Transformers Universe 2.0: Skyfall by Hasbro

It’s Transformers Thursday and still no new Titans Return figures for me to look at this week. I do have that G2 Superion set kicking around, but I’m saving that for a real dry spell. Luckily, I have an older figure to gush over today, thanks to a fellow collector on Twitter who posted a picture of this fella in their collection and making me realize that I needed him. This was a loose Ebay grab, so I’ve got no in package shot to offer. So, let’s have a look at Skyfall from the Transformers Universe line and jump right into his alt mode.



SEXY! This alt mode might look a little familiar. If so, that’s because Skyfall is a straight repaint of Silverbolt. Yeah, for some reason Hasbro decided to make a one-off, non-combining Aerialbot for their Classics/Universe/Generations line. I always thought that was weird. I owned Silverbolt, he was a great toy, but I eventually traded him away when I started collecting TFC’s Not-Aerialbots. He seemed superfluous. The fact that he got a Decepticon repaint gave me a great excuse to get the mold back into my collection again and as a brand new character. In his original G1 colors, this mold had a passing resemblance to Silverbolt’s old Concorde alt mode, I suppose, but with the back-swept fixed wings and the jagged cut rear, this fresh coat of paint really goes a long way to make it look like a lean, mean, Decepticon fighting machine.



Besides being a great alt mode, it’s the colors on this toy that really sells it. The new deco features some lovely high-gloss black plastic with gorgeous red and gold paint apps, all of which conspires to bring out the stealth fighter in this mold. Toss in some silver Decepticon logos and registry numbers and this is one gorgeous aircraft. There’s also some translucent red plastic on the windshields, the back of the engines, and set into the intakes. Because Skyfall is an Ultra Class he has some added electronics. You press the button on his back to cycle through the different effects. The first press offers a flyby sound, the second press is the engines starting up and flashing, the third press are the guns firing with those intake lights flashing. I’m not usually a big fan of electronics in my Transformers toys, but here’s an instance where I think they work great.


Skyfall also features a large missile launcher slung under the nose and canopy.  It incorporates the black, red, and gold color scheme of the rest of the aircraft and it fires pretty well. There are three sets of hinged landing gear and yes, because this is a Silverbolt repaint, there’s plenty of boxy robot kibble hanging off the bottom of the plane. Thankfully, it all tucks away pretty neatly. There isn’t a whole lot to transforming Skyfall. You just fold out the arms and legs and fold the aircraft onto his back. Those lights and sounds come into effect for the head reveal. When you push his legs up into place the head pops up and you get that wonderful transforming sound from the G1 cartoon as well as flashing eyes.


If you didn’t recognize Silverbolt in the alt mode, than surely you can see him here, as Skyfall is just Silverbolt with a more sinister paint job. I absolutely adore this robot mode. The entire torso is so evocative of the G1 aesthetic and I really dig the way the landing gear hatches sit on his shoulders. How cool would it have been if they could have converted these to opening rocket packs for Skyfall! Anyway, the deco retains the same black and red palate with a little gold and silver and once again the coloring on this figure is gorgeous. My only complaint here is that I think the empty gold square in his chest is an odd choice. They should have just moved the Decepticon logo from his right shoulder to there. But, now I’m really nitpicking.


As mentioned, Skyfall wears the entire jet mode folded it up on his back. It packs away pretty well and isn’t nearly as kibbly as one might expect. It also doesn’t make him too back heavy. I think it looks fine, but it would have been even better if there was a way to rotate it so the nose was pointing down and the wings swept out like a cape.


The head is the same Silverbolt sculpt and it works surprisingly well as a Decepticon. What was a noble hint of a smile as an Autobot becomes a slightly smug smirk for a Decepticon. I dig the gold paint used for the face and those eyes look fantastic for that brief moment when they’re flashing after the transformation. In this mode you can still press the button on his back to get the firing sound effect.


The articulation here is nothing special by today’s standards, but not bad for a 2009 release. The arms and legs feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and hips and hinges in the elbows and knees. You also get swivels in the biceps and thighs and the head swivels as well. Nearly all the joints on this guy are strong ratchets and heel spurs help stabilize him. He’s a solid figure that can really hold a pose.




Naturally, the gun in his aircraft mode becomes his rifle in robot mode and he can hold it in either hand.




It’s been a while since I was able to gush all over an older Transformer, but Skyfall is definitely worthy of the attention. I think he scales really well with the Leader Class Decepticons, especially Combiner Wars Megatron and the Seekers. The aesthetics of both his alt and robot modes still hold up splendidly and while he’s a relatively simple toy for his size, he makes up for it with some value added electronics. He’ll serve my Decepticon forces well as a long range aerial spy. I mean with a name like Skyfall, he’s got to be a spy, right? I seem to recall these Ultra Class toys selling for around $30 new. I was able to pick up Skyfall in beautiful condition for $20, but half of that was shipping, and well worth every penny to get this mold back into my collection.

