#2413: Soundwave Spy Patrol 3

FRENZY, KNOK, WINGTHING, & SKAR

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: EARTHRISE (HASBRO)

And yet another new item.  Wow, we are just rolling through these new boys, aren’t we?  For what it’s worth, there’s a week of time between Black Widow/Probe Droid and Drake, and then another week from Drake to today’s subject, even though there’s been no gap for you, the readers.  I’ve just been sitting here worried I was gonna have to dig into my old toys again.  I think I might be losing my grip on the now….where was I?  Or, more accurately, *when* was I?  Eh?  Time traveler thing? …Yeah, it’s really not that funny.  Sorry, I’ve not really had real people to run these things by as of late.  …the toys…should review the toys!  Yes, so the toys for today are some more Transformers.  It’s been over a month, so it’s probably time for some more of those!  I’m on record as being quite a Soundwave fan, and something that kind of accompanies that is the need to pick up his support crew, whatever their current alt-mode may be (since cassettes are so passe), and I’ll be taking a look at Soundwave’s Spy Patrol 3 today!  What happened to 2?  Don’t make me hurt you!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This four-pack is one of the online-only (in theory, at least) Transformers Generations: Selects offerings, officially falling under the Earthrise heading.  As I noted when I reviewed fellow Selects offering Hot Shot, these figures make use of minimal new tooling in order to accent the main retail lines.  Though listed as “Soundwave Spy Patrol,” only two of the figures included here are actually really meant for Soundwave, with the other two intended to go along with the Earthrise Doubledealer figure.  All four are technically compatible with Soundwave (and Soundblaster), of course.

FRENZY

One of the original four cassettes, released along with Soundwave in 1984, Frenzy quite frequently receives the short end of the stick on newer releases.  This figure follows that lead, since when it came time to release one of the two humanoid cassette bots, it was Rumble who got first dibs as part of the Spy Patrol 2 set.  Of course, with that set being practically non-existent for most collectors (myself included), maybe Frenzy’s not in quite as bad shape.  In robot mode, he stands just over 2 inches tall and has 9 workable points of articulation.  As one would expect, what with the two characters being always built on the same molds and all, Frenzy is the same sculpt as Rumble.  This is my first exposure to it, and I dig it overall.  Compared to a lot of the Siege and Earthrise stuff, he’s not quite as sleek, but given his alt-more is just a box, I guess a little bit of boxiness is certainly excusable.  He’s also a bit less of an outright figure of his own than the TR-style Frenzy from the Bumblebee cassettes pack, but with the smaller scaling, I find that to be fairly excusable.  Like all of the Spy Patrol guys, Frenzy turns into a definitely-not-a-cassette rectangle, designed to fit in Soundwave’s chest compartment.  I had heard that he was a little too large to properly fit, but I didn’t find this to be an issue with mine, though I did notice he was a little snugger in there then Ravage and Laserbeak.  Not by much, though.

WINGTHING

After the original four cassettes were released, there was one additional cassette added in 1986, Ratbat.  Ratbat made his way into the Siege line proper alongside Rumble, but much like the Rumble/Frenzy re-use, we also get a re-use of the Ratbat mold here as Wingthing, Soundwave’s Action Master partner, who has subsequently been re-worked into another of his cassette boys.  In bat-mode, Wingthing stands an inch and a quarter tall, and has a moving neck, wings, and feet.  His robot mode is decent, but not super posable, or really posable at all, for that matter.  Mostly, the joints are just there to facilitate the transformation scheme.  He’s kind of rudimentary, and doesn’t stand so well, but it’s a cool enough visual, I suppose.  This body’s transformation turns it into less of cassette-esque box than the previous molds.  Said box is even larger than the one Frenzy turns into, so there’s really no way to put it into Soundwave’s chest capacity, which is a definite bummer.

KNOK

Okay, now we jump into the “not technically cassette bots” segment of this set.  First up is Knok, who was originally Doubledealer’s Autobot powermaster, but has now been made a Decepticon, at least according to the instructions included here.  It’s okay, though, because he’s without any sort of insignia, so he can kind of be whatever you want.  Structurally, he’s pretty much the same as Frenzy, but with a new head (one of two new pieces included in the set).  Using the same sculpt as Frenzy means he’s as good as Frenzy, so I can definitely dig that.  Interestingly, in my case, I found that Knok actually fits into Soundwave’s chest cavity even a bit better than Frenzy.

