War For Cybertron Siege Starscream Review

Everyone loves a bastard. There’s just something so fun about watching an absolute manipulative git either winning or getting his comeuppance. It’s part of why Starscream is one of the many Decepticons who has permeated the cultural zeitgeist…

OK, I’m sorry for using that term. Let me rephrase it.

Do you think of a conniving little prick who’d sell his own mother for a new job title? If so there’s a good chance you’ll have an image of Starscream in your head.

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Way back in 2002 Transformers Armada got me back into the franchise, and Starscream was one of the standout characters and became one of my favourite Cons. Looking back at his depiction in said show, it’s a very atypical portrayal, what with the whole honour and dying in battle thing. Has a bit more in common with Beast Wars Dinobot than you’d think. After that, it seems most versions of him went back to his G1 roots. And I gotta say I prefer him that way.

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And for the longest time, we’ve never had a good voyager G1 Starscream toy. The old Generations/Classics deluxe is still a decent toy, if starting to show its age, and the recent Studio Series voyager is good, but the only G1 styled voyager we ever got was the Power of the Primes version, which …well I sold it on within a month of buying it so I really can’t be arsed going on about how bad thought it was. It appealed to some and the torso mode for the combiner mode was cool, but everything else was just garbage.

In lieu of being able to have the much better Siege Starscream beating up his POTP variant since I don’t own it anymore, here’s Grimlock singing part of “I Am” from the Shadow the Hedgehog game.

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In a lot of ways, Siegescream looks like he could have jumped off an animation cel. His colours are bright and vibrant, he has the classic seeker chest and the null rays which for the first time since Masterpiece MP11, if I am remembering correctly, can stay attached during transformation (more on that later) He does have a good amount of battle damage with silver and grey paint and I think it works better than on most of the other cons, along with the sci-fi greebles and has a total of eight weapons words. Two on each arm, though most likely one will be permanently fitted with his null rays one, one each leg and one on each wing. I don’t think filling up with guns works as well as say, Megatron, but he does look quite good with the Micromaster Sky Patrol’s combined sword form.

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His articulation is really good, having loads of swivels and tilts to pull off very nice poses. Hell, even his wings have articulation allowing you to angle them. The only place he is let down in comparison to other Siege guys is his waist, as the backpack only allows it to move about 20-25 degrees left or right at a maximum. Still better than we got on pretty much every other G1 Starscream, which have precisely zero (including the bleeding Masterpiece). And he looks fantastic in the air because of it.

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Transforming him to jet mode is fun…to a point. It is fun and fluid…but when you have to move his chest it IS going to pop off, as documented in every other review out there. It’s a widely known issue and has lead to some speculation about it being fixed in a running change, but that turned out to be nought but a rumour. It’s a shame as it’s the only bad bit of a decent transformation. I personally love how his shoulder pauldrons actually end up forming the nosecone of his lovely tetrajet mode.

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I love this mode, despite its…well “flaws” is a strong a word. Perhaps “issues?” Like almost every other jet Transformer ever you essentially fold up the robot underneath the wings. Some people think this guy is a very egregious example, but I don’t really see it. It’s got a much worse problem on the back.

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Yes, that is his chest on his back. I have no idea how else they could have accomplished this look otherwise, but it does look rather silly.

However, this is a very sleek re-imagining of the Cybertronian jet mode. While I do like the other versions that have come before, the Transformers Cybertron and War for Cybertron versions specifically, this looks so much sleeker than those it’s ridiculous.

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Overall Starscream is definitely a great toy and has convinced me to go in for Thundercracker, Skywarp and possibly even Red Wing. He’s got some flaws, but overall he’s another must buy from the Siege line. Lovely robot mode, decent transformation, and an alt-mode that is far better than other versions of the tetrajet

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War for Cybertron Siege Soundwave Review

If you had to push me to select my favourite Transformer of all time, it’d be between four. Megatron, Starscream, Shockwave, and Soundwave. If you really pushed me, I’d be choosing between latter two. Shockwave and Soundwave are those characters that are instantly recognisable in all their appearances. Soundwave, in particular, seems to have one the most enduring characterisations, as outside of some comic issues and the Cybertron anime, he’s one of the most competent and loyal Decepticon soldiers. And you get so few of those it’s no wonder Megatron keeps the guy around and is generally one of the few of his soldiers he won’t smack across the room when they forget his breakfast muffin.

