Legacy Leader Blitzwing Review

So, the various CHUG lines (oral joke goes here) have been going strong in Transformers since 2006 and the triple changers have mostly been meh. For every Thrilling 30 Springer, there have been about a dozen Titans Return Broadsides. OK, that’s a bit hyperbolic, but nothing has come close to the aforementioned Wrecker leader, save his re-tool Sandstorm, since the line started. Especially on the Decepticon side. Of course, some compromises have to be made for getting 3 modes for the same price as two, but I always the con ones felt more compromised than others right up until Siege/Earthrise Astrotrain. While still nowhere near the greatness of Green Han Solo of the 30th Anniversary, it looked great, transformed well and felt worth the wait…if not the price. Leader money for a Voyager with a box? Hard to swallow but just edged it. So when Legacy Blitzwing got announced, I was ecstatic. Finally, THE Decepticon triple changer gets a toy that will do him justice.

And what did we get exactly? A decent voyager two with TWO boxes. Woo.

OK, so that is a bit disingenuous as I do think this is a solid choice for a none-Masterpiece/Third Party Blitzwing, especially that robot mode.  And yes there are compromises but I do think it edges out his previous efforts. Though with the Thrilling 30 Blitzwing and his wank shoulders, horrible transformation, weak alt forms and general flimsy build, that isn’t hard. But this is just wonderful. The paint, the face detail, the stance and the silhouette are absolutely 100% Blitzwing.

That said bot mode does have an issue with articulation. Though he has most of the ones we’ve come to expect from the latest CHUG lines (ankles, waist etc), his shoulder cannot move far at all. There are flaps at the pauldrons that let him extend it straight ahead, but he can’t put his arms far back at all due to his backpack and there’s no ability to put his arms over his head at all due to the aforementioned shoulder with don’t feature any rotation. You can still pull off a decent pose but he won’t be “raising his hands in the air like he lacks caution” as the kids say.

Accessories wise old Blitzo (the o is silent) comes with two guns and a very nicely painted sword which all have good storage on his back in bot mode. Oh, but what are you getting for your extra Leader price point? Two boxes with red liquorice sticking out. These are dumb. Very dumb. You put these Energon Fists on his hands and he looks about ready to take on Spongebob in a karate match.

Moving on from these stupid things in a hurry, transforming him into his other modes is fairly complex without crossing over into the realm of complicated or fiddly. It’s fun to do which I think is essential for a triple changer, though as with many of his three-way brethren, one mode always looks worse than the others. And as usual with Blitzkrieg, it’s the jet mode.

OK, honestly I don’t think it looks too bad. Yeah, it’s as aerodynamic as a wet sack of hammers, but it looks quite close to his original G1 toy jet mode. It’s very squat and solid looking. If this thing did get off the ground with the assistance of magic, I doubt enemy anti-air fire could dent it.

You can stick the Energon mitts on the back as boosters if you hate yourself.

Tank mode though? Far better.

I honestly think this is the best-looking take mode we’ve gotten for Blitzy Mc Blitzwing. Yes, it has a jet cockpit sticking out the front, not unlike his G1 toy, but everything else? Wonderful. Lovely detailing on the side armour and treads, a turret that can spin AND raise its barrel? On a Blitzwing? WHAT IS THIS WITCHCRAFT? Plus the Energon oven gloves don’t look too bad when adapted into the missiles racks for this mode. So yeah, the tank is the better of the vehicles.

That said, does it edge out the previous effort? Titans Returns? Or rather the superior Japanese Legends version that didn’t have those fucking awful stickers? If you had to twist my arm, I’d say yes, but in fairness, let’s do a quick comparison.

Bot modes. I think Legacy edges it, but going by size I can see why people would find that hard to believe. Yes, Legacy is smaller, but the plastic is far more solid. He feels like a wall compared to Legends, which dues to his design and transformation always felt a little lighter than he should to me. Close one and I can see people landing on either side but for me it’s legacy.

Jet modes. The Legends toy wins this hands down. I mean…just look at them. No contest so I won’t waste more words. NEXT.

