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.

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.

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.

123

UNTIL NOW.

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 www.showzstore.com 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.

4

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…

5

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…

6

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…

789

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.

10

Yeah, probably dino-mode.

Maketoys Buster Skywing Review

Look I’m not going to wank on about the character’s name changing origins, but I will say Jetfire has been one of my low-key fave Autobots for a while. I loved the Generations toy from 2006 and was very sad when I left it on a windowsill and forgot about it for months so it yellowed to all hell. I was very happy with the Thrilling 30 version even if he had lost some mass, though gained height. It also made me get two more versions of it when the seeker moulds came out.

I did not like the look of the new Siege one.

If you do, great! But to me, that wasn’t Jetfire. That was Skyfire. The boxy as fuck jet from the cartoon who existed only because of reasons that are hidden by a load of copyright law and legal jargon that I do not want to bother looking into. The idea of a character who changed from Con to Bot is a good concept and I like how that has carried over to the Jetfire name, but I could never get behind the design. I always liked the Macross Valkyrie design and one day I might get around to buying one. But the latest Jetfire didn’t scratch that quasi-anime itch I like.

However, Maketoys Buster Skywing is anime as fuck

1

Buster Skywing comes from our good friends, Maketoys. Another one of their Cross Dimension line that gave us the sublime Rioter Despotron I reviewed a while back. Though he wasn’t my first choice. I originally intended to get the black repaint (that came out first) Buster Stealthwing and make him a Decepticon.  However, then Transbridge Omegalock put this guy on sale for £66 and my wife got him for me as an early birthday present. So, a) I LOVE HERE, and b) I’ve come to think the original Skyfire colours suit this guy far better. The bright white and red really make him seem more anime than the black and make him pop a lot more. I’m getting a Tallgeese from Gundam Wing vibe from him.

God, I’m such a weeb.

2

Anyway, Skywing comes pack to the gills with articulation, including a visor that can fold over his face.  And he is BIG. The guy is only slightly shorter than the Thrilling 30 leader Jetfire but has far more mass. He’s made of good solid plastic and all his joints are tight…sometimes too tight, but we’ll get to that in a bit. One of my favourite bits or articulation is the wing tops. While I keep them folded up in bot mode to shave on shelf space, the proper way is to flip them out. It took me a while to decide on a look and I decided to fold them in when I couldn’t stop thinking of him as some kind of giant anime mecha-peacock.

3

Accessories wise he doesn’t come with much, just his guns and backpack and boosters…but that’s because he is pretty much an accessory pack himself. You can take bits of him apart and stick them on any version of Maketoys Cross Dimension Optimus Prime mould…which I don’t own.

But I do own Legendary Toys KO version of their Striker Noir! Aka Nemesis Prime aka the guy I use as RiD 2001 Scourge. That should work right!?

It did not.

45

So, the KO Striker Noir is a good toy on his own, good joints tolerances etc…but due to it being a KO all the ports required for this feature are either just a bit too big or not in quite the right place and it becomes a floppy mess. Hell, I couldn’t even get the shoulder pads to stay on. It’s a shame as looking at when it’s used with a legitimate copy it holds together far better. I didn’t buy it for the combined mode, so the KO Noir works fine for me. But if you want the interactivity, I would recommend you get the proper versions.

(If you’re wondering I bought the KO it’s the proper version mould was sold out everywhere at the time….and it was less than half the price. And don’t give me shit about buying a KO of a 3rd Party toy cos we’ll be here all day with me pointing out all 3rd Party toys infringe on the HasTak copyright. We good?)

Anyway, on to the jet mode! Which is easier said than done. The first time I transformer this guy it was terrifying. There are some loud noises being made from the ratchets and tabs…and that then turned to frustration with the back end. He’s one of those guys that you have to get 100% dead on and if one bit is out and you try to force it, it causes something else to pop out. I’ve got it mostly worked out now, but it can still be a faff.

The results though? Nice.

6

It’s a Quin-Jet, with massive guns/rocket boosters on it and is lovely. Plus it has articulation! Not only do the wingtips move, but a good chunk of the jet intakes and exhausts can move independently, giving him pose-ability in vehicle mode, however minor. He can look very dynamic for a flying brick.

There are some small QC issues to be aware of, like how the rear landing struts/heels are screwed in on one side, but just slotted on the over with a small peg in place for rotation…which has been known to break off. It does not affect the toy at all when it does this and they stay in o place because of the slot anyway, but it happened to mine and I’ve seen others mention it as well so you should be aware. But overall, I think this is a brilliant stand-alone figure. Who knows? I might get the black version as well if I see him at a good price, but I think this guy looks a lot better in white. A great toy and a wonderful gift from my wife.

7

War for Cybertron Siege: Deluxe Impactor Review

So originally, I was going to do my next review on Siege Brunt who is definitely my fave of the weaponizers. Then Impactor turned up in the UK and quite frankly my thoughts haven’t been on another toy since then. Part of it is that we finally have a general retail version of one of the most famous characters from the UK Transformers Marvel comic. The other is that he is rather good.

123

I was born the year after Transformers started so I was too young to get introduced to him properly in the comics, but being the leader of the legendary Wreckers before Springer meant he left an impact on young UK minds. To the point where Nick Roche and James Roberts brought him back to the public consciousness in the brilliant Last Stand of the Wreckers story. Here Impactor is portrayed as a violent “shoot first don’t bother asking questions” leader of the same group, to the point where he straight up committed war crimes. Since then he’s had a few toy appearances in con exclusive sets and one of the more sought after 3rd Party figures in MasterMind Creations Spartan, but now it feels like Hasbro is like “No give us your money” on a lot of characters 3rd parties have been providing fans for years. Hell, Impactor gets 2 releases, one as a Decepticon in a 3 pack with a clear blue Mirage, and Aragon (a repaint of Cog and not a Lord of the Rings character). That version has a more IDW head, but also costs 3 times as much and includes 2 characters I don’t want, so I went with the standard retail version, and I am not disappointed.

