Planet X Vulcun Review

So, I love Grimlock. I mean, how can I not? He’s a tough as nails robot that turns into a fire breathing Tyrannosaurus Rex. While he might have problems speaking, he’s got the personality of a time-bomb stuck on “00:01”, gives authority the finger and could punch out Megatron if he felt like it…at least that’s how I’ve viewed him. This primarily based on his comic incarnations because…well, he’s not got that consistent of a personality across the mediums, has he? He goes from badass yet intelligent barbarian in the comics to downright stupid comic relief in the G1 and animated cartoons. Then in other incarnations, we go to way too upbeat motivational speaker in Cyberverse, slightly smarter dim-witted comic relief in RiD2015 to straight-up goddamn DOG in the live-action movies. And to top it all off I would argue most of his toys aren’t really up to much either. OK, the original G1 toy gets a pass because it was the first, but there’s always been something off with them afterwards. Maybe it’s too small and not really “right” looking in robot mode like his otherwise rather good Classics version, or it’s big and looks right, but is a bit floppy like his Masterpiece version, or it’s just had to sacrifice everything good about it for the line-wide gimmick ala the Power of the Primes voyager. Everything is compromised and just not quite right.

And then we come to the 2012 voyager, based on Grimlock’s appearance in the excellent Fall of Cybertron. Hit by a budget crunch that screwed up probably the best G1 based design in years. It took the old anatomically incorrect G1 mode and ran it through the Jurassic Park filter and I loved it. Plus, they gave him a decently developed personality, some of the best levels in the game and only used the “ME GRIMLOCK” talking when it was appropriate. When a toy was announced I jumped on it. Hell, I still own two versions of that thing because while it is very much a compromised vision, it was the only version of that design I could get my hands on.



Well, I say “until now” but I’ve been after this guy since he came out five years ago. This is when I started getting really into collecting but before I jumped into the “Yeah I can drop over £100 on a toy and justify it to myself” stage of collecting with 3rd Parties. I mean, I had Voyager Grim, he was…fine. If you squinted. But oh man, Vulcun (and it is VulCUN, not VulCAN, check the box) made me salivate. Reviews came up and he looked amazing…but I couldn’t justify the cost. And by the time I could, he was sold out everywhere and a right Vulcunt (geddit?) to get on the second-hand market. It seemed I would never own him. But then Planet X reissued him in 2019!

And he sold out immediately. Bugger.

But then, after my birthday, I was looking at and looked at their flash sale page…and there he was. 2019 reissue Vulcun. At 20% off. And I had just gotten a load of money for said birthday. SCORE! And then literally minutes after I got my order in…he sold out. I had gotten one of the last ones! Yes, the shipping was delayed by a few weeks because of the Coronavirus, but I had waited 5 years!  Another couple of weeks wouldn’t kill me. And when he did arrive, I got a massive shock. See, I had ordered the regular version, as that’s what ShowZ had listed…BUT THEY SENT ME THE ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS METALLIC VERSION.

I may have had a sex wee.


So anyway…he’s phenomenal. Honestly, there are no two ways about it, this guy lives up to the hype and exceeds my expectations. I mean…just look at him. He’s a damn near perfect rendition of the character from the game. OK yes, his head is hanging off his back…but most Grimlocks do that anyway. The detail in the sculpt, is beautiful, accentuated by the metallic paint. And then you factor in the articulation, which has enough bends and swivels so you can get him in pretty much every pose under the sun. And let me tell you, his sheer presence makes even the most mundane stance look amazing.

There are a few little “issues”. Maybe his hands could have done with a separate articulation for his index finger, allowing more expression. Maybe he could have come with a few more accessories as well, but that would have possibly meant his sword and shield would have to be smaller and quite frankly I’ll take weapons longer than a character’s arm over a crown and apron any day of the week.

Possibly the only real issue is his size. See, he costs roughly the same as MP08 Grimlock but…


So yeah there’s that, but in every other aspect, he outshines MP08. I love the Masterpiece but it’s always felt a little…ropey to me. Everything is floppier than it should be, and the way the chest kinda just sit’s on top of a spine assembly and doesn’t feel secure, always let it down. Dino-mode works better and it’s the mode I keep him in most of the time. However…


Yeah, this kick’s MP08’s arse.

Though that’s not exactly fair. MP08 is going for the G1 toon accuracy with the upright “guy in a Godzilla suit” stance, and it pulls it off well. But this guy? He takes the slightly more accurate video game T-Rex mode and throws in enough articulation to make it work. But if I had to choose…


It’s amazing how well articulated he is in this mode and how expressive he can be. You can even pull his huge head out further from the neck to allow extra upwards and side to side movement. Add to that the tail articulation and you get the best bloody dino-mode I have ever seen on a Transformer. Hell, he even has a massive flamethrower/tongue in his mouth, and his robot mode knee-pads become his rocket boosters from the game! Yes, the weapons storage is a bit naff but honestly? Are you going to want to block your view of his magnificent legs?