Transformers Universe 2.0: Inferno by Hasbro

I’m just about done closing the gap of older Classics/Generations figures missing from the FFZ Archive. In fact, unless I discover a hold out among my storage totes, Inferno here may very well be the last one. That means that if I don’t find a Roadbuster this weekend, next week I may be dipping back into the Unicron Trilogy toys for Transformers Thursday fodder. Hey, nothing wrong with that! Anyway, the Generations line has been mostly about Deluxe figures, and I’ve been happy about that because the Deluxe Class has always been my personal ideal size for Transformers figures. Inferno, however, like a lot of Universe 2.0 figures, bucked that trend by presenting us with a Voyager Class figure. It was a logical enough choice, since the original Inferno was notably taller than the regular Autobot cars. As usual, the box is long gone, so we’re going to jump right in and check out his alt mode.



Yup, you guessed it… Inferno is a fire truck. I have actually looked at his cousin, Reveal the Shield Grappel, so this mold has appeared on the pages of FFZ before, despite the fact that Inferno came first. Inferno isn’t one of those traditional full-blown hook and ladder firetrucks, but rather a somewhat truncated one with a water cannon on top. I know next to nothing about firetrucks so I’m not sure if this is something real or not, but it certainly looks convincing enough and I have a feeling that by nixing a ladder on top, Inferno dodged the same kibble-arm bullet that poor Grappel suffered.


Indeed, Inferno is one of the most realistic looking vehicles to come out of the entire Classics-Universe-Generations line. The sculpt features some insanely intricate detailwork, particularly on the sides where all the little vents, plating and fire-stopping doo-dads are recreated. The white paint and lettering and numbering on the sides also goes a long way to make this a great looking toy. And finally, you get lots of clear plastic for the windows, headlamps and roof lights, all of which gives the vehicle some major class in my eyes. Sure, if you view the vehicle from the top down you can make out a set of robot arms and hands, but otherwise, this vehicle is practically without fault. I’d dare say that Inferno looks so good, it’s almost like he belongs in a different line altogether.



The water cannon on top can swivel, raise and lower and shoots a translucent blue missile made to look like a blast of water. So, is that really supposed to be water or an actual weapon that looks like water? Or can he switch between water and a real weapon? It would be embarrassing to try to take out a Decepticon with a blast of water, or conversely, to try to put out a fire by shooting energy weapons at it and blowing up the building. Am I overthinking this? Ok, let’s transform Inferno and check out his robot mode.


Hot damn! Not only is Inferno’s vehicle mode great, but his robot mode is a damn fine piece of work too. In fact, when viewed from the front, I’d say he’s very near perfect. His broad chest is comprised of the front of the firetruck and there’s some really neat stuff going on with the way the panels fold up behind his shoulders and on his forearms, the front wheels fold into his hips, and how his front bumper just drops to become his pelvis. All those clear plastic pieces are on display here and once again go a long way to give him that extra special realism and classes up the figure big time. By Primus, I love this guy!


Generations always impresses me with the head sculpts, and Inferno here is no exception. The portrait is very evocative of the original G1 character with a clean, silver painted face and some gorgeous light piping for his blue eyes.




Yeah, Inferno has a few blemishes. The biggest for me is the way he’s a bit two-dimensional in design. Like I said before, he looks nearly perfect from the front, but get a side view and he looks a bit like he’s missing his back half. View him from behind and he looks rather hollow. His arm cannon is also a little awkwardly placed. It’s slung down under his arm, which is fine for when you actually want him using his arm as an arm, but I’d much rather it land on the outside of his arm, as it would make it easier for him to aim convincingly.




Ah, but none of these quibbles can extinguish my love for this figure. Eh? See what I did there? Extinguish? YEAH! I’m drinking, baby!!! Inferno is a gorgeous figure and I definitely see him as one of the high points in what is already a pretty remarkable line of figures. I was certainly happy to see the mold get re-used in Reveal the Shield as Grappel (pronounced “Solar Storm Gra-pelle!”), although thanks to some annoying crane arm kibble, Inferno remains my favorite of the two. And I’m only now realizing how sad that huge Protectobot Hot Spot-shaped hole in my collection is making me, so I highly doubt this is the last time we’ll see this mold appear here on FFZ.

Transformers Universe 2.0: Sunstreaker by Hasbro

Ah, it’s Thursday again and time to sit around the campfire and talk about little plastic robots that turn into other little plastic things. As promised last week I’ve gone to my Transformers laden shelves and snatched down the other half of the Lambor Brothers… Sunstreaker! I mentioned last time that the Universe 2.0 Sideswipe-Sunstreaker duo was the first time I can remember Hasbro deliberately engineering a mold to serve different transformations for different characters. It’s a practice that they’ve had a lot of success with since, one of my favorites being the Tracks and Wheeljack shared mold that still blows my mind. I’ve got no in-package shot, so let’s go right to the alt mode!!



And there he is in all his canary yellow Lamborghini goodness! As a kid, I loved Sunstreaker. He had a totally unique robot mode and there was just something so cool about him that my other Autobots always wanted him to go on missions with him. I think I also might have considered him to be Bumblebee’s older brother just because they were both yellow and that’s how such things work in robot biology when you’re 10 years old. Where was I?


