#2353: Hot Rod

HOT ROD

TRANSFORMERS (HASBRO)

“Screws fall out all the time, sir.  The world’s an imperfect place.”

In the summer of 1986, Transformers: The Movie arrived in theaters, and brought with it a new cast of characters, and a new cast of celebrities to voice them.  Shermer High’s resident rebel Judd Nelson was brought in to voice the newly introduced Hot Rod, a character meant to take over as the franchise’s lead from the dearly departing Optimus Prime, much like his opposite number Falcon over on the G.I. Joe side of things.  And, just like with Falcon, it didn’t quite endear him to the fans the way Hasbro was hoping it would (I think in the long run the years have been much kinder to Hot Rod than they have to Falcon, though).  Whatever the case, being the proposed central character for the continuation of a popular franchise is pretty good spot to be in from a toy stand point, and Hot Rod was of course added to the toyline to coincide with the movie’s release.  I’ll be taking a look at that first toy today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hot Rod hit shelves in 1986 as part of the heavily movie-inspired line-up for Transformers that year.  Unlike prior entries in the line, Hot Rod was not repurposed from pre-existing Japanese molds, but was instead a new creation specifically for the Transformers line, designed by working in tandem with the proposed animation model character.  The end result is something that sticks pretty close to the animation design, at least when compared to some of the other vintage figures.  In his robot mode, Hot Rod stands about 6 inches tall and he has 8 usable points of articulation.  All of the robot more’s articulation is in the arms, and that actually doesn’t include any sort of up/down motion on the shoulders, making Hot Rod by far the most limited of the four G1 bots I own in terms of poseablility.  He’s good for standing around, but that’s about it.  On the plus side, with a rather faithful to the animation sculpt, he’s got one of the nicest looking robot modes from the original line, and manages to actually nicely walk the line between the two modes a lot better than a good portion of his compatriots.  There is one running change in terms of construction for the figure.  Initial versions had metal feet, the version 2 mold got plastic feet.  Mine is a version 2 figure, though appearance-wise they’re the same.  Hot Rod’s alt-mode is a futuristic sports car from the far off year of 2005, which means he was unlike a lot of the vintage stuff, being a non-existent vehicle.  It’s a pretty sleek design though, and the transformation is a pretty slick and easy mode shift.  Hot Rod was originally packed with a pair of blasters, but mine is just the core figure.  Oh well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wasn’t gonna get any more G1 Transformers.  I thought I was done.  I really did.  Then this guy got traded into All Time, and he was just kinda nifty and I had trade credit to burn through, and Max was not going to talk me out of buying a Transformer, and so here I am.  Poseablity aside, I actually really like him a lot, and he offers a nice balance of both modes, and certainly looks cool!

As I noted above,  I got this guy from my friends at All Time Toys, and a good chunk of the collection he came from is still available here If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2351: Foot Soldier

FOOT SOLDIER

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: TURTLES IN TIME (NECA)

I feel like I’ve reviewed a surprising number of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles items in the last year.  Though the license has classically just been with Playmates Toys, in the last year there’s actually been a lot of coverage from other toy companies.  In particular, NECA has done quite a bit, with movie, cartoon, and now video game-based figures all in short order.  The cool thing about the video game figures is that they’re actually just available at regular retail and not exclusives.  This marks the first time 7-inch Turtles have been available en masse since the old comic figures back in 2007.  Today, I’m not looking at any of the Turtles proper, but one of Shredder’s faceless minions, the Foot Soldiers!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Foot Soldier is part of the first series of NECA’s Turtles in Time line.  The line serves as something of a follow-up to their exclusive Arcade Game-based boxed sets from 2016, and in fact re-issues a lot of the sculpts contained therein.  The Foot Solder in particular is one such case, re-using the majority of that figure’s sculpt, which was itself repurposed from NECA’s then unreleased comics-styled Foot Soldier.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 35 points of articulation.  He’s certainly got a lot of spots of movement, and the arms and legs are very mobile, but the torso and neck are a little more restricted than I’d like.  That being said, it’s still a quite useful selection of articulation, and he’s still very agile.  The sculpt is an impressive piece, and marketedly different from the cartoon version we got in the Target two-packs.  As someone who’s never been much into the cartoon style design for the Foot, I’m all for getting this sculpt here.  It’s a nice, fairly balanced sculpt.  Some of the details of the costume don’t quite match the details of the game designs, but it’s not far off, and I don’t find the differences all that distracting.  The paint scheme on this guy is meant to replicate the 16-bit designs from the game, something that NECA’s gotten pretty adept at.  The Foot Soldiers in the game came in a variety of colors, something that the 2016 set replicated, but for the purposes of this one, they’ve opted for the purple coloring.  Honestly, it’s the best choice for a starter Foot, but I wouldn’t say no to getting more of this guy in the alternate colors.  The nature of the 16-bit replication means that the Foot Soldier definitely has a stylization to him, but honestly he walks the line of stylized, but still workable with non-16-bit figures.  He actually makes some changes from the boxed set version to make him a little less obviously styled, and I like the changes they made.  The Foot Soldier is packed with a sword, a gun, two sets of hands (fists and gripping), and a hover board with a flight stand.  The board is by far the coolest extra, with some really awesome detail work going on.  I really love the cartoon foot symbol at the front.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I’m kinda starting to hit my limit on how many different versions of the Turtles I need, I pretty much can’t have too many Foot guys, and I’ve wanted some form of this particular sculpt since NECA first showed it off back when they were still trying to continue the comic line.  Getting the nifty new game-inspired pieces is really just icing on the cake.  I definitely dig this guy a lot, and I’m resisting the urge to at lest pick up Donatello to go with him.