SKAR

Last up is Doubledealer’s other powermaster, Knok’s Decepticon equivalent, Skar.  Skar makes use of the same basic mold as Wingthing/Ratbat.  He’s got a new head (the other new part in the set), but is otherwise identical.  So, you know, same basic issues that I outlined about the mold just above.  Not really my favorite.  He changes up the colors into something more classically decepticon-y, so that’s cool.  Again, he’s got no insignia, but he’s correctly labeled as a Decepticon.  Whatever the case, he can again be what you want.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I never saw the Rumble/Ratbat set once, and I was definitely a little bummed about missing out on the Rumble mold.  I was kinda holding out hope for the Frenzy re-deco, though, so this set’s announcement did make me a little happier.  I was even happier when I was actually able to secure one.  It’s funny, because I realized I’ve inexplicably ended up with a Frenzy to go with each of my main Soundwaves.  I’m okay with that.  Knok is pretty cool by virtue of being more or less the same figure as Frenzy.  Wingthing and Skar, I’m not quite as into.  They aren’t bad, nut they aren’t as cleverly designed as the cassettes, made worse by the fact that they aren’t actually compatible with the cassette feature.  Still, a 50/50 split on this set isn’t the worst.

Thanks to All Time Toys for setting me up with these guys to review.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2378: Shatter

SHATTER

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

Shatter uses the powerful satellites of Sector 7 to hunt down Bumblebee.”

Alright, I’ve wrapped up what I’ve got of Earthrise for review.  So, for the last two entries in this Transformers-theme week, I’ll be jumping over to the live-action movie side of things.  As is usually the case when I jump into things related to the live-action Transformers films, I will be focusing on 2018’s soft reboot of the franchise, Bumblebee.  Last month, I took a look at one of the film’s two primary antagonists, Dropkick.  Today, I’ll be looking at his superior officer, Shatter!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Shatter is a Deluxe Class-scaled Studio Series release, numbered 59 in the line.  As I discussed in my review of Dropkick, the two villains in Bumblebee are both triple-changers, something that’s not very easily replicated in the Studio Series style, given how much they pride themselves in the accuracy of the alt-modes.  For both Dropkick and Shatter, Hasbro opted to just do two versions of both.  Shatter’s muscle car mode was up first, and was, similar to Dropkick’s first release, based on an earlier version of the robot mode, and therefore not super accurate.  This one replicates her look after she acquires her jet mode, and aims to be a better pairing with the superior second Dropkick.  In her robot mode, Shatter stands just shy of 5 inches tall and has 15 practical points of articulation.  Shatter is definitely on the restricted side when it comes to posability, but that’s overall been the case for the Studio offerings.  That said, what articulation she does have works well, and she wasn’t as restricted as I’d expected at first glance.  It’s worth noting that, unlike most Transformers, Shatter doesn’t come out of the box fully transformed into robot mode.  There’s a few additional steps required to get her there, which can be slightly tricky if you don’t know quite what you’re doing (like me).  Once that’s done, she’s a quite respectable recreation of Shatter’s movie appearance.  Of note is the ability to see her actual face, something that the previous Studio Shatter lacked.  She also works in the remnant car details of the robot mode, which she kept after taking on the third mode, unlike the helicopter Dropkick.  She also includes blaster attachments for both of her arms, which work in a fairly rudimentary fashion (she just holds them like guns), but look good nonetheless.  Shatter’s alt-mode is a Harrier Jet, which this figure more or less turns into.  There are a few details changed on the final design, as I don’t believe this mode is officially licensed like most of the Studio Series releases are.  There are extra fins in a few spots, which is really the only difference.  It’s still a nice alt-mode, and doesn’t end up with any ugly under carriages or anything like some plane transformers end up stuck with.  The transformation isn’t too bad for a Studio figure, and certainly not as fiddly as Shatter’s last release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wanted to have a Shatter and Dropkick in my collection after seeing the movie, but I was ultimately not impressed with either of their initial figures.  Once this figure was shown off, I was definitely far more interested, especially after managing to get ahold of car Dropkick.  She ended up coming into All Time in a shipment on her own, along with the previously reviewed Earthrise stuff, and found her way into my “wait out this lengthy time at home” purchase.

