s hard to argue with the end result. All those panel lines on the vehicle modes add some wonderful detail to the robot mode, and the two-tone brown and maroon deco works well for a Decepticon soldier. Besides, the blue cockpit and hits of gold paint do their parts to make him pop a little. The proportions are great and it holy hell, he actually has functional legs, which is a boast that the old toy couldn’t make.

From the back Skytread looks fairly clean and tidy. He wears the back half of the jet plane on his back, complete with an adorable little tail and you can even use the peg on his back to store one of his guns, or both if you want to combine them. My only real complaint here is that his torso is hollow, but unless you’re scrutinizing him from the sides, it isn’t really a big deal. And no, I’m not going to gripe about his big feet, because that’s just another loving nod to G1 Flywheels.

I can rarely find much fault in Hasbro’s bot-noggins, and that’s not going to change here. Skytread’s head sculpt is fantastic and a perfect homage to his predecessor.

Obviously, Skytread’s two tank guns also serve as weapons for his robot mode, and while the designs are pretty generic, he looks good holding them. The smaller gun is my favorite of the two, just because it’s compact.

 

The longer gun is fine, but it’s design is even more generic than the smaller one. Fortunately, you can peg them together…

To make one big rifle. I really dig this feature as well as the fact that there are two pegs for him to grab.

Skytread is so much fun in robot mode, that I’m not willing to let the crappy tank and mediocre jet modes tear him down. But then I’m a real sucker for modern updates and as far as I know, this is the first time Hasbro’s revisited this character. There’s just something so cool about taking that old design and doing it over with proper proportions and useful articulation. And yeah, there’s also a good deal of nostalgia at work here. As it happens, Flywheels was one of the last Transformers figures I ever bought before I got away from toys, and that was pushing it because I was 14 when he originally came out. He lacks a bit of the polish and premium feel that oozed out of Hound, but in the end I’m still smitten with how this modern Duocon turned out.

Transformers: Masterpiece Ratchet (MP-30) by Takara

Folks, I’ve been a bad MP Transformers collector. After a long run of scarfing up each of the releases, I hit a wall. My last MP purchase was Ironhide, and I reviewed him over two years ago! I love this line, so I could only attribute me falling off by the rising prices. I thought Ironhide was well worth the extra bucks, but $90 for a repaint? That’s considerably more than each of the three Datsuns set me back. And I didn’t want to skip Ratchet and go for Inferno, because that would be cheating. Ultimately, it was a renewed sense of urgency that got me back on track. Ratchet was selling out at a few places, and I worried that if I didn’t buy him now, I’d regret it later. Even better, I sold off a couple of Third-Party Go-Bots that I didn’t need in my collection and that more than paid for him. And so here we go!

It’s been a long time, but the packaging hasn’t changed. Ratchet comes the same kind of collector friendly enclosed box as Ironhide did, which is bigger than the previous MP Autobot cars. You get plenty of pictures of the toy in its various modes, but you don’t get a lot of English copy. All in all, I dig these boxes a lot. They aren’t flashy, but they are classy, and they’re made of heavy stock, so they store well. I actually keep my MP Collection boxed for the time being and they look great all lined up on the shelf.

Inside, the figure and goodies come on clear plastic trays, and it’s easy to see where the extra money went. Not only is Ratchet a big boy, but he comes with a whole bunch of accessories. You also get folded instructions, a character card and a set of stickers with two optional layouts. Yup, stickers! I went with the Autobot crosses because I just think it looked neat, but I’ll come back to the stickers in a bit. Ratchet comes packaged in his alt mode, so let’s start there!

It’s common knowledge that the early 80’s was the pinnacle of Japanese van design and nothing illustrates that better than the Nissan Cherry Vanette. And I’m not ashamed to say that after 35 years, it was only recently that the MP Collection taught me the make and model Ratchet and Ironhide’s alt modes. And yes, in van mode, Ratchet is just a straight recolor of Ironhide with a lightbar added to the top. He’s nearly entirely white, with a red stripe running along each side, blue windows, chromed out bumpers and matte silver wheels. All in all, it’s not a bad looking van, but there are a hell of a lot of seams breaking up the sides.