The Foot Soldier was purchased from my friends All Time Toys, where he is currently in stock here.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2345: Goliath

GOLIATH (w/ ANT-MAN & WASP)

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)

“Hank Pym started small. After shrinking his way to worldwide renown as the super-heroic Ant-Man, founding member of the mighty Avengers, he ascended to even greater glory in the guise of Giant-Man. Now, as Goliath, he continues to prove that size matters: His greatest asset is his big brain and knack for invention! Due to years of exposure to the size-altering properties of Pym Particles, Goliath can increase in stature at will and to a maximum height of 100 feet of shrink to the size of an ant. He grows by drawing additional mass froman extra-dimensional source, to which it returns when he reverts to normal. Goliath can shrink an entire laboratory or an array of firearms to the size of a microchip when not in use. The various compartments of his uniform straps contain a wide variety of miniaturized equipment.”

Toy Biz’s run on Marvel Legends was full of a lot of rather frustrating choices on their part, all in the name of trying to foster some sort of after market value for their figures.  It was…well, it wasn’t the best time to be a collector, but it was a really good time for scalpers.  Yay?  One of their ideas was chase figures, figures that were not advertised on the back of the package and were shipped in very low numbers, and were just short of including a note on the front that said “scalp me.”  The concept only ended up lasting for two assortments, Series 4 and Series 5.  I’ve looked at Red Skull, the chase for Series 5, but now I’m looking at the figure that officially launched it, Goliath!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As noted in the intro, Goliath was the chase figure for Series 4 of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends, and was subsequently the one figure in the assortment not listed on the back of the packaging.  He’s officially supposed to be based on Hank’s first Goliath costume, but, well, there’s some caveats to that, which I’ll touch on in a bit. The figure stands 8 1/4 inches tall and he has 12 points of articulation.  That’s a pretty low count for a Legends release, and there’s a good reason for that: he’s not a Legends sculpt.  Instead, he was a wholesale repaint of the Giant-Man figure from their classic Avengers boxed set from the ’90s.  Now, you may recall from my (astoundingly short) review of that figure, that I was pretty fond of the sculpt.  It’s honestly one of he nicest sculpts to come out of their 5-inch days.  That being said, it didn’t really fit all that well stylistically with the Legends Toy Biz was putting out at this time.  I mean, he’ll look okay with the Iron Man and Cap, but beyond that he’s gonna be out of place.  Additionally, the sculpted details of the costume are pretty specific to Giant-Man’s costume, but those don’t line-up with the Goliath costume they opted to go for.  He shouldn’t have the antenna or the circle, and he should have goggles, and a completely different belt.  We wound up getting a couple of more accurate renditions of this costume once Hasbro took over, but for this one, Toy Biz was clearly wanting a cheap extra figure to produce and went with the “close enough” philosophy.  The paint work kind of rolls with the differences of the sculpt, and pretty much makes no attempt to hide them, because, honestly, it’s not like there’s much that can be done.  It’s a pretty nifty color scheme, and I certainly dig the metallic blue used on the body suit.  In order to distract a bit from the re-used mold and the lack of a base sculpt, Goliath was packed with repaints of the Ant-Man and Wasp figures from the same boxed set as Giant-Man.  They work a little better with the Legends aesthetic, though they’re not super-poseable or anything.  The new coat of paint does look nice, though.