Oh yeah, this bitchin Lamborghini mode! Sunstreaker’s sculpt is identical to his brother Sideswipe, so we’re only dealing with a recolor here. Also, like Sideswipe, ‘Streaker gets by with very little paintwork and mostly colored plastic. Anyone who’s read my Transformers features before probably knows that the yellow plastic Hasbro uses is often hit or miss with me. In this case, however, it’s a total hit. This is no shitty cheap looking swirly yellow plastic. It’s vibrant and looks amazing. Just compare this guy to the recent IDW Generations Bumblebee or better yet TF: Prime Deluxe Bumblebee and you’ll see what I mean. Once again, I dig that there aren’t a lot of seams running all over the car. Apart from the doors you just have one seam running down the back and bisecting the rear. You still have those great clear plastic headlights, the windows retain the same black paint used for Sideswipe, but unlike his brother, Sunstreaker proudly displays his Autobot emblem in auto mode, right on the top of the roof. Right on, Sunstreaker! Be proud of your Autobot heritage!



Sunstreaker also sports a personalized license plate, in this case it reads“WE R 84.” It’s cool, but I think an abbreviation of Sunstreaker would have matched Sideswipe better. Honestly, the only real complaint I have with the coloring here is that the intakes on the engine piece are left bare grey plastic and don’t look as sharp as the painted ones on Sideswipe. Even so, these two cars look great together!



Transforming Sunstreaker is virtutally identical to Sideswipe. The main difference is that you’ll be reversing the torso and arms. In my Sideswipe feature, I probably commented on how much I love the engineering here, but let me say it again anyway. Everything packs in to the auto mode so beautifully and converting the figure in either direction is engaging and fun. The result is the same design as Sideswipe from the waist down, but a new look for the torso and obviously a brand new head sculpt.


Once again, Hasbro did a beautiful job with the updated portrait, but that was par for the course on the Classics and Universe 2.0 lines. These along with Generations have had some of my favorite head sculpts of all time. The face is beautifully sculpted and neatly painted and Sunstreaker features rather distinctive “ears” similar to the ones on the original G1 toy. I also like the way they spring out during his head reveal.



The deco here is basically Sideswipe with a pallet shift. You get the yellow in place of red and grey plastic in place of white, with much of the black staying the same. Sunstreaker features the same translucent blue plastic inlays on his thighs, which look great, but I can’t help but think it would have been neat to see those cast in yellow instead. As with his engine intakes, the only gripe I have here is that Sideswipe’s pistol is left in bare grey plastic, which isn’t as attractive as his brother’s snazzy black and white weapon. Considering how vain he is about his appearance, I would expect Sunstreaker to have more bling on his gun.





Sunstreaker is an amazing figure all on his own, but both he and Sideswipe are all the more impressive when displayed as a pair. Yes, there’s a lot more similarities between the two this time around than could be found in their G1 toys, but I still can’t help but admire what Hasbro was able to achieve here with what is essentially the same mold. This pair definitely rank in among my favorite of all the Classics/Universe 2.0 figures. To me they achieve everything that this line set out to accomplish.

Transformers Universe 2.0: Sideswipe by Hasbro

Until some new Generations start showing up in my area I’m going to continue to spend Thursdays looking backward through the Classics/Universe 2.0 line. Today’s random grab off of my shelf is none other than that sexy red Lamborghini Sideswipe. I haven’t really looked at this figure since Sideswipe got the Masterpiece treatment so it should be interesting to see if this toy still holds up. As is often the case with these older figures, I’ve got no in-package shot, so let’s jump straight to his alt mode.



After being revamped for the Bay movies as a silver Corvette it’s nice to see him in his original red Lamborghini mode again. I can’t remember whether or not Hasbro actually got the license and my knowledge of Lamborghini models isn’t intimate enough to tell whether or not this is the real deal, but it sure looks close enough for me. Not only does Sideswipe’s alt mode look great, it’s impressive how few seam lines it has. Apart from what you would normally find on the doors, there’s just a single seam running down the back. Not too shabby at all!



The alt mode does not feature a whole lot of paintwork, but the economy of colors works fine. The bulk of the car is molded in a pleasing red with just a few areas where you can see some swirly patterns in the plastic. You get some red stripes on the sides, a few yellow paint hits near the front and painted black windows. The rear of the car is painted black and you get a customized license plat that reads, “SWIPE!” The entire package is rounded out by some nice looking silver wheels, clear plastic headlamps, and a removable engine pegged into the top. All in all, this car mode looks great and locks together beautifully. I’d say it holds up wonderfully. The only thing I think he’s missing is a nice big Autobot insignia centered on the hood.


And just for the hell of it, here’s a peek at the undercarriage. Look at that! That is one well-packed Transformer. It also gives plenty of clearance for rolling the car and it even includes storage for the gun!