I’m not a huge fan of the exposed robot face behind the windshield. OK, it’s a cute nod back to the original toy, but probably not one that needed to be so in my face every time I look at it. Also, it serves no purpose at all, which makes me even more sorry that they added it. Does it ruin the van mode? Nah, not really, but it’s worth picking at all the same. You do get a nice Autobot emblem right on the front of the van, and while there are stickers for the auto mode, I’ve chosen to leave them off for now.

Initially, I thought the lightbar would prevent Ratchet from catching a ride in MP Optimus Prime’s trailer, but it’s spring-loaded and you can push it down to roll him inside. It does sometimes get caught when trying to get him out and a few times, I’ve had to pop open the trailer, rather than risk scratching it.

Finally, like Ironhide, there’s a flip up socket on the top of Ratchet’s van mode, which can be used to insert any of the weapons that are designed to be held in his hands. And who doesn’t love a weaponized ambulance, eh?

As expected, the transformation is identical to Ironhide and if you want to share my wonder at experiencing it for the first time then dip back into my Ironhide review. Sadly, the magic is old hat now, but I can still appreciate what Takara’s teams of convertorobot engineers have pulled off here. This shouldn’t work. You shouldn’t be able to get that much robot into that little van. Hell, they couldn’t even come close with the original toy. And yet here it is. Ratchet’s resulting robot mode is almost identical to Ironhide. Takara changed up their pelvic plates, but from the neck down the only other difference is the coloring. And that’s a good thing, because I absolutely loved this robot mode on Ironhide and it looks just as fabulous here on the Autobots’ Chief Medic. From the front, everything looks so impossibly clean and boxy and every other ideal that a G1-designed Transformer should strive to be. The legs are nearly devoid of any van evidence at all and I dig the little armor plates that land on his hips. The front windshield of the van is worn perfectly as the chest, and it impresses me to no end that there aren’t even any wheels visible from the front.

Turn him around and things aren’t quite as polished. There are a lot of exposed screw holes and for the money involved, it would have been cool if Takara had plugged these, or at least offered plugs for us to do it ourselves, like TFC did with their set of Not-Aerialbot figures. You do get a smidgen of van kibble from the back, notably the chrome bumpers on his heels, the windows on the backs of his forearms and his wheel butt… WHEEL BUTT!!! I’ve been in forums where fans complained about this stuff and I was amazed. Hey, complain about whatever you like, that’s your right, but I think this figure is a great achievement of design. He’s also a hefty, solid bot and so much fun to play with!

Obviously we got a brand new head sculpt, and it captures all the character of Ratchet from the Sunbow cartoon. I love the rounded “helmet” and the giant wings over his eyes. The eyes themselves are a bright and beautiful shade of blue, and the rest of the face is finished off in a pleasing matte gray. And if you want to add a little variety to your display options…

He also comes with a second face plate, this time offering a delightful smile. And as long as we’re focusing in on the head and shoulders, I’ll toss out there now that I’m not a big fan of the stickers for the shoulders. To be fair, they look pretty good, and I understand why Takara had to do it. Apparently there were trademark issues concerning the use of the Red Cross. Personally, I would have been fine if they just printed the ones I used on there and been done with it, but I guess some collectors were looking for something more traditional. I just hope they stay on well and don’t yellow over time. But, enough about that… let’s look at some accessories!

Ratchet comes with a boat load of accessories. Or in this case, a sled load. Like Ironhide, Rachet includes a plastic base, which is an homage to the sled that was made up of the bottom part of the original toy’s van mode. This isn’t a direct copy, there’s no treads on the bottom and it isn’t involved at all in the transformation. It is, however, a place to store all those accessories in a way that nods back to the original. For a medic, Ratchet comes with a lot of guns, so let’s start with those first!

A number of the accessories are recycled from Ironhide, the first of which are the twin laser guns. I love these things! They have a nice satin gray finish and fit perfectly into Ratchet’s hands with a tab to secure them into the palms. Getting them out can be a little tricky, but he looks great wielding them.