Thus there has been a multitude of Soundwave toys over the years, and they’ve all been quite fun. Adding to this the additional play value of his chest minions, and you get one of the longest-lasting cultural icons in the Transformers franchise.

Which made the wait to get him from Hasbro UK INFURIATING. Especially considering I had his children here for a month waiting for him. But he’s here now, along with Siege Starscream who we’ll get to, but for now, let’s see if he was worth the wait.

The answer is yes.

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Soundwave’s robot mode is probably the best representation of his G1 form at a smaller size class ever. He’s easily recognisable in silly and with his signature square chest and tape deck with gold trim front and centre. There’s not much to dislike here, even if you’re not a fan of the battle damage as it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is Soundwave. The head sculpt is particularly nice, and while I personally like my Soundwaves with red eyes, the light piping here is brilliant. He really does look like an evolution of the original G1 toy, in terms of design if not materials.

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He’s got brilliant articulation as well, but then that does seem to be a staple of the line. As I think should be required of any Soundwave with a chest minions’ gimmick, his arms have enough articulation press his own eject button. And just like the War for Cybertron voyager before him, he has a finger sculpted specifically for this.

Yes, I know this is the War for Cybertron voyager, I meant the voyager from War for Cybertron.

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Accessories wise Soundwave comes with his G1 rifle and his shoulder cannon and as always they look great. But he also comes with a second-hand gun for cool dual-wielding shots. However, it also has another feature. It folds open and you can stick his other weapons on the ends!

It is exactly as stupid as it sounds.

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Speaking of accessories, let’s have a look at the new Micromaster Laserbeak and Ravage, for what is a Soundwave without his minions?

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They’re tiny and fun. Out of the two, Laserbeak is probably the most successful, but then again this is a guy who’s basically transformation hasn’t changed much in 30 years. Legs down, tail up, wings out, head up. The main difference this time around is his more robotic look from the first episode of the G1 cartoon rather than the stylised condor he usually comes as.  As such he’s got precisely four (useful) points of articulation, but as a bird, it works.

Brilliantly, Soundwave has some groves on his arm that allow Laserbeak’s feet to slot right in with a decent grip, allowing him to pose on the arm and this is my default pose for him on my shelf.

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Ravage is…OK. I mean it’s better than a lot of Ravage toys but considering the last couple were the terrible Titan’s Return one and the spring-loaded circular disk thing from the War for Cybertron game Soundwave design that isn’t hard. Due to the budget, he does end up a bit chunkier than your average Ravage, but it works well enough. I get the feeling he’ll end up being the chest filler for Soundwave for a lot of people, myself included

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I’m not going to bother to show their alt-modes because they turn in top rectangles. You can peg them on to Soundwave or other robots use as armour if you are a monster who thinks animals make acceptable meat shields.

Now on to the alt-mode…or the first one. As is well known by now Soundwave has a secret mode, an approximation of his lamp post mode from the first episode of the G1 cartoon. It is daft and I only include it here for this joke:

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Anywho, on to the actual alt-mode.

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Honestly? It’s fine. But it is pretty much a brick with some jet engines on it. I mean, it’s supposed to be a dropship to justify his deploying minion’s thing but I dunno. It’s not bad and certainly fun to swoosh, but it’s just kinda there. I mean the original Soundwave turns into to a rectangle, so I guess it works in that regard. There’s just not much to say about it.

Happily, there are a few fan modes out there that let you turn him into an approximation of a boombox. This is my favourite version.

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So, was he worth it? Honestly, yes. But I am very much a Soundwave fanboy. His robot mode is damn near perfect, he works well with his minions, and despite the alt-mode being rectangle with engines, it’s fun to transform. Worth the wait thanks to horrible distribution? Yes.

