Earthrise Voyager Snapdragon Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earthrise Leader Doubledealer Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earthrise Voyager Starscream

OK let’s get this out of the way. Yes, Earthrise Starscream shares a lot of DNA, metaphorically speaking, with the good old 2006 deluxe guy. The one that holds up somewhat well today, 14 goddamn years after it’s release. Yes, he doesn’t have oversized missile launches (which thank God cos I probably would have lost the sodding missiles a dozen times by now). He’s got pretty much the same amount of articulation but moves two points to a more useful area, he’s bigger, and his nose cone isn’t attached to his head limiting the articulation. I like him more than deluxe. OK got that? Can we move on now?

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ANYWAY, so finally got my hands on this guy. I got him because he’s Starscream. Do you like Decepticon jets? You gotta like Starscream.  I was prepared to be a bit underwhelmed by him, but to nick a joke from Young Justice, I was very much whelmed. Not overwhelmed, I would say a perfectly sufficient amount of whelming was had.

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It’s been a long time since we’ve had an F-15 Starscream look this good. The paint is lovely, though prone to chipping on the crotch, the colours are vibrant, he’s got the perfect silhouette. Honestly, it just works. I was unsure if I preferred the proportions of this guy to the 2006 deluxe but I think it works better. I also gotta say the plastic used for this guy is really solid. When I first got my hands on him, it felt kinda odd. Like not grainy or anything but very different to other plastics used. But it’s dense and shows the sculpted details really well. Also, as a bit of w weird thing, he has absolutely zero screws in him. Every joint is pinned…which might make doing customs of this guy a pain in the arse, but in that case it’s a good thing I have the artistic ability of a blind man in a blacked-out basement at 1 am.

So, everyone’s compared this guy to 2006 Starman for about 3 billion years now, but I think it’s fairer to compare him to the other recent voyager Starscream from Siege.

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So, in terms of looks…well they both look like G1 Starscream. I like them both but since like, 80% of their deco and proportions are the same it’s kinda hard to pick one, so that’s really gonna come down to personal preference. I like ‘em both but Earthrise scratches the G1 itch more. However, Siege Starscream does have more articulation.  Not by much, but what he does have makes a difference. The butterfly joint lets you get him in a more natural one-armed shooting poses…if you can use the term “natural” for describing a plastic robot. He’s also got the waist swivel, even if it is limited, double-jointed elbows and a wrist swivels. So, if you want a “better” robot mode, you go for Siege Screamer. Plus, in fairness, he doesn’t have giant gaps in the sides of his torso.

That said, Earthrise Starscream does have enough articulation to do most basic good poses. And they both have articulated wings for a reason I still can’t fathom. Technically Siegescream has more articulated wings, but they both feel a bit pointless to me. I’m sure someone will get some use out of them though.

However, when you transform ER Starscream (played by George Clooney) you see where the work went on this guy. Where’ as the Siege toy pretty much just turned Starscream into a cube under a pair of wings (and stuck his chest on his back), this tucks everything away nicely. Most aspects are very much 2006 deluxe yes, but there’s a bit more to it. A small amount tweaks to how things get tucked away and it’s slightly more involved. And the results? Well just LOOK at it!

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This is a goddamn gorgeous rendering of Starscream’s F-15 mode. The detail on the top of the jet is picked out wonderfully and he feels solid. He’s also the perfect size for swooshing around, at least in my meaty man-child hands. Honestly, I have no complaints.

So overall, this is the best official version of Starscream to date, and I include the Masterpiece in that. True others may look better subjectively, have more articulation and so forth, but this thing is the whole goddamn package. Solidly built, looks great in both modes, works with the Siege effects parts and has a fun, involved transformation.

Now I just gotta wait for them to do Thundercracker and Skywarp…goddammit, Hasbro did it again didn’t they?

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