4

Impactor looks fantastic in robot mode. The yellow and purple work really well, being complementary colours, and that head sculpt is fantastic. Yeah, I may have preferred the IDW one but this works a little better with the more block proportions of the toy. He’s broad, square, and feels like a wall came to life and wanted to start kicking people’s heads in. Well, several guns. Coming with his main cannon, which becomes his tank turret, and his pistol which doubles as his traditional harpoon.  You can flip either of his hands in and peg it on the stump as I do here, but it’s great to have the option. Combine those with his shoulder cannon and this guy looks ready to break things. Or wreck them, if you will.  His articulation is, as with most Siege toys, fantastic, featuring pretty damn near everything except wrist rotation. His “waist” articulation is technically absent, as he actually rotates at the chest, allowing the same movement, but slightly odd-looking when sued. However, there is a reason for that which I will get in to later.

One thing that put some people off the toy when he was initially revealed was the hollow legs. It’s something that we’ve seen more and more in Hasbro Transformers lately, thought Siege seemed to be doing well there. However, when I put Impactor next to other deluxe, the reasons become clear. Thanks to those gaps, Hasbro used the plastic it leaves over to make him bigger than most over deluxe toys. He’s roughly a head taller than his compatriots and gives some recent voyager sized toys a run for their money. Hell, he even doesn’t look that bad next to Thrilling 30 “Lanky Boy” Springer, appropriately.

5

Transforming Impactor is fun and intuitive, and reveals one of the best tank modes for a while from a deluxe. Actually, make that for any size tank guy, as due to that odd chest articulation, he features a fully rotating turret and a gun that can aim up and down.  This is something I don’t think we’ve seen since any size class tank transformer since deluxe Warpath in 2011. Oh wait, no Brunt can do that too! OK yes for Impactor it is mainly because of his gun connects in tank mode, and Brunt is essentially a bunch of weapons and armour stuck together to vaguely resemble something that might be a tank if you squint, but still, good job Siege!

6

Overall, I’d definitely recommend Impactor. He’s got a great presence, great articulation and a fun transformation, definitely one of Siege top 5 toys in my opinion.

789

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.

1

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.

2

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.

3

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.

4

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.

5

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.

6

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.

7

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.

8

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.

12

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.

3

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.

4

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.

5

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.

6

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.

7

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.

8

 

War for Cybetron Siege: Deluxe Hound Review

So, the first review of 2019! I had a couple to look at but asked twitter what they would like to see. And they chose fan favourite Hound from the Siege line! So, let’s talk about Hound the character…

Uhm he got saved from drowning in the first arc of the G1 cartoon and people made a gif of him that made it look like he was having sex with his rescuer, Spike Witwicky. That is literally all I can remember him doing.

1

So, whenever people say Hound is their favourite character, I’m like, “what character?” Hound is one of those guys whose personality starts and ends with his toy bio. “He is good at fighting and likes Earth.” And unlike a lot of other G1 season 1 bots, he never really got much character development after that in any other media. I mean, even the comic where he was the leader of a squad of Autobots that got their arses kicked by Cyclonus was named after another character. Says a lot.

Least the toy is good though!

2

Almost every Hound in history has turned into a variation of a jeep, and we see this is no different here. Except, everything in the Siege line is set on Cybertron so he turns into a SPACE JEEP. A nice blocky design and a plethora of weapons storage ports. I really like it, mainly because it looks like a Warthog from Halo if you squint.

3

His transformation would seem to be a case of “unfold legs, push chest down to reveal head” and it is until you get about halfway done. But his feet are actually created from holding the sides of the jeep in half to create the legs, leading to him having both his front and back wheels on his legs and nothing handing off his hood-chest or getting in the way of his arms.

4

With that, you get a very good traditional G1 robot mode, with some sci-fi greebles. The paint is top-notch, especially the silver stars.  The Siege battle damage also works really well for him. Honestly though? I think he could have done with being a lighter shade of green, something not a dark or dull, possibly similar to the CW toy.  Something to make him pop a little more.

As seems to be a running theme in the Siege line, his articulation is right impressive for a deluxe, with the major bases covered. Hip swivel, good knees, a useable ankle tilt. He’s pretty good.

What else can I say?

I like his gun has a hopper which has a dedicated place for it in his car mode?

Honestly, it should come as no surprise I’m more of a Decepticon guy than Autobot. The majority of the G1 cartoon Con’s had distinct personalities which made me gravitate towards them and a lot of my memories are tied up in those, like how Starscream was a backstabbing git, or Soundwave was probably the only competent one out of the lot of them and so forth. The Autobots though? There were 19 Autobots on the Ark in the first episode of the cartoon. And about 9 personalities between them.  Hound was one of those guys who got the 1 personality left over after the first eight got used up. He was a “nice guy” who would sit in the background while other people got the spotlight.

So basically, this is a good toy that is attached to a popular character despite him doing bugger all significant in every form of media he’s been in and doesn’t have anything else to make him stand out. Like a recent IDW personality re-imagining or a signature episode, or a particularly cool colour scheme. He was just there, letting others do the heavy lifting in the cartoon designed to sell toys.  I mean if I have fonder memories of bleeding Punch/Counterpunch and his ONE SCENE in the cartoon, something isn’t right.

6