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Siege Voyager and Studio Series 38 Optimus Prime Review

So, I’ve done a couple of reviews on my favourite faction’s leader, Megatron, perhaps it’s time to look a the opposition. He’s had a new toy released recently, tied with a very successful take on the Transformers franchise. Probably one of the most successful ones in recent years.

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Actually, I think this is a good way to try something new. DOUBLE REVIEW AND COMPARISON. Let’s have a lot at the two most recent takes on the optimal one. Considering these are probably the best takes on their respective franchises for some time.

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So here we have two takes on the classic Optimus Prime G1 mode, one obviously taking far more cues than the other. Siege Prime is essentially how your ageing brain remembers what your original G1 prime looked like. He does a great job or taking the G1 design and updating it enough to be a fully self-contained robot with modern toy making technology being used to great advantage. He’s also got great proportions, especially in contracts to the other faction leader. Siege Megatron looks like a big bulky bruiser, all upper body strength with his wide barrel-chest, like a wrestler or heavyweight boxer. Prime meanwhile, has a more Mixed Martial Arts frame. The strength is all there, but more evened out. The colours are lovely and vibrant, even accounting for the Siege “battle damage”. And honestly, that head sculpt is the best I’ve seen on pretty much any Prime toy for years. He also has just the right amount of detailing to keep him interesting, unlike some Siege figures where it’s like someone went a bit overboard with the dremmel, such as Shockwave.

As for the rest of his looks, his head sculpt is the quintessential Prime head. It’s just perfect. I can see someone having problems with the short smokestacks, but honestly, you should be used to that by now. The arm kibble is a little annoying, but I’ve seen worse ways to handle it on non-Masterpiece figures and it doesn’t get in the way of his articulation, which like all Siege figures, is fantastic. Full waist, knee, ankle, arm and swivels all over. Accessories wise he comes with his gun and a pretty cool transforming shield/axe. And since he’s a Siege guy he has all the ports for the liens weapons or weaponizers like Sixgun. So you can make Gunimus Prime.

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Studio Series 38 Prime (now SS38 because I can’t be arsed typing the full name constantly) besides the obvious aesthetic differences, does have one advantage over its Siege counterpart. A higher budget. Since the SS voyagers cost more than other voyager sized toys,  they get a bit more to work with. Not necessarily in terms of paint, as this version of Optimus he has a lot more separate parts, a more involved transformation and, and a more sculpted, mechanical detail. And it works wonderfully.

This is what the movies should have been all along if you ask me. Now that’s not to say the other movies designs are bad (well some are) but a lot of them never really felt like their characters. The more skeletal version of prime never really worked for me, mainly cos it took them a long time to work in toy form. Even then the best versions of them always leave a little something to be desired, as the Evasion Mode Optimus from Age of Extinction, while cool still felt off to me. This guy? Oh boy, does he look cool, if a little busy. There is a lot of sculpted detail here. Not as much as some voyagers, but it’s enough to make me think that this could work in a live-action setting, which is entire;y the point. Hell, it even has similar arm kibble to the Siege guy.

He does have a lot more moving parts to him but still has pretty much the exact same amount articulation as the Siege guy. However, since he’s mainly made of panels, stuff gets in the way of each other a lot more than on the Siege guy, especially around the waist. The backpack, while not as noticeable as on  Siege Prime, does actually get in the way of his legs backwards motion as well.

Speaking of the legs, they look skinnier than the Siege’s, they’ve got roughly the same mass because of the wheels. They’re essentially “constructed” from the rear of the truck, rather than being a solid piece with flipping wheels ala other Prime. It’s quite a feat of engineering actually but does make him feel a little less solid in that area.

And that head sculpt! Like, I said the Siege guy has THE quintessential Prime head, but this one is just so bloody nice. With sculpted vents, nice bits of silver detail on his “cheeks” and even has parts of the side picked out as robot-ears. I honestly can’t decide which is better.

Wait, SS38 has longer smokestacks. WINNER.

All joking aside I really do like him. In terms of aesthetics, I’m not a huge fan of the duller colours used compared to the more cartoony Siege prime, but it works in this context.