Tank modes. I gotta had it to Legacy here. The tank mode always felt off to me for Legends, mainly as you have nowhere to store the head in this mode and that weedy barrel, it never felt or looked tough enough to be a tank. More like a very crap mobile support gun with terrible crew protection.   Legacy though? Looks great despite the cockpit and feels well put together. I feel like I could chuck this thing and it would dent a wall.

So yeah I like Legacy Blitzwing and I think this is his best CHUG toy, all things taken into account. He doesn’t quite get to Siege Astrotrain’s level and the gap between him and T30 Springer is more of a chasm, but a solid effort.

Legacy Voyager Bulkhead Review

So been a while since I did a “proper” review. I’ll be honest I just couldn’t be bothered with the whole “think up jokes for images that tend to be the same over and over again” schtick. But I do want to start again so let’s just see where this goes alright?

And to that let’s have a look at Legacy Bulkhead.

When Hasbro announced they’d be bringing non-G1 characters to G1 I was pleasantly surprised. I hope the rumoured Prime Knock Out is true because his original toy is shite. I was less enthused about Bulkhead as I had recently acquired the Prime 1st Edition from a friend for the princely sum of absolutely fuck all. But I got a bonus from work so I thought I’d pick him up as everyone was going on about how good he is, and you know what? He’s pretty good! But not without flaws.

As a G1 interpretation of the character, it works…to a point. Legacy’s whole schtick is MULTI-DIMENSIONAL SHENANIGANS, which has always been kinda a thing for the franchise, or at least the convention stuff. Anyway, for Bulkhead that beans he becomes less round, squarer. And while it does work…it also feels like he’s become a generic bot. The only thing that screams “PRIME” about him is the head sculpt, with the trademark orthodontist frightening underbite. You could honestly just have put any head on this body, slapped an under-utilised name on it and I would have bought it as pretty much anyone.

But hey, it works, and the accessories are fun enough. Generic gun, “riot shield” and Bulkhead’s trademark hand-mace thing. He’s got a great amount of articulation, which is one thing he has over the 1st edition in spades. Bonus is they look pretty damn good next to each other.

The transformation is more involved than I thought it would be. I saw the design and thought “That’s gonna be an “ Optimus Prime alike,” in that the legs become the back and the arms tuck into the cab. And while that is mostly true, the leg transformation is far more involved than I suspected. It s fun to go back and forth with, and you can keep the canopy/shield on his back during the entire thing.

The truck mode is neat, very military-esque and square. Again, kinda generic but very serviceable. I do like how you can store the weapons in the back. Good weapons storage is always a plus for me.

Overall, I do like Bulkhead, despite the flaws. I think he works better on my mixed Wreckers shelf (which contains a couple of non G1 guys) than Prime Bulks. I can sorta imagine this guy as mid-war Wreckers member Bulkhead, all tooled up, ready to crush some Cons. Whereas Prime Bulkhead is a post-war Bulkhead. He’s let himself go a little sure, but still a mound of muscle…or whatever robots have for muscles. Hydraulics?

He also looks great with RTS Lugnut in a fight scene.

There’s a “grabbing balls” joke here but that joke is a bit low brow. Which reminds me! Here’s a mini-review of a Quintesson judge I picked up for £5.

It looks like a butt-plug.

Studios Series 86 Voyager Hot Rod

Been a while since I did a review, and to be honest, part of it was trying to getting the mood, but the other was getting a toy since Kingdom Cyclonus that I wanted to talk about. Like it’s not that I haven’t gotten some great toys since then. Kingdom Beast Wars Megatron, Dinobot, Airazor Earthrise Prime, Studio Series 86 Grimlock, but I just couldn’t find anything I wanted to say apart from “they are really good and I like them.”  Hell, I even just considered slagging of Earthrise Arcee, but everyone’s done that. And figuring out how to do all that funnily, with jokes that I haven’t done before or weren’t just too obvious sucked the fun out of it.

But then came Studio Series 86 Hot Rod which the ENTIRE GODDAMN FANDOM WOULD NOT SHUT UP ABOUT and then I bought him and here we are.