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite the somewhat lazy creation, I always wanted this guy when he was new.  Perhaps because I was giving into the very forces that Toy Biz was counting on, or perhaps because I just always liked this Goliath costume.  Whatever the case, I didn’t get one, because the after market for him was stupid expensive for a good long while.  Then the people paying the stupid money for him actually took a closer looked at him, realized how lazy a creation he was, and two much better versions of the costume were released, and now this guy can be had for a much more reasonable sum.  He ended up traded into All Time about a year and a half ago, allowing me to finally add him to my collection.  He’s not anything to write home about, but I can love him for what he is.

#2344: Autobot Grapple

AUTOBOT GRAPPLE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: EARTHRISE (HASBRO)

Okay, so I’m at the end of this Transformers week and…well, I’m gonna level with you guys, I’m kinda starting to stretch the limits of what I know off-hand about Transformers.  Take, for instance, today’s guy.  I know he’s an Autobot named Grapple, but, well, that kinda comes from the name, now doesn’t that?  Beyond that?  Not a ton.  He’s not on the list of names I could rattle off if someone asked me to name some transformers on the spot…or at least he wasn’t prior to this figure, and it’s really a 50/50 chance that I’ll accidentally refer to him as Hoist, who is an entirely different guy that’s also available in the initial product launch for Earthrise.  So, with all that said, let’s just see where this review takes us, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Grapple is one half of the first Voyager Class assortment for Transformers War For Cybertron: Earthrise, with the other half being an Earth-mode version of Starscream.  Earthrise continues Siege’s trend of very G1-inspired figures, and even takes it a bit further, given that the setting is once again on Earth, meaning most of the characters will be taking more direct replicas of their original alt-modes.  In his robot mode, Grapple stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 20 practical points of articulation.  Grapple is sporting an all-new sculpt, though given the usual lineage of Grapple figures, it won’t be too much of a surprise to see this sculpt turn up again for Inferno.  It’s a very cartoon-inspired sculpt, and represents a much cleaner design than some of the Siege figures were sporting.  There’s a lot more in the way of clean lines and sharp edges.  It makes for a nice figure to look at.  He’s on the boxier side, which is sensible, given his construction-centered alt-mode.  Said alt-mode is an orange crane truck.  The transformation is mostly pretty easy and straight forward, but there is a slight molding error on all copies of the figure (so far, at least), where the two pegs at the base of the crane are just a touch too large for the corresponding peg holes on the feet.  They’ll resist going in during the transformation, and if you force them you’ll risk breaking the figure.  Fortunately, shaving them down just a touch with a knife was all that was needed to get mine into proper working order.  As far as out of the box mods go, that one’s not too bad.  Grapple is packed with a blaster, a claw, and a nozzle piece.  The blaster is your standard sci-fi fare, but is cool nonetheless.  The claw and nozzle are actually compatible with the ports on the insides of Grapple’s wrists, allowing for them to be swapped out for his hands if you so desire…which I did, so hey, look at that.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I knew nothing about Grapple before this figure.  I still don’t know a ton about him.  But, I liked his design, and unlike Starscream he didn’t feel like a retread, so I was definitely down for picking one up.  Despite not knowing much about him, I quite like this figure, and am happy to have him as my first proper introduction to Earthrise.

Grapple was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys, and is still available here.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2343: Dropkick