Accessories wise he comes with a gun. It’s a nice gun. I like it. But there’s not much more I can say about it. It feels more like an actual gun made to look like Optimus’ Ion Blaster. Good, but maybe a smidge generic.

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It might just be me, but he also feels a little more anime-esque, and as such looks are really good next to Maketoys Rioter Despotron I last reviewed.

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Now the transformations on both these guys are fun. They’re both more involved than you think…and I gotta say I prefer Siege’s. It’s relatively simple yes, but it’s fluid. Nothing gets in the way of anything else, and it’s fun. SS38’s has some of the same steps, but you kinda disassemble the whole thing and put it back together to form the truck. It’s not a bad one and is as I said, far more involved than the Siege’s, but it’s more widely because of that, and it’s easy for parts to bump into each other.

Still, when you get right down to it, it becomes a bloody good looking truck.

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These both look great. But let’s face it, the Siege guy is trying to convince you it’s a space truck. I mean yeah you have that hover mode, but it’s a G1 cartoon truck with extra headlights. It’s a good truck mode, but if you want a more realistic one, the Studio Series has it in spades. All those panels that get in the way in bot mod and make the transformation a bit of a faff make one excellent looking truck.

So honestly I like both of these guys. Despite their similarities, I don’t feel daft for owning two flat nose G1 styled voyagers. They bring enough differences to the table that I can enjoy both of them. If I had to choose, the Siege guy would edge it slightly for me due to the brighter colours, and slightly less annoying transformation. But I’m glad I have both. They’re equally good at doing their own thing despite both being very much the Robot Dad we all love.

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Maketoys Rioter Despotron Review

So, since the second wave of Siege is taking a million years to arrive in Britain because Hasbro UK doesn’t understand the basic concept of Supply and Demand, I’m still waiting on my most anticipated figures of the line. So, as I pine about the future, let’s look at the past.

Yes, that was a shit segue and I honestly don’t care.

Six months ago, I purchased this figure. After topping my 2018 purchases list, he is pretty much my favourite Transformer ever. That being Maketoys Rioter Despotron, their re-imagined Megatron. And by re-imagined I mean “someone vomited anime on him.” In a good way.

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While I appreciate this styling, he may not be to everyone’s taste, I do hold a soft spot in my heart for anime mecha designs. Ever since I saw Gundam Wing on Toonami when I was like, 12I’ve watched a few others and really like the designs. Shame most mecha anime is dogshit in terms of writing. Looking at you Aldnoah Zero. But the long legs, wide chest and beefy shoulders make Megatron look tough and deadly. The sculpted details, including robot-abs, add nicely to this. Honestly, this is how I wanted the live-action guys to look like when the movies first came out. G1 with added mechanical details. Honestly, this guy wouldn’t look out of place in an anime or the Bumblebee movie.

I especially like the head sculpt. Again, this isn’t to everyone’s taste, but I love the sculpted vents and additions to the bucket head. And the purple eyes work really well. Nice, they went with something different. In fact, the colours on this are beautiful. The silver plastic gives him a nice body for the more vibrant colours to pop without being too dull itself. Gold, red, black and purple all look lovely from any angle or pose.

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(If you get this joke, I applaud your understanding of how my brain works.)

Speaking of posing, as you can see this guy has articulation in spades. He’s probably the most articulated transformer I own, including Masterpieces. Ab crunch, waist, wrist, ankle, elbow, knee swivels. Ankle tilt, double knee joints, elbows capable of doing a good 150 degrees if not slightly more and hand articulation. He’s a posing beast. Plus, the joints hold up well enough that he can stand on one on leg and support his own weight easily. The only thing that really hinders his posing is the armour on the front of his thighs, which stop him getting his leg up high enough to do the full “Karate Kid” pose, but you can do a half-arsed version with a bit of creative swivelling.

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He does tend to lean ever so slightly towards his right due to the weight of the cannon arm It’s not noticeable in most poses with both feet planted firmly, but it’s something to consider if you are doing a one-legged pose. I mean…I can’t see why you would? But then again I did just for a throwaway movie reference so what do I know?