In his robot mode, Sideswipe represents the same mix of original design influenced by the character’s G1 roots that characterizes the rest of the Classics/Universe 2.0 line. I gotta say, I’m still digging it as much as when I first got him. You get the same folded down hood as a chest as his original toy and the Autobot insignia finally makes its appearance. The biggest departure on this design comes in his lower legs where the rear bumper splits apart to become his knees. It’s not as streamlined as his original design, but I still think it works pretty well. My only complaint here is that I wish those two bumper pieces actually tabbed into place somehow. All in all, I get a strong Alternators vibe from this robot mode, and that ain’t a bad thing at all!


The engine piece reattaches to his back to form a sort of jetpack, which is certainly a nice touch although it’s also completely optional if you want to leave it off.


The deco here is gorgeous. Sideswipe retains a lot of his red and black motif, but you also get the addition of white for his arms, upper legs, an upper chest. The design also adds to brilliant pieces of transparent blue plastic to his thighs which goes a long way to make the figure’s colors pop.


The Classics and Universe 2.0 lines rarely disappoints when it comes to the G1 inspired head sculpts and Sideswipe here is no exception. The portrait here is absolutely brillaint from his horned helmet to his neatly painted silver face. The blue light piping effect in the eyes is also highly effective and absolutely gorgeous.


Sadly, Sideswipe does not come with his shoulder mounted missile launcher, despite the fact that there are clearly peg holes to accommodate such a weapon. He does, however, come with a very nice pistol that doubles as his exhaust pipes when in auto mode.




I absolutely loved this figure when it first came out and even after Sideswipe’s Masterpiece treatment, I still love this figure today. Hasbro delivered with a beautiful auto mode and a kick-ass robot mode. The engineering at work here is inspired and he’s an extremely fun figure to play around with. The other really cool thing about this figure is that it’s one of the first instances that I can remember where Hasbro designed a mold that would accommodate independent engineering and work as a separate character. In this case, that character is the other half of the Lambor brothers, Sunstreaker, and we’ll go ahead and check out that figure next Thursday!

Transformers Universe 2.0: Autobot Hound by Hasbro

Holy crap, it’s Thursday again and that means I have to come up with another Transformer to review. Well, today I’m keeping the Classics train rolling along with a look at one of my favorite Autobot characters, Hound, as he appeared in the Classics/Universe line. As a kid, I loved Hound because he was such a cool dude, he had a neat Hologram gun, and he’d rather be admiring how beautiful the Earth was than fight Decepticons. That, of course is G1 Hound, not to be confused with Age of Extinction Hound who murdered a helpless creature in a cage because he was… and I’m quoting here… “Too ugly to live.” He was also voiced by John Goodman and when Optimus Prime said, “Autobots Roll Out!” I expected Hound to say, “I don’t roll on Shabbas!!” ZING! Anywaaaay… the Universe 2.0 version of Hound also came with Ravage and I’m guessing it’s because at one point the Hound helped to capture him. Obviously, the packaging for this figure is long gone, so let’s jump right in and look at Hound’s alt mode.



The original G1 Hound was a green army Jeep. This new incarnation is also a green army Jeep… sort of. I think Hasbro tried to go with something more modern looking, but to me the end result makes him look less realistic and more toyish. In fact, only the government issue green and the white stars on the front fenders suggest he’s a military vehicle. That having been said, I like the big off-road wheels and the huge ramming bar on the front. There’s even a sculpted winch on the front bumper. Considering how absolutely gorgeous G1 Hound’s alt mode is, and I think it still holds up beautifully, this new incarnation misses the mark a bit, but I guess it still works for me.



The interior is pretty well done, complete with bucket seats and a fairly detailed dashboard. I have a soft spot in my heart for open top vehicle modes that manage to reproduce a somewhat convincing driving area and Hound certainly does that. Some stickers or paintwork would have gone a long way to pick out the details in the dash, but it’s still pretty good.


The rear machine gun from Hound’s G1 days is gone and in its place is an area where you can store Ravage. There’s two flip up tabs that fit the holes in the cassette mode. But more on the Decepti-kitty in a bit…



Hound does come with one weapon, his missile launcher, and it’s damn frustrating. It can be tabbed into either of the seats, and I can’t say as I like the way it looks there. Meh!



Hound’s robot mode is pure love to me, even though it does feature some departures from his original design. The ramming bar on his chest changes up his aesthetics quite a bit, and yet I still like it because it makes him look more rugged. Two of his wheels land on his shoulders, and again as far as original tweaks to the design go, I like the way it looks a lot. I also really dig the way his feet are proportioned. It really nails the Sunbow aesthetic quite well. From the back, Hound isn’t quite as refined. His lower legs are completely hollowed out and so is the area behind his head. I try not to judge Transformers too harshly from the back view so I’m going to let it pass.


While the body may take some liberties with design, Hound’s portrait is pure G1 goodness. The blocky helmet looks great as does the sculpt in his face. And, oh my god, the blue light piping in his eyes. So beautiful!


Hound’s missile launcher is just as frustrating in his robot mode. It’s designed so that it can clip on behind either shoulder, but not very well. It looks awkward and it falls off really easy. This is the one aspect of this figure’s design that really wasn’t well thought out.



Luckily it can double as his handgun, but it’s a poor substitute for his iconic hologram gun. I know that Third Party companies have fixed these problems, but I never took advantage of those releases. Maybe someday, providing I can still track them down.