DROPKICK

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

While Siege has so far been my primary focus of my Transformers collecting, the thing that actually broke me into this whole Transformers scene was 2018’s Bumblebee, a really enjoyable soft reboot of the movie incarnation of the franchise.  I kicked off my collecting with the film’s version of its main character, and over the summer I picked up the movie’s updated version of Optimus Prime, and now, another seven months later, I picked up a third figure.  This time, it’s one of the film’s two primary antagonists, Dropkick!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Dropkick is a Deluxe Class-sized Studio Series offering, and is figure 46 in the line-up.  In the film, Dropkick and his fellow antagonist Shatter are triple-changers.  That’s all well and good for the film, which uses multiple models for the characters, or even the more cartoon-based toy lines, where they can fudge some details.  However, for the Studio Series, which prides itself on the accuracy of the alt-modes, that’s a more than slightly tricky prospect.  In that regard, the line splits Dropkick into two distinct figure, one that turns into his car mode, and one that turns into his helicopter mode.  This one is the car mode version, which is actually technically screen accurate, since Dropkick is just a car for a brief portion of the film, before he acquires the helicopter mode.  In his robot mode, the figure is just shy of 5 inches tall and he has 15 workable points of articulation.  He’s a little more restricted in terms of poseability than some of the other ‘formers I’ve looked at, but he’s still got enough to get some decent poses out of him.  Dropkick’s robot mode is a pretty decent recreation of his pre-triple-changer form. It’s not accurate to how he looks for most of the movie, but it’s certainly a lot closer than the Helicopter Dropkick figure was.  Dropkick’s alt-mode is a 1973 AMC Javelin muscle car, and the transformation into it is actually a pretty smooth process, honestly the smoothest of the Studio Series figures I’ve picked up so far.  Typically my Studio Series figures only get transformed into their vehicle modes so that I can get the photos and then go back to their robot modes essentially permanently, but I’ve been swapping Dropkick back and forth since getting him, which is a pretty good sign of the alt mode’s strengths.  Dropkick is packed with his liquifying cannon, which his hand folds out of the way for, allowing it to be arm-mounted like it is in the movie.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since I did really like Bumblebee, I’ve been slowly picking up some of its toys, which, I know is a crazy concept for me.  I saw Helicopter Dropkick many times, but I didn’t really care for the changes they made to his robot mode, so I always passed on him.  When this one was announced, I was interested, but I never ended up seeing one in person.  Fortunately for me, one got traded in at All Time, making picking him up quite an easy feat.  I like this figure quite a bit, and it’s probably the most I’ve enjoyed a Studio Series figure, which is certainly not a bad thing.

As I noted above,  I got this guy from my friends at All Time Toys, and while he wasn’t part of it, they’ve recently acquired a pretty decently sized Transformers collection and a lot of it’s still available here If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2342: Ectotron

ECTOTRON

GHOSTBUSTERS X TRANSFORMERS (HASBRO)

At Toy Fair this year, Hasbro confirmed that they had acquired the rights to produce toys based on Ghostbusters and the franchise it spawned, which, while it isn’t the big deal it once was, is still pretty darn nifty.  It’s not entirely surprising, though, considering that just last year, they launched the crossover-based Transformers: Collaborative two Ghostbusting-themed cross over Transformers.  One was a re-decoed Optimus in Ecto-1 colors, which is all well and good, but not terribly exciting for the non-Optimus fans out there, but the other was an all-new character, Ectotron, who turns into the Ghostbusters’ distinctive mode of transportation, and is the figure I’m looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ectotron is the first of the two Ghostbusters x Transformers figures released by Hasbro last year.  He was shown off right on top of last year’s Toy Fair, and went up for preorder right after.  He’s been making his way out through various markets throughout the last year.  In robot mode, the figure stands 7 1/4 inches tall and has 21 usable points of articulation.  Ectrotron was an all-new design, reverse-engineered from his alt-mode and also meant to somewhat replicate the classic Ghostbusters geared-up look in robot form.  Ectotron uses the Combiner Wars Hot Spot as a starting point, with the upper arms, legs, and general inner mechanics being the shared.  He still ends up with his fair share of new parts, however, in order to create his slightly more Ghostbuster-y look.  I like the Ray-esque goggles on the head, though it’s a shame they don’t move up or down.  I will admit that after getting into the line with Siege, a figure based on older molds does feel a little more…rudimentary?  He’s a lot blockier, and also not quite as solidly built as the Siege stuff, with more hollow spaces in his build and a generally clunkier design.  His joints also feel a bit looser than others, particularly on the legs, and there are a few joints that have become standard on newer figures, which are absent here, limiting some of his posing options.  There’s also more kibble from the vehicle mode here than on other recent figures.  I think the shoulders are the only part that really bugs me, but there’s a lot of it sticking off of the back of the figure.  Additionally, the figure’s proton pack has a lot of trouble staying in place on my figure.  I feel like maybe I’m doing something wrong there, but I couldn’t get it to seat any more securely.  Ectotron’s alt-mode is the Ecto-1, in all its fully licensed GM 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor glory.  The transformation into the car is a pretty straight-forward process, and I found it to be pretty easy.  Compared to the likes of the fully licensed vehicles of the Studio Series, which tend to have more fiddly transformation processes, this one was a lot easier to pick up and flip between the two forms.  Some of the procedures, such as transforming the proton pack into the gear on the top of the car, is pretty clever in its implementation, and the final Ecto-1 is a really satisfying replica of the real thing.  Part of the transformation process gets Ectotron his proton wand for the pack, but he’s also got a small Slimer figurine to go with him, which is a cool little extra.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ectotron initially hit while I was still trying out Transformers, so I didn’t grab one initially.  However, I finally had a chance to see one in person, and I had some store credit to burn through, and I was impressed enough in-hand to give him a try.  Compared to something from Siege, yeah, he feels like maybe a slight step down.  That being said, there’s a lot I like about this guy, even if a lot of it’s linked to the pure novelty of what he is.