Size-wise he’s bigger than a Voyager, but not big enough to be a leader or masterpiece. I find him the perfect size to actually play with. As previously mentioned I have some Masterpiece figures, official and third party, but they’re really meant for display and not for playing with, which is why I’ve gone off them recently. But this guy? Honestly, he’s a masterpiece in all but size and you can play with him. OK yes, there’s no metal but there doesn’t need to be. I find myself constantly playing with him six months after purchase and I honestly don’t see that stopping any time soon.

I suppose one place where Masterpieces do outshine him is accessories, as he only really has two. The first is a purple matrix which sits inside his chest. It’s a nice little thing, but it doesn’t really do much.

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The other is a nicely done sword that has the best weapon storage idea ever. It stores INSIDE his cannon!

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In addition to these two “proper” accessories. You can also do some things with the two grey gun barrels on his back. They can mount on the sliding rails on his arm like his fusion cannon, or you can stick them on either end of the cannon itself. I have no idea why you’d want to do this, as it is rather silly.

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Now to top this gushing off, we also have a really fun transformation, lots of nice twists, a smidge of acceptable parts forming and voila! And you get one of the silliest but still awesome Megatron gun modes. Here he is held by a tiny Legends version of himself because humour.

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Not a lot to say about this except I think it looks good, even if it very obvious that it’s a folded up robot. I meant even Siege Shockwave looks less blatant. It’s very sci-fi so again, not to everyone’s taste even if you are away double barrel handguns exist. The only really odd bit is the matrix handing out at the back there, but forgivable.

Honestly, I love this guy.  You should buy him. If you’re interested and live in the UK, Kapow Toys have him in stock for £65 at the time of writing, which I honestly think is a more than fair price for this guy. Go get him.

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Studio Series Bonecrusher

Before the first live-action Transformer movie came out the trailers made it look fantastic, which is the job of the trailer. One of the stand out moments in the trailer was a mean-looking robot rollerblading down a highway, into a bus and then launching himself at Optimus Prime. That robot was revealed to be Bonecrusher, and what you saw in the trailer was pretty much all he did. Well other than demonstrate that the movie-verse Optimus Prime was a face obsessed psychopath. What little personality we got of Bonecrusher was revealed in his bio and it became a short-lived meme. He hates things. Everything. Being alive. Being killed. The bands that you like. EVERYTHING.

Basically, what we have here is Grouchy Smurf as a Transformer.

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The original movie Bonecrusher toy was one of the more successful Decepticons. I mean, that’s damning it with faint praise as pretty much every single 2007 movie toy was various degrees of crap, but it seemed to work even if it was way too small. But this guy knocks it out of the water. While he’s roughly the same height but has more mass and looks far closer to the movie character model. Honestly, I know a lot of his schtick is that he hates what he looks like, but he has a unique look among the Cons.

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In bot mode he’s got a good amount of articulation. Leg swivel, ankle tilts, full 360 at the hips and good spread. He doesn’t have any wrist swivel, but he does rotate at the elbow, which helps him avoid the dreaded gorilla curl, and due to transformation, he can even get an inward curl at his shoulders. Hell, even his fork is pretty well articulated able to stretch over his head. Pretty handy when cleaning.

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There are only really two bits in bot mode I’m not fond of. The first being the head articulation. Due to his design, Bonercrusher’s bonce is sunk into his chest, and his “neck” is just pinned on and barely moves left or right. As shown in these pics his head can tilt so he’s still expressive, but I feel a ball joint there would have done the same thing and allowed a bit more movement? Then again I’m not a toy designer.

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The other part is the obvious vehicle kibble that means I have no idea if I should keep his arms pegged into, or disconnect it as in most of the pics, I think I like the latter, but it does make him feel a little less solid.

Speaking of awkward segues, his alt-mode is very solid.