By Unicron’s silly beard is this guy just amazing

I initially skipped him in favour of Scourge because, well, Decepticons, but I got some spare cash and went “why not!” OK, Hot Rod is not one of my favourite characters, but I liked him well enough. Rodimus Prime…not so much. Partly because of just how whiny he was as a leader, and how he never got any real character development apart from “hey you’re the chosen one now, good luck with that.” I’ve owned a few of his toys, It wasn’t until IDW’s More Than Meets The Eye that I started appreciating.  The arrogant goofy dickhead who genuinely thought he was hot shit and then had everything come crashing down around his ears, to get quasi-replaced by Megatron on his ship and THEN he builds himself back up. Brilliant. I’ve got his Titans Return toy and it was good enough for me to bund that on the Lost Light crew shelf, without having to spend more money than I was willing on a third-party version.

All that being said when I this guy, I was kinda stunned by just how pretty he is in bot mode. And when I got him out of the box…just…well when you start singing a character’s theme tune while holding his toy you know you’re on to something special.

Now I could wank on about how well articulated he is, how people have compared him to the Masterpiece version and how he’s come on top, but I think there’s something that needs to be addressed. Please look at the following picture. On the left, the Studio Series 86 Voyager, a £33 toy. On the right, the Titans Return Deluxe, which cost £17 when it was released. Can you see where I’m going with this?

Yes they are essentially the same size. Now some people will moan about how this guy isn’t bigger than a toy half his price. However, even a cursory glance will show that the Studio Series Voyager has gone to more detailed sculpting, more paint applications and better articulation…and then there’s all the stuff he comes with and can do!

Not only does he come with a Matrix, effect part for said Matrix, two guns, his buzzsaw and the flame blast effects. On top of that his left hand also turns into the blowtorch he used to fix Kup in the movie. And you can open his head and flip-down a visor!

I have NO IDEA why this excites me so much but it does. He’s bloody packed with stuff. Couple that with the aforementioned articulation and gorgeous paintwork, he’s well worth the £33. And that’s before we get into the beautiful transformation! Where, for the first time, we get him doing the twisty arm thing he did in his first transformation in the movie!

And God does the car mode look good. Yes he us smaller than his TR counterpart but it just looks beautiful thanks to all the extra sculpting and paint work.

Honestly, if you were considering skipping this guy, don’t. He’s frankly the best toy in the SS86 toy line so far, and definitely in the top five figures of the year so far for me anyway. All this for the guy who for so long was thought of as the Transformers version of Scrappy-Doo. Amazing.

War for Cybertron: Kingdom Voyager Cyclonus Review

Oh boy, it’s another mainline Cyclonus figure! That makes this his…sixth. Really? And that’s barely counting Armada. Wow, no love from the bosses from Hasbro huh? Though considering his boss in fiction is the legendarily loopy Galvatron I guess he’s used to it. He’s the Kif Kroker to Galvatron’s Zap Brannigan, but not a complete pushover.

Robot mode is a tall glass of…plastic. One of the first thing’s you’ll notice about old Circle Wind here is that he is much larger than a lot of voyagers over the past few years. He towers over all the other Siege/Earthrise voyagers and even comes up to match a few leaders…whatever the hell that size class is these days. Though maybe “size class” is the wrong way to think about the various price points. They don’t mean just “the big one” anymore, but that’s a discussion for another time.

While I usually like a darker shade of purple on my Cy-guys, I gotta admit this lavender works well. The only place I didn’t like it was on his Decepticon badge, which was a bit too light and quasi-blended into the chest piece. This is why I stuck a silver-backed reprolabel on, just makes it pop a bit more.

One great thing is even at his size at a voyager is that he hasn’t lost anything in the articulation department. Wrists, ankle rockers, waist, the whole shebang, allowing him to bust out some great poses. Due to the transformation, even the knees can pull off a decent double bend, though because of said transformation where the thighs compress into the legs, it can leave a huge gap inside his calves. Putting that aside, this is the most articulated Cyclonus I own outside of MMC’s Boreas, and even then, it’s probably a tie. I love how poseable his neck is, it’s got a load of motion which allows him to look down on his other mainline toys with disdain.