That came out wrong. (No, it didn’t)

And getting to this mode is quite fun as well. The transformation is complex enough to be fun, without being too simple. Yes, there’s a bit where you have to move the tails parts over the legs that will cause trepidation the first time you do it, but as he’s been constructed with that in mind once you get past that initial “Oh shit will I break this thing” moment it becomes acceptable and second nature.

I’ve waited a long time for this guy to show up, and he does not disappoint. If you get the chance I would 100% recommend you get him. The real problem I have now is deciding which mode to display him in.


Yeah, probably dino-mode.

War for Cybertron: Siege Voyager Springer

So originally, I was going to do another comparison review like my recent Optimus Prime one, comparing this new Siege Springer toy to his previous Generations counterpart…but honestly, that’s a bit unfair to the new guy. To me, thrilling 30 Springer beats it in pretty much every category except one. Looking like the G1 toy version.

So while I will be occasionally referring to Thrilling 30 dude, I’m going to try and assess Siege Springer on his own merits.


Anyway, so Springer gets only his third toy where he is actually a triple changer, and it hearkens back to his routes and is based on the original toy, which I had as a kid. This was my main drive in getting one. He was one of the few complete Transformers I had and I was fascinated by the triple changer concept…even if he was probably the worst example of its problems. I mean his car and helicopter modes were distinguished by one being longer than the other and having a sword attached to it or not.


Speaking of which, Siege Springer manages to have far more articulation than the G1 toy or the T30 voyager (just).  He’s gotten pretty much everything we’ve come to expect from the Siege guys and can do all the poses…to a point.

While the rest of him can hold a pose fine, his ankle tilts are a bit hit and miss. They’re the main piece of articulation that the T30 guy did not have and it’s nice to have them, but these ankles seem to have a lot of trouble holding him up, even in a basic standing pose. You can balance him on them, but don’t be surprised if he tips forwards or backwards once or twice until you find the sweet spot.


Accessories wise he comes with some nice guns, two swords…and a thingy. Described as a “turret” by the instructions, it’s the bit you shove the swords in to become the helicopter rotors. This is dumb and there must have been a way to do this better, even if you wanted to have two swords rather than the T30 guy’s brilliant splitting sword. He’s covered in ports so the guns have places to go, and there are even some tabs that you can (loosely) put the swords on his back, but this has nowhere to really hide it without it being a bit daft. Doesn’t help that the backpack doesn’t really tab in anywhere either so it can flop off and hang off his arse like some kind of heavily armed remora fish.  That said you can have him going with duels words which is always fun.


Transformation to both modes is on the one hand, really fun, and on the other, terrifying. No matter which mode you go to there’s a lot of lining up tabs, and hoping said tabs don’t break because some of those fuckers are tight. In fact, when going to helicopter form you kinda have to try and line up everything as well as possible and just squeeze it all together and pray something doesn’t break.


Chopper mode is my favourite for a lot of reasons. It looks great. If a flying box can look “great” everything fits together well and there’s a place for every one of his accessories to go. Hell, there’s even grooves on this wings/weapon mounts to allow the gun that has weapon tabs for the swords to sit flush (which I’m fairly sure I didn’t in the photo above but can’t be bothered taking it again). I mean yes I prefer the Thrilling 30 design which looks more like an actual helicopter (if you squint) but this is a really good modernised version of the G1 design.


Joking aside, this is actually a pretty good Cybertronian car mode for Springer and there are more steps to get to this than you think. The legs pretty much flip horizontal and fold in and themselves and you reposition the shoulder and flip and push the weapon mounts in to make it more compact while moving the front wheels further forward. Works far better than the original did of convincing me that this is a third mode and not something the designers pulled out of their arse. Unfortunately, the weapon storage is just plain daft There are tabs for the swords and plenty of gun ports, yes. But there’s nowhere for the marine radar on it, or you stick the weapons together to form…well, take a look.


Yeah, it ain’t great. I mean yes the Thrilling 30 guy had a similar thing with its friction missile launcher, but it didn’t spin freely and somehow looked far more cohesive than it should have done. You can improve the look of this by removing the spinning section and just plug it in with the rear guns 5mm peg. Though it means you’ve still got nowhere to put the rotor assembly, which is a big no-no. What can I say? Bad weapon storage is a turn off for me.