And then there’s Ravage and as already mentioned he is indeed a cassette. Sadly there’s no tampo with cassette tape details, instead what you get is basically a plastic rectangle with a couple holes in it. I guess it’s totally possible that some kids buying this figure would have no idea what Ravage’s alt mode is supposed to be. God, I’m old! Ravage’s Jaguar mode is very cool thanks to a rather clever bit of engineering that adds a lot of depth to him. His legs are fully articulated and in lieu of the proper Masterpiece Ravage, I have this guy sitting at the feet of my MP-10 Soundwave. And if you miss his side mounted guns, once again there are Third Party companies out there that have you covered.




It may sound like I have a lot of issues with Classics/Universe Hound, but the truth is I like this figure a lot. Like many figures in this line, he’s definitely a reimagining of the character but at the same time he doesn’t completely forget his roots. Yes, I would have preferred a more realistic Jeep mode and yes I wish they had designed his missile launcher better and included his hologram gun, but I’m still very satisfied having him on my Classics shelf and I’ll even go so far as say he’s one of my favorite figures in the display. But I still wish I had kept my Alternators Hound.

Transformers Universe 2.0: Hardhead by Hasbro

It’s Thursday again and that means it’s time to rummage through the bins and find something from the days of Transformers past. Today’s feature, however, isn’t a random pick. We’re looking at Universe 2.0 Hardhead because in a week or so (or whenever I get caught up with the stack of unopened toys in the corner) I’m going to be featuring Toyworld’s homage to the Hardhead character and I thought it would be neat to dig out Hasbro’s last tribute to him. To be fair, the homage here is quite a reach. He isn’t a Headmaster, and the similarities amount to little more than the same name and a vaguely similar deco. But then Hardhead hasn’t gotten a lot of love from Hasbro and this is a very cool figure, so let’s look at him anyway.


The packaging for mine is long gone, but I spend enough money on Amazon that I don’t feel bad about cribbing their photo, so long as I’m giving them a plug here as well. Hardhead hails from the Universe 2.0 series, which was an extension of Classics before Hasbro settled for the more sensible Generations moniker. He was released in the 25th Anniversary year and he was a Walmart exclusive. I have no recollection of where I got mine, but I know damn well it wasn’t at Walmart because the Walmarts here never get any Hasbro or Mattel exclusives. Yes, they are so exclusive that even their own stores don’t carry them! It’s also worth pointing out that he is a repaint of Onslaught, a figure I never did see on the shelves and do not have in my collection. At the time I was going through my “only by one of each mold” phase. Hardhead is an Ultra Class, which means he’s slightly bigger than a Voyager and has some electronic bells and whistles, however, the batteries in mine are dead, so the electronics are a mystery. I seem to recall some kind of siren. Anyway, let’s kick things off with his alt mode.



I think this is supposed to be some kind of SWAT style six-wheeled APC. It’s the sort of vehicle that crashes through the walls of Meth Labs and the like. The big difference is that this one has a turret with two cannons on top giving it a more military vibe. G1 Hardhead was, of course, a Cybertronian tank so this alt mode is a bit of a stretch but I guess it sort of works in that they’re both armored vehicles. Despite the dubious link to the original figure, this is a big, chunky and fun vehicle and I’m rather fond of it. The sculpt isn’t as detailed as some of the better Transformers molds, but you do get some little hatches and rivets here and there. The front features a wicked looking set of ramming claws and the turret does turn. Alas, the gun barrels have a habit of falling out if you look at them funny, but they do plug right back in.


The thing that most collectors tend to either love or hate is the giant shield that clips onto the top of the vehicle and looks like exactly that: A giant shield on top of the vehicle, complete with cheesy artwork that we’ll get to in a little bit. You can leave it off if you think it looks goofy, but I think it’s fun and sometimes I don’t mind a little goofy in my toys when there’s a reason for it. I will, however, concede that it looks better on the Onslaught toy, probably because it’s more uniform with the deco.


In robot mode, Hardhead is all business. It’s pretty obvious to me this guy started life as a Decepticon and between the head sculpt and the gun barrels rising up behind his back, the Onslaught homage is strong one. The clawed shoulder armor and powerful legs give him a formidable appearance, and yet he still manages to pull off a clean and well-proportioned robot form. I dig how all six of his wheels wind up down on his legs and the windshield from the APC is worn across his chest. The individual rivets sculpted into his legs are a nice touch!



However, Hardhead is not without a few design flaws. I’m not a fan of the exposed compartments in his forearms. Also, it really irks me when Hasbro designs a figure so that the exposed screws wind up on the front, rather than concealed in the back. I’ve seen it on several figures and oddly enough it’s usually on the shoulders. Lastly, the knees on this figure have always befuddled me. They’re supposed to angle out, but the one on the right always seems to want to angle out more. You can lock them flush with the leg by tucking the corner behind the plate, but this probably isn’t very good for the plastic. I wish the design was a little more deliberate on what was supposed to happen here. Of course, none of these gripes are enough to ruin what is still a really fantastic looking figure. And he definitely reminds me of something… what is it?