As I noted above,  I got Shatter from my friends at All Time Toys, and she’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.

#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.

#2243: Megatron

CLASSIC ANIMATION MEGATRON

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

See, we’re kind of doing this one and one deal with me and Super Awesome Wife reviewing the Transformers now.  Why?  Well, because as she’s pointed out to me, legally the site is half hers now, so there’s not a lot I can do to stop it.  Guess this is just my life now.

At the beginning of me falling down the Transformers rabbit-hole, there was one major obstacle to overcome to get me really into that Transformers mind-set: owning an Optimus Prime.  Well now I have four of those.  You know who I still didn’t own a single figure of, though?  Optimus’s opposite number from the Decepticon side, Megatron.  Well, that changes today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Like yesterday’s Optimus figure, plus the Soundblaster and Silverstreak  Bluestreak from last week, this guy is part of the Walmart exclusive “35th Anniversary Commemorative Series” sub-line of Siege figures, which started showing up on shelves towards the end of October.  While Silversteak Bluestreak and Soundblaster were more conventional re-decos, Prime and Megatron are based on the cel-animated appearances from the G1 cartoon, which gives them a fairly distinctive flair.  Like Prime, Megatron is a re-deco of his Voyager Series 1 release from the beginning of the year.  Unlike Prime, that makes him totally new to me, since that’s one of the few Siege items I never got around to picking up.  In robot mode, the figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 26 practical points of articulation.  Much like his counterpart Optimus, Megatron’s sculpt aims to be an idealized version of the G1 toy…more or less.  As with any modern update of Megatron, there are some needed changes, which I’ll touch on more when I get to his alt-mode.  The robot mode is pretty posable, though compared to Prime, it’s a little more restricted.  Not terribly so, and a lot of it owes more to his actual character design than to any design choices on the toy itself.  Compared to Prime, Megatron doesn’t have quite a clean and polished look, with slightly more deviation from that G1 animation design.  All of the important notes, are there, of course, but he’s more prone to some creative liberties, such as the far more obtrusive “backpack” that houses the alt-mode parts when he a robot.  It’s not a terrible way of handling things, but it’s also not as clean as the way Optimus does things.  Additionally, there are a couple of hollow spots on this figure, which Optimus mostly avoided.  That being said, Megatron still makes for a pretty solid robot.  The new paint scheme here is a major departure from the standard.  As a whole, he’s brighter, more eye-catching, and cleaner than the prior release.  He’s also got a cool, very artistic look, which simulates the cel-shading of animation.  While I felt that both Optimus figures were of a similar quality, seeing the updated Megatron really did a lot to salvage this particular figure in my eyes.  Now, about that alt-mode.  Megatron joins many others in losing his original G1 alt-mode, which was an accurate recreation of a Walther P-38 pistol.  With current safety laws, there’s absolutely no way that would fly, so this figure’s alt-mode is a tank, which has more or less become his accepted modern-day alt-mode.  The shift to tank from gun obviously requires some changing of the robot mode, but the figure manages to balance both alright.  The tank transformation is actually pretty straight forward, and I was able to get it most of the way without the instructions, so that’s good.  It’s a fairly cool looking design, and feels imposing enough to associate with a character like Megatron.  Megatron is packed with his usual arm cannon, as well as a large sword that calls back to the original Takara release, both of which are worked into the transformation.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As much as Optimus impressed me, I just never could bring myself to drop the money for the standard Siege Megatron.  I wasn’t trying to avoid the character on purpose, though, and I wanted a good one for my collection, so I was looking at other options.  I even considered picking up the Combat Megatron, but that seemed too drastrically different for me.  When I first spotted the 35th Anniversary figures, I did think this guy looked pretty slick, but ultimately held off.  But guess who didn’t.  Did you guess Max?  Yeah.  He bought one, and brought it into the store and let me mess around with it, at which point I pretty much knew I wanted one for myself.  And here we are.  Honestly, he’s a lot better than I’d expected, and he feels like he sort of completes a very important piece of my collection, so I’m glad I decided to give Megatron another try.