Overall, Siege Springer is a good toy but has some issues that might put some people off getting him. I can see arguments for not bothering with him if you prefer the Thrilling 30 version, but this one has plenty more positives than negatives, alongside the fact he is far closer to the G1 original. If I can have 20 plus G1 looking Megatrons sharing a shelf, I can have two Springers next to each other.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


War for Cybertron Siege Leader Shockwave Review

Shockwave is one of my favourite Transformers characters that has transcended whatever version of the franchise he has been in…except for his initial G1 cartoon incarnation where he did nothing but fail to hit anyone in million years of war. That’s kind of bad for a guy who turns into a gun. This might explain why since then he’s taken on a few different forms including satellite, helicopter, car and god knows how many made-up tanks in the years afterwards. It was only with the Combiner Wars Legends and Masterpiece toys that we got official gun Shockwaves, a hole that was filled by 3rd party companies for years. But if you didn’t want a tiny Shockwave or what is essentially a really expensive transforming display piece, you were out of luck. That is until Siege came around and let everyone know that Shockwave is back in his original G1 form!

Sort of.


So yeah, looking at old Mecha-Shiva up there you may be forgiven for being confused by my opening paragraph of this review. All that guff is armour, as in the Siege toyline, Shockwave is basically the Decepticon’s answer to Ultra Magnus. I don’t own Magnus myself preferring my Combiner Wars IDW version (yes, I own about 8 different versions of Shockwave, what’s your point?), but he’s a call back to his original G1 form, as in he’s a white Optimus with armour attachments to make the “proper” robot mode. Shockwave is kind of the reverse, his proper robot mode is his unarmoured state, but the armour can bulk him up in his two other modes, as well as having a third use. But more on that later.

As for armoured up Shockwave himself? I like it more than I thought. Yeah, it’s daft with its two extra gun arms, massive shoulder pads and gun toes, but I can kinda see a Shockwave of the scientific bent using it to help him keep up with the strong bots.

That said this is the guy who’s fought the entire team of Dinobots to a standstill by himself in more than one continuity, so make of that what you will.

Articulation wise he’s got it out the arse, wrist swivel on all the arms, decent elbows, raised articulation, and a good range of motion on his arms, thigh rotation, good knees and a minor ankle tilt. You can pull off some ludicrous poses with this guy, making him good fun to play with.

But things get a little bit more sensible when you force him to strip.


Now here we go, this is the G1 mass retail Shockwave we’ve been wanting for ages…I assume? Anyway, this is a bloody good Shockwave, if a little small. He’s essentially Voyager size, the armour taking him up to Leader class. But unlike Ultra Magnus who becomes his “proper” robot mode with the armour, Shockwave would have been perfectly fine without, so I can see why people are miffed about paying Leader prices for a Voyager sized figure, even if he is a good one. I was fine with it when I ordered him but seeing how small he is without the armour and how he stacks up next to my other leader class CHUG toy’s, it is a bit shit.


And I gotta say I love the colour of plastic this guy has. One of the reasons I went for a Cloud 9 Quakeblast for my Masterpiece Shockwave was the darker purple he sported and not the lighter shade of the official or Quakewave. Also, it was about half the price. This dark purple really works for me, as does the glorious yellow light piping on his eye, and the bit of silver and black on his hose and eye give him just enough colouring to not be boring. All this in a Shockwave I can transform back and forth without worrying I’m gonna break the damn thing like I do with Quakblast, who while a solid toy, is now a fancy paperweight.

Speaking of paperweights…


The second of the three uses for his armour is this armed surfboard thingy. I like to pretend it’s a drone for helping him in the land. It is named Juan.

I have nothing else to add to this so let’s get on to his alt-mode shall we?


Hang on, something ain’t right here…


There we go.

Jokes aside, I never got why we can’t call Shockwave a space laser anymore, even though he is blatantly is one. It’s the same as with Sixshot and his “submarine mode.” It sucks, but well, we’re not actually losing anything with it so there ya go. As the “gun” he’s a pretty decent representation, with the hose having plenty of places to peg in, those the designated place is the handle. It works a bit better as a ship, as the handle, or perhaps bridge, is too small for anyone save a baby or some kind of small simian (a macaque perhaps?) to use as a weapon.

Oh, but remember I mentioned that the surfboard was the armours second use of three? Well here’s the third.


I really like this fully kitted out battleship mode. The detailing on it makes it is sublime and the hints of silver the gun barrels really helps them pop. Hell, little details like the missile pods on Shockwave’s feet at the rear make this feel like some sort of giant end boss battleship or the flagship of some alien space armada. Well, that and the massive laser cannon barrel on the front. This is a gunship in every sense of the word.