Oh yeah, I’m getting a major Gundam vibe off this guy, particularly when you attach his shield. The shield pegs in to his left arm, but it does so rather awkwardly on the back side of his forearm. As a result he can only wield it with his arm spun around and facing straight down. It looks good, but doesn’t give you a lot of options vis-à-vis articulation. It’s clearly designed to look like a SWAT riot shield and again, I think it plays better on the Onslaught toy than it does here. There is, however, one thing that saves it and that’s where the cheesy art comes into play. There’s a Decepticon logo printed on it with a crudely painted line through it and Hardhead’s seven kills are scored below it. I love this concept a lot, which is why I’m willing to forgive the awkward placement of the shield in vehicle and robot mode.




Hardhead doesn’t have a hand gun, but he does have a gun that folds out of his right arm. I think it would have been cool if his back cannons could have been angled forward to his shoulders, but they are fixed on his back.


Hardhead is one of those figures that has jumped quite a bit on the secondary market. It’s not uncommon to see him hit the $75 mark, but if you’re willing to go $50 you might have some luck. He’s definitely a stand out figure for me and while the mold was certainly constructed with an Onslaught homage in mind, I still like this repaint a lot. You can’t have all the bad-ass armored death wagons aligned with the Decepticons, right? The Autobots need some heavy hitters to even the odds. And in that regard, I think the name was a good choice, even if the homage to Hardhead really isn’t there. Either way, I almost always have this guy out on display, and when you consider how many TFs I have in drawers waiting for their turn for some shelf time, that’s a pretty high honor. Right now he’s hanging out on one of my Generations shelves with Sandstorm and Springer and they look like they are about to tear some shit up!

Transformers Reveal The Shield: Solar Storm Grappel by Hasbro

I’m almost through the Deluxe Class figures I picked up from this series, but rather than finish them off, I thought I’d jump over to the one big guy. He’s one of the Voyager Class toys in this series and he’s none other than Solar Storm Grappel.

Whaaa? Yeah, just like Turbo Tracks, Hasbro seems to have mislaid the copyright to the name Grapple. Fair enough, but where the hell they came up with Solar Storm Grappel is beyond me. Again, it’s just a name on a box so I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. It’s enough to know that he’s a repaint/remold of Generation Inferno, just like the G1 Grapple toy was a repaint/remold of G1 Inferno.  I’m not terribly keen on the decision to go with making Inferno/Grapple as Voyager toys because I think they turned out a little too big to fit in comfortably with the other Classics, although as Deluxes I think they would have been too small. Too bad there wasn’t something inbetween. As with all the Voyagers in this line, the figure comes boxed in his robot mode, but I’m going to start with his vehicle mode.
As expected, Grappel is a yellow boom crane with some hazard stripes painted on the sides. He looks really good as Hasbro did a great job designing this vehicle form to work well as both crane and fire truck. The crane is fully articulated and even extends. There are still a few slight issues with locking all the panels together. I realize this could just be my own sucky transforming skills, but truth is I can rarely ever get either toy to completely line up and lock together perfectly. It’s not a big deal, but still worth mentioning. With the exception of the boom crane replacing Inferno’s water cannon, none of the other changes to the mold are evident in Grappel’s vehicle mode. Lots of crazy detail and the use of clear plastic really makes this vehicle stand out on the shelf!
Transforming Grappel is identical to changing Inferno. It’s fairly simple for a larger toy, but there are some clever things at work here. The way the side panels for the cabin all fold away neatly behind his shoulders is particularly nifty. There is definitely some very clever engineering at work here.
In robot mode we can now see some of the tinkering Hasbro did with the Inferno mold. Grappel’s forearms are rounded instead of squared off and he obviously has a brand new head sculpt, which is faithful to the original G1 character. These changes are all great, but it’s the crane hanging off the side of his arm that bugs me about Grappel. There’s so many other things Hasbro could have done to make this right without having to effect the mold hardly at all. Most easily, have it removable so you can peg it onto his back or something. Either way, this is a really lazy design that we’ve seen with crane Transformers in the past. The crane is intended to come protrude down his arm like a weapon. I find it a little less cumbersome to fold it back so it’s pointing away from his hand. Either way, it’s a giant albatross on what is otherwise a great looking figure.
I’m still really digging on this toy, warts and all. He’s a solid homage to the G1 character and a logical reuse of the Inferno mold. I still think the large size makes these guys feel a little out of place amongst the other Classics, particularly when displayed with a figure like Classics Optimus Prime, but maybe I just need to get used to it. If it weren’t for the crane arm, I could love Grappel a lot more, but as things stand Inferno remains my favorite of the pair.