#2239: Soundblaster

SOUNDBLASTER

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Who doesn’t love a good re-deco? Well, Super Awesome Wife probably doesn’t love this one quite so much because I told her she couldn’t review it.  I know, I’m mean like that. Much as I am ever tempted to just let her take over the reviews of Transformers as a whole for this site (or at the very least, all of the many re-decos), I’ve lain claim to today’s particular figure because it’s a variant of my boy Soundwave, and I just couldn’t not review a Soundwave.  It feels wrong.  So, what’s the deal with this one?  Well, the original Soundwave was released in 1985, alongside the other first round Transformers.  In 1987, Hasbro’s Japanese equivalent Takara, whose Transformers line had generally followed the same structure as the American, introduced the “Headmasters” line, which would tie-in with the Japan-exclusive “Headmasters” cartoon.  Soundwave wound up with an upgrade, now dubbed Soundblaster.  Though his initial figure wasn’t released in America, Soundblaster has become a go-to variant for Soundwave figures ever since, and Hasbro opted to add him to their celebration of the 35th anniversary of Transformers.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundblaster is one of the four figures in the “35th Anniversary Commemorative Edition” line-up of Siege.  The assortment is a Walmart-exclusive, and started showing up around the end of October.  All four figures included are re-decos, with Soundblaster being, unsurprisingly, a re-deco of the Voyager Class Siege Soundwave from earlier this year.  That figure’s fairly G1 faithful roots make it a solid choice for re-use here, and pretty much everyone was expecting to see it at some point.  It’s worth noting that he’s not actually a straight repaint; to be a proper representation of Soundblaster, he does get the appropriate re-tooled cassette door, which now can hold two cassettes instead of just one at a time.  Additionally, some of the tolerances on this release’s joints seem a little better, and the shoulder cannon seems to sit better this time around.  Other than that, he’s the same figure, and minor issues with the mold aside, I’m okay with that.  The new color scheme actually really does pop on this mold.  The black is slick looking, and boy do I love those new red eyes.  The new deco on the tape deck is also really eye-catching.  Soundblaster’s alt-mode is the same as the previous figure.  Honestly, it’s the one part of the Soundwave figure I wasn’t that big on.  As nice as he is in robot mode, this just feels a little…tacked on?  I don’t know.  I’ve had six months to get used to it, and I still don’t really care for it.  It’s not the end of the world, and you can still form the pseudo-boombox fan-mode.  Plus, I just don’t see myself ever displaying him any way but as a robot.  Soundblaster is packed with the same assortment of weapons as the first release, but done up to match his new deco.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Going into the 35th Anniversary line-up, Soundblaster was really the only one I was interested in.  At this point, you know I didn’t stick to that, but hey, I tried.  He was the second of them I found, and I was honestly pretty darn thrilled about it.  He’s not all that different from the Soundwave figure, but I wasn’t expecting that to be the case.  Plus, I did really love the first figure, so I’m still a real fan of the second one too.  He’s a good pick for this line-up.