Next up is what I think is called a Static Laser. It’s instantly recognizable as the gun that was positioned on the front of the original toy’s sled, and I used it to demonstrate the way Ratchet’s mode can be weaponized. It’s got a chrome finish and a white handle. It’s a very distinctive design, but probably not one that I’m going to display him with a whole lot.

Next up is the last recycled accessory from Ironhide ant that’s the missile launcher that plugs into his back. I can remember Ironhide shooting this thing off while flying in the Sunbow cartoon, but I don’t recall Ratchet ever using it. Still, it’s a logical accessory to recycle seeing as a similar piece was included with the G1 vans and I dig it quite a bit. The launcher has a satin gray finish and the missile is chromed out. It can come out of the launcher, but it doesn’t actually fire. Moving on to the new stuff…

Ratchet has one new gun and it’s this little pistol. It’s a cool design, but I really don’t have much else to say about it.

Like Ironhide, Ratchet could retract his hand and deploy various tools. In this case he comes with what is either an arc welder or a cutting torch… or why not both? To attach it you just flip his hand back into his arm and tab it into the spot where the hand used to be. It’s a useful tool for when he needs to do a weld on one of his wounded cameras or cut human survivors out of fallen debris. I don’t know why, but I always loved when the Transformers made use of these types of gizmos.

Ratchet can also produce a repair beam from his forearm. This just plugs right into the peg hole on either of his arms. There’s also an effect part that pegs into the end of the emitter and you get an illustrated cardboard insert that can be slipped in behind the windshield on his chest to produce vital signs. I’ll likely be displaying him with this all the time!

And finally, Ratchet comes with some wrenches, two regular and one magna-wrench.

I collect a lot of toys and other shit, so naturally my budget has its limitations. So throwing $90 at what is mostly a repaint of Ironhide certainly gave me pause. It was my love of Ratchet that finally got me to knuckle down and take the plunge, and I think the fact that it took so long for me to do it worked to my advantage. Two years after getting Ironhide made picking up Ratchet a lot more of a fresh experience and it made me fall in love with this mold all over again. I’m still in awe of how they made this toy work, and it’s a tribute to its intuitive engineering that even after a long while away from this mold, I was able to transform Ratchet without using the instructions. And it makes me happy to finally have the two Autobot vans together at last. If anything, I came away from this review with a renewed passion for the MP line.

Transformers Siege: Hound by Hasbro

Power of the Primes is dead… Long live Siege! Yes, it’s that time again, folks, for Hasbro to shake things up with a new line of their irresistible RoboConvertobots, and this time the new series is named Siege: The War for Cybertron Trilogy. That’s a mouthful, so I’ll just be referring to it as Siege. It’s a line that looks like it will be extra heavily influenced by the G1 goodness that I love so much. It’s also a line that will be giving us some badly needed re-dos of some old friends. And today’s review is a great example of just that, because it’s Hound!

Hound has always been among my favorites of the G1 Autobots. I really loved his original toy, and I adored him in the original Sunbow Mini-Series. The last time he got a Deluxe Class update was way back in 2009 as part of the Classics line. I loved that figure when it came out, but it’s definitely aged a bit, so I’m anxious to see if this new Hound can replace him. And check out that packaging! The cards and bubbles have been replaced with these collector friendly window boxes. The deco still features the Transformers logo running up the front, right side in bold red lettering, but now we get some totally bitchin’ character art on the slanted left side panel. Everything about these boxes feels premium, and I may actually try to keep these. Anyway, Hound comes packaged in his robot mode, but we’ll start with his alt mode.

OK, so there’s definitely some stuff to love here, but I’ll confess I would have liked something more akin to Hound’s traditional Jeep alt-mode. The front actually looks fine, but the rest of it is ugly as sin. It looks like a Jeep bumped uglies with a Hummer and this is what resulted in that union. I don’t hate it, but overall I’m not digging it all that much either. That’s not to say that there isn’t some good stuff going on here. The sculpt does feature some nice attention to detail, they even managed to get something that looks like seats in the driver area, and there are peg holes all over this thing, so you can load it up with weapons. Hmm… I wonder if that’s some kind of running theme for Siege?