I picked up Ectotron from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2241: Hot Shot

HOT SHOT

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Though Siege has overall been something of a G1 love-fest, that’s not all there is to the line.  Figures like the Galaxy Upgrade Prime give showcase to some of the franchise’s other incarnation, in that figure, and in turn today’s figure’s case, the incarnation being the “Unicron Trilogy”, a somewhat loosely connected set of shows that ran from 2002 to 2005 and that really brought the more classic vehicular Transformers back into the spotlight after Beast Wars and Beast Machines had shifted the focus for a bit.  One of the central characters within the Unicron Trilogy was Hot Shot, a character who was essentially a new creation, and who is one of the better remembered parts of that incarnation.  It’s fitting that he would make his way into some piece of War For Cybertron, especially when the Optimus he goes with was already there.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hot Shot is one of nine Transformers Generations: Selects figures designed to augment the Siege line at regular retail.  All of the included figures are slight re-workings of pre-existing molds, shipped in a brown cardboard box, and only initially available through online retailers. Like the Galaxy Upgrade Prime, Hot Shot is based on his appearance from Transformers: Cybertron, the last entry in the Unicron Trilogy.  While it might not be my first choice of Hot Shot designs, at least it’s not Energon.  It’s also a sensible choice given the parts catalogue they’re working with right now.  In robot mode, the figure is 5 inches tall and has 20 workable points of articulation.  Hot Shot’s largely a re-paint of Hound.  While the transition to Jeep instead of sports car is a little weird for the Armada fan in me, but it’s a respectable match for the Cybertron Defense Hot Shot figure from the Cybertron line.  In order to differentiate him a bit, he does get a new head sculpt (which was erroneously used as the basis of the illustration on Hound’s packaging…whoops), which is a nice recreation of the CD figure’s noggin.  Aside from that, it’s the same figure as Hound, which isn’t a bad thing.  I liked the sculpt the first time around, and I still like it now, especially with that new head.  Since the figure is more or less unchanged, so is his alt-mode, which is the same Cybertronian-styled Jeep.  Again, I thought it was pretty cool the first time, and it’s still cool here.  The transformation is still pretty simple, and fun to go back and forth through, so I’m down for it.  The whole figure is changed up by switching the colors from Hound’s muted green to a red, blue, and yellow palette, which evokes Hot Shot’s design nicely, and honestly hides the re-used molds pretty darn well.  I’m down for the drastic change in color scheme!  Hot Shot includes the same accessory compliment as Hound, but with the colors tweaked to match the new scheme of the figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Beast Wars was on the air when I started to get into cartoons, and I was certainly familiar with it and how it connected to this whole Transformers thing.  I even had a few of the toys, but it never quite clicked with me.  What did click for me was Transformers: Armada, which I actually watched pretty darn faithfully when it was airing on Cartoon Network.  I had a small number of the toys, with Hot Shot being a personal favorite.  While Cybertron wasn’t quite so much my jaam as Armada, I’ll take pretty much any excuse to get a good Hot Shot toy.  And that’s what I’d classify this as: a good Hot Shot toy.  Of course, now I’m seriously contemplating third party pieces to make him more accurate, and that’s a very dangerous and scary road to go down.