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Bonecrusher transforms into a buffalo mine clearing vehicle. A vehicle about 99% of people didn’t know existed until the movie. They’re designed to be able to withstand land mines and IEDs and the tall, yet solid build is carried over to Bonecrusher here. It’s a fairly accurate representation too, though the arm is about three times longer than the real vehicle. It is also very beige. The transformation itself seems a bit more complicated than it is at first but overall is fun to do back and forth

The only real articulation here is the Form, which has all the same range of motion as the bot-mode.

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Overall I like Bonecrusher. Some problem’s sure but nothing major and he looks great. The only really annoying thing is that he doesn’t come with any Con symbols in bot mode. Repro-labels to the rescue again.

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Studio Series Thundercracker

So, anybody remember Toys R Us? OK daft question. But does anybody remember what the last Toys R Us exclusive Transformer was? This guy, Studios Series Thundercracker. He arrived just in time to be heavily discounted in the Toys R Us bankruptcy, like literally less than a month later. He became kind of a hot ticket in the US for a bit. Here in the UK? We just looked on at another toy we weren’t gonna get. However, it seems that The Entertainer picked up a load of excess Toys R Us stock as they bunged them in their shops for £17.49. So here we are with a movie Thundercracker who isn’t a repaint of Starscream!

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So yeah he’s a repaint of the really good The Last Knight Nitro Zeus, with all the decent if limited articulation intact. The always fun Thew reviewed him a while ago so I’d recommend checking out his review of it for the info on the original here. So what do we get with the Thundercracker version? A new head-sculpt loosely based on movie Starscream’s, some more paint applications, and an arguably better colour scheme. Nitro Zeus was one of only three toys I got from the Last Knight line and he is one of my favourite movie toys.

So why don’t I like Thundercracker as much as the original?

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Honestly? I think it does come down to his colour choices in some ways. Nitro Zeus may have a rather dull grey and black pallet, but the shade of grey used is weirdly vibrant. He pops a bit, plus his Shockwave fanboy eye with the yellow monocle helps. Thundercracker is very dark in colour. The flash in my camera makes him look far more vibrant than he actually is. He has some Decepticon badges on his wings which are black, but they blend with the blue way too much.   There’s also seems to be degradation in the toy mould, or the type of plastic used for him seems more slippery” than Nitro Zeus’, because all his tabs and tolerances are noticeably looser. For example, his ankles while able to support his weight, were more prone to tipping over if not balanced exactly right. I sorted that out with a quick screw tightening, but there’s also his arm cannon, which likes to slip out a little if you compress it. Not much of an issue as I keep it out for display, but it’s just an example of how he doesn’t feel as solid as Zeus in either mode. His left shoulder pad almost always pops off during transformation and his nosecone un-tabs a lot easier than Nitro’s ever did.

Moving on to the only new piece of the toy, the head-sculpt. It’s supposedly based on an early head for Starscream, less bird and more spider. In fact, to me, it looks like someone took Movie Starscream and Beast Wars Tarantulas and mashed them together. I keep flip flopping on if it works or not.

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As with Nitro Zeus (yeah a running theme huh?), his head also detaches as it is Titan Master compatible, a holdover from an earlier script where the movie character and headmaster Cogman would have taken over Nitro Zeus body at some point. It’s not much use, but hey can be fun for fiddling with your spare Titan Masters and possibly for customs.

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Transformation to jet mode is still fun but hindered a little by the lesser tolerances, and the jet mode itself is fine, but the problems with the blue are exacerbated. There’s some nice G1-esque red and silver on the wings but this really could have used a lighter shade of blue. It would just pop more.

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Honestly, I don’t have much more to say on the guy. He’s a good mould made slightly worse due to tolerance issues and a too dark paint job. I like him, but I’m glad I didn’t pay full price for him.

But hey if they do this in Skywarp colours I am so in!

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Comics

So before I started this blog, I did the odd photo-comic, called Robot Revolt. I plan on doing more but I figured I’d put my first lot up. There are 11 in total and they feature some characters that have popped up in my eyes. Please take note a lot of these came up before I figured out how to do decent speech bubbles. But I can’t be arsed remaking them so here we go!

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#9 (Please note this was written well before Voltron lost it’s shit in the final season.)rr9p1rr9p2rr9p3rr9p4

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