Yup! Apparently, interchangeable weapons are going to be a big deal in this line and that should make for some good times. Hound comes with a rifle and his familiar G1 rocket launcher and there are loads of places you can put them on his alt mode and still leave room for about a half-dozen additional weapons.

But it’s the coloring and the paint that impresses me the most here and makes this feel like a premium toy. The olive green they used for most of the base plastic is a pretty close fit for the original G1 toy and the gold trim, as well as the star and Autobot emblem on the hood really drives the homage home. Additional paint hits include some yellow and white for the array of lights on the front of the vehicle, red for the taillights, and some dry-brushing on the front bumper to add some wonderful looking weathering. I can’t remember the last time we’ve seen something like that on a Deluxe Transformer. All in all, I think this new vehicle mode works great as a toy, but as far as the design goes, it loses points for having a case of the uglies. Then again, it’s a military vehicle, so I guess it doesn’t have to look that pretty. Let’s get Hound transformed and see how his robot mode makes out.

Holy hell! Suddenly I’m willing to forgive all the sins of the alt mode for this amazing robot mode. While the design certainly takes some liberties, it’s faithful in all the right places. It’s pretty cool how all four of the wheels wind up on his lower legs, leaving a clean upper half. The chest is beautifully boxy and appropriately Jeepy and I love that all the extra paint hits from the vehicle mode are prominently displayed here. Not to mention you get some more of that lovely dry-brushing on his lower legs. The proportions here are excellent as well, and I particularly dig the lateral rockers in his ankles.

From the back, Hound looks pretty clean and tidy. The roll-cage from his alt mode folds up into a pretty neat backpack and from back here we can see the four wheels, all attached to the vehicle’s side panels, wrap neatly around his lower legs. Hound has a little hollow-leg syndrome going on back here, but I’m usually willing to forgive that. All in all, Hound features a great robot mode and it’s achieved with a fairly simple transformation.

The head sculpt is spot-on beautiful! He’s got that great boxy “helmet” that I’ve always loved, flawless silver paint on his face, and a pair of pale blue eyes that are so bright, I’d almost swear there was light-piping involved. His distinctive G1-inspired missile launcher can mount on either his left or right shoulder, and while it doesn’t actually have a missile, the design is unmistakable from the original’s. The stars on the shoulders are a great touch too!

In addition to his shoulder cannon, Hound comes with two other accessories, a round canister and a rifle. The canister pegs onto the back of the vehicle mode, and I’m thinking it’s meant to be an homage to the spare tire on the original toy. But it can also plug into the back of the gun to form a drum. I like the gun design a lot, even if it isn’t very reminiscent of Hound’s G1 rifle, and it has some nice silver paint apps.

With new boxes and snazzy new paint jobs, comes a price and in this case Hasbro has raised the rent considerably. The Deluxe Class figures of the Siege line are running $20 at the local Target and that seems to be the going price around the neighborhood. It’s a big jump from the $16.99 of the Power of the Primes Deluxes and it’ll be interesting to see if the higher price tag means Siege is intended more for collectors over the kiddies. As for me? Well, it’s easy for me to see where the money went. Everything about the quality here feels like Hasbro is upping their game, and I have to say Hound is one of my favorite Deluxe Class figures to come out in a while. That’s saying a lot, because we got some incredibly solid figures out of Titans Return and Power of the Primes. For now, I’m anxious to check out the rest of the Deluxes in this wave, as well as some of the smaller bots.

Transformers “Power of the Primes:” Wreck-Gar by Hasbro

Wow, Walgreens sure has been killing it with the Hasbro exclusives lately. Star Wars, Marvel Legends, and even Transformers have all been represented. And as strange a partnership as it is, I’m happy for it because either one of the two Walgreens nearest to me seem to always have me covered. And so the moment Wreck-Gar turned up in my Twitter feed, I made a quick trip to Walgreens around the corner and happily found him on the shelf! And all this when I thought I was completely done with buying Power of the Primes Deluxes!

