Studios Series 86 Voyager Hot Rod

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

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

By Unicron’s silly beard is this guy just amazing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

War for Cybertron: Kingdom Voyager Cyclonus Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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