Transformation to jet mode is fun, featuring a rotating cockpit and a telescoping nose cone that doesn’t involve sliding a piece of plastic out of the end and seeing it hang limply like a depressed banana. And it comes out looking the sleekest of any Cyclonus out there.

Of course, this is mitigated somewhat if you do the weapon “storage”

Christ does this look good, there are no awkward gaps like the Classics, no obvious robot kibble as the Combiner Wars guy, it just works. Hell, I think it looks better than some of the masterpiece third party guys out there.

Overall Cyclonus is a great toy, the minor issues I have are just that minor, namely, I wish he had large shoulder pads, the aforementioned washed out Decepticon logo, and his cavernous calves at certain angles, otherwise, brilliant and well worth a purchase.

Planet X Pluto (Fall of Cybertron Megatron) Review

Who loves Fall of Cybertron? Most Transformers fans, I guess. But do you love it enough to have bought it 4 times on different platforms? No? Then you’re a fully functioning human being who makes good decisions with their money!

I mean if you’re reading this you probably spend way too much on plastic robots but hey whatever.

Anyway, While War for Cybertron (WfC) was a decent, Fall of Cybertron (FoC) took the groundwork, turned it up to 11 and gave us not only a great Transformers game but a great game overall. However, both games gave some great character designs that translated into pretty blah toys. I mean not as bad the first few years of Bayverse toys, but still pretty meh Yeah some were decent, such as the Megatron and Optimus Prime WfC, but the majority of them turned out pretty bad, such as Grimlock. It took third party Planet X to take that brilliant in game design and translate it to plastic, at a lower end Masterpiece price, but it was worth it, being my favourite Grimlock and third-party toy of all time, as seen in my review.

Gratefully Planet X didn’t stop there and have done plenty of other characters, though it seems it’s been a little hit and miss. But when I saw they did a toy of Megatron in the form of Pluto, I knew that would be my second purchase from them. It took a while but he’s finally here, in all his “Soundwave used a thunderstone on him” glory.

So here we have Pluto in all his spiky glory. Word of warning? Those pointing bits ain’t for show, especially the ones on his back. They hare very sharp and I cut myself a few times on him, so be warned.

So yeah this is a pretty damn good rendering of FoC Meg’s upgraded form. And while I love the moulded details, paint and full set of articulation, he isn’t as solid as Vulcun. He’s not badly made, but his joints aren’t as tight as I’d like and his centre of balance is a bit harder to find thanks to how his legs expand to become the front of his alt-mode (specifically the weird heel). However, he can stand and when he is posed, he ain’t gonna fall over. I dunno, it’s hard to describe adequately. He doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy, but there is a certain lack of density to him that Vulcun had.

But hey that is a minor quibble because he still looks fantastic, especially when you bring in his massive purple sword. Every Megatron should have a sword rather than the flail. Yes, there are arguments to be made for a flail as a valid weapon, but swords always seemed more practical to me. Even ones like this that would give Cloud Strife a bit of trouble to lug around.

And God I love the fusion cannon here. It’s massive but doesn’t get in the way of the shoulders and the purple plastic at the core looks great on a camera flash. Be nice if it lit up, but not a deal-breaker.

Transforming Pluto is simpler than you might expect, but still fiddly. While it doesn’t feature anything like Vulcun’s “you need to BEND this bit and hope it doesn’t break” tail transformation, it doesn’t feel rather floppy until you’re finished up. But once you do get it done, it’s solid and looks fantastic.

This is very accurate to the game model…but at the same time doesn’t scream “tank” to me. I mean, it IS a tank. I know that, and it looks very cool and deadly and sharp, but I dunno. Something about it doesn’t quite work 100% and I’m not sure why. Maybe using the weapon storage for the sword will help.

Yeah, that is dumb but …it also works. I dunno it weirdly adds something while making the whole thing look sillier. Weird.

One thing I will mention about tank mode. Obviously, the arm cannon becomes the main gun. That’s a given.  And when finishing him up you have a port that the peg that holds the cannon on his arm in robot mode can go in. DO NOT USE THAT PEG. While it holds it securely, it is WAY too secure and becomes a nightmare to pull out. Every time I did this, I thought the peg would break. Instead, just let the tabs on the gun and the…I guess “cockpit” section holds it in. It’s still solid as hell and less chance you’ll break it.