So, while it is a bit naff to have a good voyager Shockwave at a leader price, I think the extra just about make up for it. Your mileage may vary of course, but he really works for me and I think he would make an excellent addition to your Siege collection.


Studio Series Dropkick Review

So, with the Bumblebee movie due to drop within a few weeks,  and looking like it’ll be bloody good (but then didn’t we say that about the first movie and its sequels), the toys have started dropping. Most of these are in lines that are catering to the younger audience that the movie is aiming for, rather than whatever the hell audience the other movies were trying to hit. These means a good chunk of the toys are simpler designs. But luckily, we have the Studio Series where the older collectors can get more complex and screen accurate version of the characters, and the first Decepticon from the Bumblebee movie in this line is Dropkick, one of three triple changers featured in the film.


Dropkick the toy is noticeably not a triple changer, or even very screen accurate. I think I know why, the lines that have triple changers tend to be G1 inspired, so you can take a tank, which is essentially a block with a turret, and then stick some wings on it to make it a jet and no one will call you out on it.


Meanwhile, the more “alien” robot modes, including g the far more G1-esque designs of the Bumblebee movie, combined with the actual licensed vehicle of the movies don’t translate well into plastic. So, while we won’t ever get a triple changing Dropkick, that does mean Hasbro and Takara can try and sell twice as many toys of him.

Robot mode Dropkick seems very evocative of two other Transformers to me, essentially G1 Whirl and movie Blackout. The alt-mode is Whirl, while the design is vaguely reminiscent of Blackout in how the engines end up on his shoulders and how he handles his rather obtrusive arm kibble, while the grey-blue colour seems to be reminiscent of both.

The one thing that he didn’t get from his parents was their size.


Dropkick is bloody TINY. Like ridiculously so. He is apparently a deluxe and while he is as tall as some of them, he is also very slim in almost every as aspect, and due to this, he is also very light. When I first posted impressions about him, I said he felt flimsy. He’s not, the robot mode is actually quite solid and holds together well, save his engine kibble and alt-mode landing gear, as neither of them pegs in or otherwise secure anywhere in robot mode. But my brain having been deprived of enough sleep for most of the week, interpreted this as flimsy. In reality, he just feels so slight it is kind of off-putting as there’s no heft to him. I mean not every bot has to be a big chunky bastard, but they need something to make it feel like I won’t accidentally throw them to the ceiling just by picking them up. For comparison, here are some other deluxe class bots for comparison, including a movie-based helicopter.


Articulation wise he’s average, he has an almost 180-degree knee bend, thigh swivel, and full range of motion in his shoulders and hips. His arms can bend up to 90 degrees and no further, and he has no waist swivel. He’s perfectly serviceable and can get some cool poses, yet he is lacking compared to a lot of recent deluxe bots.

However, when you get to transforming him, you can see where the budget went for this guy. The transformation is a blast and incredibly involved for such a small toy. One a first go it’s a little bit fiddly, mainly because you end up doing a lot more than you expect to do. For example, you see his cockpit chest? So, you’d expect it to be a typical “tuck head away in the cockpit and build the robot around that” sort of deal like with most jet and chopper Transformers. This is still true to a degree, but you also flip his entire torso and leg assembly 180 degrees while unfolding the legs and arms before snapping everything together (though this can take a couple of attempts for everything to stick). It’s fun and quite impressive once you get it down, and the result is a very nice rendition of a Cobra….


As I was saying, he transforms into a very nice rendition of a Bell AH1 SuperCobra, aka the best-named attack helicopter of all time. The colours work a lot better here and you get to see a lot more details, including the nice skull and crossbones logo…which seems to replace any form of Decepticon badge, something that has popped up in other Studio Series releases. His guns store as missile pods on his side and in this mode a front-mounted mini-gun comes in to play. The rotors don’t spin freely, but that’s not a deal-breaker for me. This is my favourite mode but it still feels criminally undersized. Part of the idea with the Studio Series scale is that they’re supposed to be in scale with each other. And even though most of his form goes to stretch his length, he is still pretty much dwarfed by most car bots. I can live with that, as dealing with scale issues is something you have to learn to accept in Transformers lest you go mad with trying to figure out how the hell G1 Broadside works, but I know some people take umbrage with stuff like this.

Good news is that he works with G1 Bumblebee if you’re so inclined!


All in all, Dropkick is OK. His transformation and alt-mode are great, but if you’re like me keep your Transformers in robot mode 90% of the time, this may feel like a little bit of a letdown in that area. I think this would have worked much better as a Voyager figure where he would have had a bigger budget and probably would give him more mass. At least the lack of Con symbol can be easily rectified thanks to Reprolabels!