Transformers Universe 2.0: Targetmaster Cyclonus with Nightstick by Hasbro

It’s Friday, and that means it’s Transformers Classics week is just about up. I’ve got time to throw in one more figure before calling it quits so let’s take a look at the only Targetmaster to be released in the line so far: Cyclonus with Nightstick. He’s definitely a figure that needed an update badly as the original toy was pretty rough, at least in his robot mode. He was one of those new designs from the 86 movie with a rounder, more organic look that just could not be done justice in the old toy line. I know I had plenty of fun playing with him as a kid, but now it’s tough to look back at his original toy without cringing. How did the Universe 2.0 version treat us? Let’s find out…



Cyclonus came carded in his space cruiser mode, so let’s start there. The roots of the ship design are certainly on display here, but it’s clear that a lot of sacrifices had to be made in order to help the transformation along. It’s not quite as sleek as the original toy design. You get a lot of disjointed hinging and segmentation and that retracting nose cone is particularly unsightly. The back half of the body doesn’t lock together and when viewed from the back it’s just downright f’ugly. That all having been said, I think they did the best with what they had, and if sacrifices had to be made, I’m glad they did it in the alt mode and not the robot mode. On the upside, Cyclonus has a hinged set of front landing gear and a socket in the top so you can plug in Nightstick and give him some extra firepower.



The conversion process is pretty simple and yet very clever. I really like the way the entire nosecone assembly folds away into the torso. The engineering in the legs is very cool as well. He’s lots of fun to transform and not at all overly complicated.



In contrast to the alt mode, Cyclonus’ robot form is excellent and very close to his animated counterpart. He hits all the points of the character’s great design elements. I love that Hasbro managed to remain faithful to the sleeker and more organic contours of the 86 movie look, which is something the G1 toys could never properly replicate. On the downside, I’m not sure what Hasbro was thinking for the colors here. The blue seems way too dark and the bare grey plastic doesn’t look that great. It’s passable enough for the wings, but the unpainted face just looks cheap and unfinished. That’s a shame because the sculpt of the portrait is great and the light piping in the eyes is particularly effective.


Cyclonus has all the articulation you could want in an action figure. His head rotates. His arms rotate at the shoulder, have some lateral movement in the biceps, as well as hinged and swivel elbows. His legs are ball jointed at the hips, hinged at the knees and ankles and have swivels in the biceps. One of the greatest things about these updates is that we finally get these characters as fully realized action figures and Cyclonus sure is fun to pose and mess around with.



Nightstick is Cyclonus’ little Nebulon buddy who transforms into a gun/cannon. I loved this idea back in the day and I’m happy to see Hasbro begin including these in the retro-line. It’s a pretty simple transformation, but his robot form looks pretty good for a guy this size. His articulation is actually pretty good too, even if most of it is just there to accomodate his transformation. For some reason, Cyclonus only has a peg hole in his right hand.




Remember what I said about Astrotrain? Well it applies here too. If you don’t have Cyclonus and are looking to pick him up, spend the extra money and get the Henkei version. The colors are excellent and a toy this good really deserves the better paint job, than the unfinished grey parts on this Hasbro version. He’s not as bad a color variation as Astrotrain, though, so that’s saying something. You could also check out the Rodimus and Cyclonus two-pack that Hasbro did as it’s intended to be more a more cartoon accurate deco. Either way, Cyclonus is one of my favorite of all the Classics inspired figures. He looks amazing, has great articulation and is so much fun to play around with. If you don’t have him, get him.



And that wraps it up for Transformers Classics week. I didn’t quite get to all the figures I wanted to get to, but I had a pretty good run at it. I was considering extending through to Saturday just to get a few more posts in, but I’ve got other toys piling up, [Some of which are more Transformers… yay! -FF] so I’m going to just move on and revisit the ones I missed at some point in the coming weeks.

Transformers Universe 2.0 Ironhide and Ratchet by Hasbro

Even as a wee G1 lad, it was tough to wrap my head around what the hell was going on with Ironhide and Ratchet’s robot modes. I can remember seeing these guys on the shelves and wanting them so bad because I loved the characters so much. But then there were those pictures on the box. Could the figures really look like that? How is that possible? Is that really supposed to be their faces? I was never about to risk a chance to get a new Transformer on such a gamble, but one Christmas, my uncle got my the pair of them, and so I finally found out for myself that yes, these guys were all sorts of jacked up.

So, needless to say a lot of us have been waiting for these figures to get a proper update in the G1 style for a very long time. It took Universe 2.0 to do what seemed to be not such a big deal: Turn a van SUV into a decent robot. After all, Hasbro has been able to make passable Transformers out of motorcycles, a biplane, and even a goddamn toaster. How hard could it be to get these guys right? Well, the U2.0 releases come a lot close to getting the job done. These figures still have numerous issues, and I definitely think Hasbro could have done better. Let’s see what we got…

Ironhide and Ratchet are both the exact same figure, save for different head sculpts and coloring, so I’m going to start with Ironhide and then just cover the differences seen in Ratchet.

Ok, so Ironhide isn’t quite a van, he’s more of an SUV. That’s close enough to me and this alt form would be awesome, if it weren’t for the web of cracks and seams running all over his broadsides or a few other noteworthy problems. Ok, this alt form could never have been awesome. The seaming is unsightly as all hell and makes me reconsider my disdain for shell-former designs. I also don’t like the mix between clear windows and painted ones, it looks terrible. Some nice touches include the rambar on the front and “OREGON” on the rear license plate. The original G1 Ironhide figure had a great van mode and horrible robot mode, here we have the reverse. I guess we can’t have both.