I do like Pluto but he isn’t at the same level of Vulcun. I mean Planet X fucking hit it out of the park with that, so it would be a tough act to follow. Still, if you want an FoC Megatron, it’s your only option, and as a bonus, it’s a solid figure, despite and thanks to its oddities. However, be prepared to fork out more for the rest of the line unless you want him to overshadow your other FoC figures.

Earthrise Voyager Snapdragon Review

Everyone has their favourite characters. Oh sure, everyone likes the big guys. Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee, Soundwave and so forth. But then when you get deep into a fandom, you might find a more obscure character. Maybe it’s a one-shot guy who died nobly, ala Scrounge in Marvel, or maybe they are part of a particular niche you like. Guys like Spinister, Scoop, etc. They may not be big names but there’s some personal connection there. Perhaps nostalgia for when you were a kid and they were one of the few Transformers you had that weren’t your older cousin’s hand-me-downs.

Snapdragon is none of those things for me. He barely had a role in the G1 cartoon (though almost murdering Daniel comes close), did fuck all in the comic and I never owned him as a kid. And yet, he was one of my most anticipated Earthrise releases, and more than that, I’m incredibly satisfied with him.

ANYWAY. So why is Snapdragon so good for me? Well, he’s a Decepticon triple changer with a healthy amount of black and purple, turns into a sci-fi version of one of the greatest aircraft ever created and a reptilian mode right out of some Ray Harryhausen/Toho Kaiju mashup.

Oh, and he’s far superior to his mate Apeface.

In bot mode, he’s got a good amount of articulation, including a full waist swivel. He’s only really limited in three areas. His head, due to being the Head/Titanmaster Krunk, has no up or down movement at all.  His wrists lack a swivel due to them transforming into another mode’s feet and a bit of movement in his elbows. This possibly could have been mitigated by being able to extend his arms a little to allow clearance of his arm kibble. But sacrifices had to be made for this guy to make the modern voyager price point. Aside from that, he’s an all-singing, all-dancing, dual purple gun-wielding murder-boy.

But before he can kill, he has to get there. And by turning into a very sci-fi rendition of an SR-71 Blackbird, he’s gonna get there faster than anything.

I mean, there’s not much to say here, but that this thing looks like it could break the sound barrier and not bother to offer to pay for the repairs. The SR-71 is one of my favourite planes of all time, but I could never bring myself to buy the various movie Jetfire versus off it (look I like some movie designs but old man Jetfire never worked for me) and the TR Overlord was too simple of a transformation to mess with due to being an oversized duo-con. This though? Lovely. The details are great and I love the little cockpit controls you have for Krunk.

But when he gets to the battle, what better way to commit multiple monstrous murders than to do it as a giant lizard?

And things get more murder with his second mode, a dragon/dinosaur thing.

OK so technically this is Snapdragon’s worst mode. His articulation extends to his tiny arms, his legs,  a bit of neck movement and his torso doesn’t tab as securely as I would like…but I don’t care. He looks fantastic. And getting him to this mode is probably the most fun. How the fuselage becomes his tail and how you plug the titans master into the top of the dino head to great the lower jaw. Ok yes, it’s not the most cohesive head ever, but it works. Can’t you just see this thing being driven by an evil Power Ranger?

So yeah. Snapdragon is good. Buy him. No higher praise I can give really. And as a bonus, it makes that Apeface you bought worth it since they look really good together.

Earthrise Leader Doubledealer Review

It took me a while to figure out how to start this review. Mainly because I’m out of practice. Usually, I would talk about the character for a bit and make a joke, but honestly? Doubledealer is kind of a non-entity. He’s had precisely three toys in his thirty years, and the previous one to this was a repaint of the worst Blitzwing toy. I owned it, cos I like the character’s concept. A mercenary playing both factions? That’s a fun idea. However, that toy was godawful. So as soon as this new version got announced I sold it on. Good luck with those shoulders whoever the hell I sold it to!