I grabbed my Hot Shot figrue from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2240: Astrotrain

ASTROTRAIN

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Alright, we’ve had a couple of mix and match weeks, how about another theme week?  I’ve got a bunch of Transformers stacking up, so let’s go for a week of those, shall we?  Last year’s main line was Siege, the first entry in the announced War For Cybertron trilogy.  It’s technically wrapped up, but I’m still making my way through some of its final entries.  I looked at the line’s first triple changer, Springer, over the summer, and now I’ll be taking a look at arguably a slightly more memorable character, Astrotrain!  He’s a train, a space shuttle, and a robot all in one!  Yay!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Astrotrain is actually bridging the gap between Siege and its follow-up Earthrise.  He was initially offered in the final Leader Class assortment of Siege, but was also included in Earthrise‘s first Leader assortment.  The two figures are functionally identical, but it’s worth noting that my figure is the Siege release.  Like a lot of the Siege stuff, Astrotrain is based on his G1 design, although in his case, it’s not so much his G1 toy design as it is his G1 animation design, which used a rather different color scheme than the original toy, more of a rarity when it comes to the actual toys.  In his robot mode, Astrotrain stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and has 22 workable points of articulation.  He continues the Siege Leader trend of being a Voyager sized robot with a bunch of add-ons to justify the price point.  In his robot mode, he’s scaled to fit with the rest of the Decepticons, which of course means he ends up with a kind of small pair of vehicle modes, but that’s true of pretty much any toy version of the character, since the cartoon never really explained how Astrotrain was the same general size as everyone else as a robot, but then large enough to carry all of those same bots inside of him when in his shuttle mode.  I think I’m getting sidelined.  Astrotrain’s robot mode sculpt is quite a solid piece of work, recreating his animation design, and making for a quite nicely designed figure in his own right.  He’s definitely a bit more on the greebly side of things for a Siege toy, but for Astrotrain, I think it works.  Astrotrain’s first alt-mode makes up the “Astro” half of his name, being a space shuttle.  It’s a pretty sleek transformation process, even for (increasingly less of) a Transformers novice like me, and certainly much more satisfying than my last triple changer.  The shuttle mode is probably the most compromised of the three, being the middle point between the other two.  There are some definite changes to the general aesthetics of the shuttle, but it works overall and hits all the important notes.  What becomes the tender of the train mode is in this mode a launch pad for the shuttle, which is a nice piece of environmental set-up.  The last mode for this figure is the “Train” portion of the name.  Again, the transformation is quite a sleek and pretty easy to figure out, and the resulting train mode is probably my favorite of the three.  It’s not often the vehicle mode is my favorite mode of a Transformer, but here we are.  Astrotrain includes a sizable assortment of weapons, which the instructions identify as 2 “JF-50 Ionic Displacer Blasters,” “JF-30 Astro Blaster,” “W-15 Destabilizer Cannon,” and a “W-40 Turbo-Core Derailer”.  Heh, “derailer.”  That’s pretty funny.  All of the guns can be combined into one larger cannon, or used individually, or even combined into smaller combos, befitting the line’s modular nature.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

If I’m entirely honest, the final portion of Siege announcements didn’t do all that much for me, an only moderate Transformers fan.  While I’m happy for fans who were getting the more obscure characters like Spinister or Apeface,  I can’t say they particularly appealed to me.  However, Astrotrain was the one exception within that batch of announcements, being a character I was actually familiar with off-hand, and one I cared to own as well.  After my slightly disappointing first triple-changer experience with Springer, I was hesitant, but Astrotrain pulls it off a bit better, and is actually the first transformer I’ve kept in vehicle mode while up on the shelf.  This guy kind of surprised me.

I picked up Astrotrain from my friends All Time Toys, where the Earthrise release is currently in stock here.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2239: Stormtrooper

STORMTROOPER

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“Within the Death Star, a group of Imperial stormtroopers are in hot pursuit of Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca, as they attempt to return to the impounded Millennium Falcon. But the heroic escapees blast away before the shock troops have a chance to return fire.”