Transforming Ironhide is a bitch and a half. There’s a lot of stuff you have to pack into his torso and just about every time I convert him, I’m afraid I’m going to break something. I also find it impossible to convert him without him pulling apart into two halves, so I just consider that part of the transformation, it’s just easier that way.

Ironhide’s robot mode is a mixed bag to say the least. The best thing about him is that he’s finally a humanoid. His head sculpt is also very G1 accurate. I know some don’t dig the powder blue face paint, but it doesn’t really bother me at all. The plate that moves up behind his windshield chest is a brilliant little gimmick and looks great. It feature excellent sculpting and an Autobot insignia. Ironhide is also a pretty stable figure that stands and poses well. So what’s the bad stuff? His shoulders are backwards and show off his unsightly screws. There’s also a problem with his transformation that causes his head to be looking down. There’s apparently a way to fix this by taking the figure apart, but it hasn’t bothered me enough to try. There isn’t a lot of paintwork on this figure, he’s mostly red with some black and grey, but that’s how he should be.

So, let’s take a quick look at Ratchet. The only structural difference in his ambulance mode is the lightbar stuck on top, all the other changes are found in the color scheme. The white and red works really well and I don’t mind the painted windows quite as much on Ratchet as I did with Ironhide. The seaming is still ugly as hell, though. If the license plate reads “H3L PU2” which I can only come away with as meaning Help You Too or perhaps it’s a plea to support Bono. I don’t know.

In robot mode, we see that Ratchet has a nice new head sculpt, which again is a very good likeness of the G1 character. Like Ironhide, Ratchet has the same plate that comes up behind his windshield chest, this time painted black but with the same Autobot insignia. He unfortunately suffers from the same reversed shoulder pieces, showing off his awesome unfinished screws. Apart from that, his deco works really nicely. I’m not a big fan of figures molded in white plastic, but Ratchet seems to be an exception. He just pops.

Both figures have weapons that can store underneith their SUV modes, between their rear wheels. These weaposn can be converted into a gatling gun looking weapon or a small bladed energon dagger.

Despite the shitty vehicle modes and a bunch of issues with the robot modes, I still can’t bring myself to dislike these figures. Granted, they spend ZERO time displayed in their alt forms. I’m just happy enough to have G1 versions of the characters in somewhat decent robot modes. If you’re fans of these characters or are looking to complete your updated Autobot ranks, I defintely recommend picking them up. If you don’t give a crap about Ironhide and Ratchet, than I would definitely skip this pair.

Transformers Universe 2.0: Rodimus Prime by Hasbro

I am not a big fan of Rodimus Prime. Hot Rod was ok. Every kids series needs a young, cocky, hell-for-leather guy that the kids can relate to as he learns life’s lessons about being responsible. Rodimus, on the other hand, was just a whiney douchebag who didn’t deserve to lead the Autobots. I mean, seriously, Matrix, you got Ultra Magnus standing there, who’s name alone should qualify him for the job[Not to mention he’s Robert F*cking Stack!! -FF] but instead we give it to the kid. The figure, on the other hand, has always been pretty cool, so let’s see how Rodimus fared in his Universe 2.0 update…

Roddy’s vehicle mode is as close to perfect as I could hope to see. Yeah, he doesn’t have his trailer, but he’s a Deluxe, so I wasn’t expecting it. The colors are perfect and the flame decos are beautifully applied. Very sharp and nice looking. The silver on the engine, wheels and side piping really looks great. I also love that his windshield is translucent. It looks much better than if it were painted. Rodimus’ gun stores under him, between his back wheels. You can plug his flame missile in to make it look like he’s spewing fire out of his exhaust. Nice. The vehicle holds together beautifully and rolls along really well.

In robot form, Rodimus looks mighty good. His design is very close to the original G1 character and the colors are still pretty much spot on perfect. The flames on his chest are applied with precision, as is the paint on his face. The light piping is also really effective on this figure giving him nice glowy blue eyes. So, yeah he looks great, but, there are a bunch of little issues that nag me about this guy. The sculpted engine piece on his chest runs up a little too high and obscures the bottom of his face a bit. I’m not sure if this is making the head look too small, but it does seem smaller than it should be.

I also have some issues with his articulation. The head rotates. His shoulders roate, and offer a very little bit of lateral movement. I absolutely HATE his elbow joints, which are just hinged on the end and look terrible. His legs at the hips have universal movement, but the plates that hang off his hips interfere with these joints a lot. Finally, his knees and ankles are hinged. You can definitely get Rodimus into some nice poses, but a little better design would have gone a long way with improving his articulation.

I think the reason I am so picky about this figure is because it really is so close to being perfect in a lot of ways. The headsculpt is almost perfect, but it needs to be bigger. The articulation is good, but the elbow joints are an abomination. It seems like almost every up has a down. Still, he’s a fine figure and well worth picking up, even if you’re like me and aren’t a fan of the character. Afterall, Galvatron needs somebody to kick around.