Thing is, aside from the concept there’s pretty much fuck all to know about Doubledealer. His most prominent role is in the Japanese Masterforce cartoon, and that’s not even him! He’s a suit of armour of a blue-haired orphan with an inferiority complex.  And then we had him in IDW where he got beaten by a magic 8-ball (who later turned out to be one of the Transformer’s gods…sort of, but still).

But after all that I just decided to sit down and write because I need to get this done and back into writing as a whole.

So, we have the first “proper” leader of the Siege/Earthrise line. Ok yes, we had Astrotrain, Prime, Shockwave etc, but they were Voyagers with bits of armour or boxes. While there’s a little bit of that with Doubledealer because of his accessories, but he has enough mass to him to feel like a leader class. His bot mode is rather lovely, featuring colours you don’t see much in the franchise melded together to make a brick wall of a robot armed to the gills with weaponry and a good amount of articulation to boot. Hell, he even has wrist swivels. The only real point of contention elbows could have done with being tighter, as there are many reports he can barely hold his giant gun. Mine can hold it fine in his right arm, but not the left.

As for his gimmick, well it works. See way back in the far-off year of 1988, Doubledealer had three modes. An autoboot robot mode, a Decepticon bird mode, and a “neutral” ICBM launcher mode (which is a weird way to describe a mobile nuke launcher). Those were accessed by his two Powermaster partners, a Decepticon bat and a Not-Rumble/Frenzy. Since you know, complicated parts like that would probably make this guy cost like £100 at least in today’s economy, Doubledealer now accomplishes the same with hinges on his shoulders

Yeah, I tend to put his as a Con because due to his bulk, colours and weaponry, he doesn’t scream Autobot. And this is even taking guys like Roadbuster into consideration. And I’m glad they did this, allowing him to be a Bot or Con in robot mode rather than his original incarnations way.

Speaking of awkward segues, let’s talk about his Powermaster partners Knok and Skar! Because they’re back! If you shelled out £25+ for a pack of 4 sub-legends class toys because dammit you want Rumble (FIRRIB FOR LIFE!) for your Soundwave.

Yeah, that’s about all you can say. They’re fine for bots that turn into rectangles. Just like the rest of the Soundwave tape guys. Though speaking of Soundwave, Doubledealer managed to steal his schtick, as his chest opens up allowing you to stick one of his little buddies there for storage, or to flip around and display him like a Powermaster. He even features a small engine block which you can stick on little guys pegs for that later 80’s nostalgia. Still it only really works with Knok, as he is the same colour as Doubledealer’s chest since he pretty much was the bot mode chest back then. Also at least on mine Skar seems just that bit too small to fit securely.

As for his other modes. Well, they’re fun! But they’re kind of a pain to get to. Transforming his torso for both modes is fine, but his goddamn legs are annoying. For both modes you have to fart on with his double-jointed knees, positioning them just right so they line up with slots. However getting to vulture mode is the most pain in the arse way, because you have to sort of fold the knees in on themselves so a tab on the bottom of one joint can slide into a tab on the other joint and if you don’t get the knees in just the right position to allow this, it feels like you’re going to break the damn things.

And after all, that, are the results worth it? Kind of!

OK, this is one daft looking vulture, what with the front half of an ICBM launcher hanging off his arse…but it works. I dunno, it’s just stupid looking but weirdly nice at the same time. Sure, his articulation is limited to his toes, wings and head but it’s just a daft piece of fun.

And yes, you can store his missile on his crotch so he has the big bird dick if you want.

As for the ICBM mode, honestly, it’s a great mode in both transport and launcher mode, although the way his head is kinda just sticking out the back looking up makes the disguise a little daft. The rear ramp also allows you to connect him to other Earthrise bases and/or robots who turn into bits of a road for reasons.

I like Doubledealer, despite his problems. Yes, he’s got some loose joints, his transformation is finicky. He’s also technically a partsformer, but I’ve found myself softening on that now as long as it’s done OK and doesn’t involve taking the robot apart and putting it back together again. His concept is a fun one, and I’m glad they went with the robot mode allowing him to have both factions rather than being some sort of weird reverse Punch/Counter-Punch gimmick.