Wreck-Gar comes in the standard Power of the Primes packaging with some pretty cool character art up at the top of the card. And unlike some of Hasbro’s other Walgreens releases, there’s no sticker or anything to indicate he’s a retailer exclusive. The bubble gives a great look at the figure in robot mode (albeit slightly mis-transformed to fit in the package) and there’s an illustrated insert showing the toy in his alt mode. Let’s start there…

If it wasn’t apparent from the packaged shot, Wreck-Gar is very nearly a straight repaint of the Deluxe Protectobot, Groove from Combiner Wars. Indeed, when he’s in his motorcycle mode, the coloring is the only difference. I liked this motorcycle well enough when it was Groove, and I still like it now. Yes, it’s a bit boxy, but motorcycle Transformers have always been tricky designs, especially when you’re going for a more boxy G1-style robot aesthetic. Plus this guy is a combiner limb too, so that has to be factored into the design problems. Taking all that into account, I think they did a pretty nice job. And hey, he’s still not nearly as chunky as the original toy! The new deco certainly sells it as Wreck-Gar. You get a lot of orange along with some red, black, gray, brown, and silver. There aren’t any complex paint applications here, but the range of colors is pretty high for a modern Deluxe. The clear windscreen has an Autobot symbol printed on it, and the headlamps covers are clear plastic.

Features include a turning front wheel, which is not tied to the handlebars, and a flip-down kickstand. It’s worth noting that the wheel swivel on my figure is crazy tight and when you couple that with the fact that the wheel struts are soft plastic, I had to be pretty careful when turning it so as not to stress the plastic, and I doubt I’ll be doing it again. It’s not a big deal in motorcycle mode but, as we’ll soon see, that swivel can be used for tweaking the transformation, if you so choose. And speaking of which, let’s go ahead and check out his robot mode.

As expected, the robot mode is simply a repaint of Groove with a new head slapped on him, and all things considered I think it works pretty well. Sure, he’s missing his rather distinctive nipple guns, and he doesn’t have a tire on his shoulder. Plus, it would have been cool if his combiner connector was painted silver to simulate the engine, but I still like how this guy turned out.

From the back, we can see that he wears the front of the motorcycle as a backpack, and while it does stick out pretty far, I don’t think it’s all that bad. And here’s where that front wheel swivel comes in. On Groove, I like to turn the wheel sideways as it makes the backpack a little less cumbersome, but given how tight the swivel is on this figure, I think I’m going to leave it be.

And that leads me to my other real gripe with this figure. The head is so damn tiny! Obviously they sized it so it could flip back into the compartment on his back, although I would argue that it wasn’t necessary. Well, maybe to make him into a combiner limb, but that’s not something I plan to do with him, so I would have rather just had a larger head. And that’s a shame because the sculpt itself is fantastic. They recreated the front of the motorcycle and handlebars that the G1 figure had as a “helmet” really well and his tiny beard and mustache are there too. I just with his noggin were bigger.

The figure comes with two accessories: A Black Prime Armor piece, which is getting tossed into the Tote of Forgotten Accessories™ and a bladed axe kind of weapon. The weapon looked familiar and sure enough it’s the same one that came with the Wreck-Gar figure from the 2011 Reveal the Shield release.

For what is essentially a quick-and-dirty repaint, I find myself enjoying this figure a lot. Yes, even with his small head! The 2011 Wreck-Gar was a decent figure, and his asymmetrical design really sold him as a Junkion, but mine broke during transformation, which was pretty disappointing because I don’t transform these toys a lot. Either way, I think this one’s boxier physique sells it more as a G1 homage, and for that I’m willing to give it the nod as my favorite of the two. If I still had the 2011 version, I’d try to do a head swap. Maybe I still have him kicking around somewhere! On a side note, I have one more Power of the Primes Deluxe to open up and review and then I’ll start hitting some of the bigger bots I missed out on. Hopefully, that’ll give me enough Transformers to talk about until the new line starts showing up!