Throughout the entirety of the vintage Star Wars line, we got exactly one basic Stormtrooper.  Just one take on a design that was present across all three of the original films (in the line’s defense, the same can be said of Darth Vader and Chewbacca; if the design didn’t drastically change, Kenner didn’t do a new figure.  Only R2 and 3PO got by, largely do to new gimmicks introduced in the later films).  For Power of the Force II, the same was almost true.  We got the standard Stormtrooper in ’95, and that steroid abusing fiend was it for four years.  But, just as the line was winding down, we managed to get an honest to god update, which I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Stormtrooper was released in 1999 as part of the Power of the Force II Commlink assortment which was at stores alongside the Phantom Menace product.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  Yes, you read that articulation count correctly; this guy’s probably the most articulated standard release figure that the PotF2 line ever put out.  Not only does this guy get actual, proper knees, he also gets cut joints at the elbows, and even a universal joint on his neck.  He can look up!  It’s a long way from the vintage Stormtroopers and their complete lack of neck articulation, I’ll tell you that much.  This sculpt would end up re-used more than a few times going forward, including for the Marvel Comics-styled trooper I looked at a little while back.  While I was a little down on that figure (due largely to it being released 7 years after this one), in the context of the line that spawned it, it’s actually quite a nice sculpt, and it’s understandable why Hasbro clung to it for so long.  The paintwork for the figure is pretty solid, and like the sculpt is generally an improvement over the Stormtrooper that preceded it.  It’s also an early example of Hasbro experimenting with thermodynamic paint, allowing the figure to take some damage to his armor when dipped in cold water.  The Stormtrooper is packed with a long blaster (which, like the Marvel-styled figure, he can’t quite hold right) and a weapons rack to store it on as well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The last assortment of PotF2 figures wasn’t one I recall seeing much of (although I did get the Han figure as a kid), so this guy isn’t one I had growing up.  He was added to my collection during one of my big buying sprees of PotF2 figures in late 2018.  He’s sort of an odd figure for the line, because he’s objectively one of the best, but on the flip side, it means that when later versions replaced him, he didn’t have that same nostalgic bend to fall back on.  That being said, he’s still a cool figure.

#2238: Trapjaw

TRAPJAW

MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE (MATTEL)

Evil & armed for combat”

It’s been a stretch since I’ve looked at anything Masters of the Universe.  With it being pretty much the only major property Mattel’s got going for them (on the action figure front, at least; they’ve still got Mega Construx, Hot Wheels, and Barbie, I guess), and they’re supposedly trying to relaunch the brand again this year.  Until that line launches, I’ve got my love the 200x line to keep me warm.  I’ve got a pretty decent little collection of that line, so I’m dusting one of those off for review today.  Let’s have a look at Trapjaw!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Trapjaw was released in the second assortment of Evil Warriors as part of the 2002 Masters of the Universe relaunch (though, as part of said second assortment, he didn’t actually hit until 2003).  He was released alongside a Skeletor Variant and the previously reviewed Tri-Klops.  The figure stands a little under 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 13 workable points of articulation.  Technically, there’s a joint on his jaw as well, but it’s spring loaded, so it doesn’t really hold a pose (though I was able to keep it open long enough for the photo at the top of this review).  Like most of the 200x line, Trapjaw was sporting a unique sculpt, in contrast to his original figure, which used the same torso as everyone else and shared his legs with Roboto and Man-E-Faces.  Nope, this guy was all new.  Like a number of the figures I’ve looked at, Trapjaw was well-served by the divergent sculpts, as he was able to lean more heavily into the “mutilated cyborg” elements of the character.  The end result is far more imposing design than the one from the ’80s, making another member of Skeletor’s band seem like a genuine threat, rather than just another pea-brained buffoon.  Of course, then the cartoon went and made him a buffoon anyway…guess you can’t win them all.  There are a lot of really fun little details worked into this figure, including the stitching on his torso, which adds to that general “Frankenstiened” feeling of this upgraded design.  Trapjaw’s paintwork is pretty decent, being a little more detailed than some of his compatriots.  He takes the general basics of the classic design, but tones them down ever so slightly to make them fit better with the sculpt.  The application’s all pretty sharp, and he doesn’t leave as many details unpainted as some of the other figures in the line.  Trapjaw included three different robot arm attachments.  The main one is a claw, with some extra articulation worked in.  He’s also got a hook, as well as a gun attachment.  They swap out pretty easily and all fit well with the rest of the arm, and can even be stowed on his belt or his back.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Last year, when All Time got in a rather large 200x Masters collection, I was already invested in getting Buzz-Off and Man-At-Arms, but hadn’t quite jumped on the Trapjaw figure.  Jason told me that if I was getting any 200x Masters, I really needed at Trapjaw, because he’s one of the best.  After finally getting this guy for myslef, I can’t disagree with that assessment.  Definitely one of the line’s best, even if Trapjaw isn’t one of my personal favorite characters.