#2216: Barricade

BARRICADE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

While I have mostly left the discussion of Transformers that are really just re-decos to other reviewers, I did touch on it a little bit back when I reviewed Red Alert.  Of course, the difference between the likes of Red Alert and the Seekers and today’s re-deco is that while the former grouping is all characters who are classically re-decos, the latter isn’t even a classic character at all.  The Decepticon Barricade was first introduced into the lore in the 2007 live-action film, in a role that was originally meant to go to Soundwave (which is why he interacts with Frenzy), and was designed as a subversion of good-guy Prowl’s usual role as the police car.  In 2012, fan artist Guido Guidi did a G1-styled illustration of Barricade patterned after Prowl (sensible, what with them having the same alt-mode and all), which Hasbro liked enough to make it an official thing. And here we are with a G1-style Barricade figure, a re-deco of a Prowl figure.  Yay?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Barricade is the third and final unique figure in the fourth deluxe class assortment of Siege figures, with the Weaponizer Six-Gun figure getting a re-pack in the final slot.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 22 workable points of articulation.  For the most part, Barricade is sculpturally identical to the Prowl figure from Deluxe Wave 2.  Prowl was my surprise favorite from that line-up, and a lot of that has to do with how the body was implemented, so it means that Barricade’s already starting from a strong point.  He does get a new head, which he will be sharing with the Generation Selects Smokescreen figure.  It’s suitably different from Prowl’s head, while still hitting a lot of the same notes.  Whatever the case, it injects a little bit more variety into the Prowl mold, which is probably a good thing, since we’re getting four figures out of it.  Barricade’s main change-up is the colors, which for his robot mode are quite different, since he’s got a lot of purple, which is admittedly a very Decepticon color to have. He’s almost an inverted color scheme to Prowl, who was predominately light with dark, where as Barricade is dark with light.  Barricade’s alt-mode is pretty much the same as Prowl’s, as it should be, but again the colors are changed up, and the inverting is even more noticeable here.  Also, unlike Prowl, who was clean of damage, Barricade has wear right on either side of the front of the car, indicating he likes to run other vehicles off the road a lot.  That’s a nifty touch, and far more character-specific than the other damage we’ve seen.  Barricade does change things up a bit on the armaments front.  Rather than getting the same blaster as Prowl, he gets a pair of shoulder-mountable cannons, which can be combined into a handheld weapon.  Classically, the cannons are actually a Prowl thing, but they were missing from the last figure.  Fear not, though, as they will be coming in white with Smokescreen, meaning Prowl will be able to have them again.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I liked Prowl a lot, and so that was enough to sway me on Barricade I guess.  Well, that and Max setting the whole assortment aside for me.  That helped too.  I don’t have a ton to say about this guy.  He didn’t surprise me, because I knew what I was getting.  What I was getting was a solid toy, though, so that’s always a plus.

Barricade came 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.

#2105: Refraktor

REFRAKTOR

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

It wasn’t entirely uncommon for characters to debut in toy-based-media tie-ins before actually getting their toys.  A good number of major G.I. Joe characters showed up in the comics and the cartoons first, as did Shockwave from the Transformers.  However, it usually means that the toy isn’t far behind.  Not so much the case with the Decepticon three-man camera team, Reflector.  Despite early appearances in the cartoon, the set didn’t get a US release until 1986, and only as a mail-in offer at that.  Further confusing matters was that the three unique bots featured on the toy didn’t so much match-up with the three identical bots from the show.  Now, Hasbro’s further muddying the water, and selling a single-packed Reflector (now dubbed “Refraktor”), and leaving it up to fans to decide how many they want…or at least they were until they confirmed that three-pack at SDCC.  See, it keeps getting confusing.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Refraktor is the last new figure in the Series 3 Deluxe Class line-up for Siege.  There’s a fourth figure in the assortment, but it’s just a re-pack of the Series 1 Hound figure.  Refraktor is just a single figure, based on the singular animated design, which was in turn based on Viewfinder, the central component to Reflector.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 25 functioning points of articulation.  The sculpt is kind of rudimentary and basic, which, to be fair, is pretty accurate to the animation model.  It’s well suited to the army-building purposes the show suggests, and the more rudimentary nature of the sculpt allows for more of a focus on the articulation and how it’s implemented.  Refraktor’s one of the most posable figures in the line, especially when it comes to the arms and shoulders.  It definitely makes for a very playable figure.  The solo Refraktor’s alt-mode is an “artillery hovercraft”…and that’s really all I can say about it.  It’s not particularly inventive or all that exciting.  It’s just kind of a brick with a blaster on the end.  It’s clearly not supposed to be the main alt-mode.  What is the main alt-mode?  Well, if you’ve got three Refraktors on hand, you can follow the original toy’s lead and combine the three into a full-scale camera mode, with a tripod and everything.  It’s quite convincing, and even without actual instructions, it’s a pretty easy conversion.  More so than any of the other hidden alt-modes we’ve seen in Siege, this one feels like the one the figure was actually designed for, with the second being something that could be achieved in order to give the solo figure something to do without the other two.  Each Refraktor is packed with a blaster and a shield, which combine with the same pieces from the other two to form the tripod and lens of the camera, respectively.  Additionally, the circle on the front of the torso can be removed to denote whether the Refraktor shown is Viewfinder or one of the other two.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Refraktor was certainly not initially on my list of Siege figures I was intending to get.  He’s just outside the realm of Transformers I knew off-hand, and the whole “you have to buy three of them” thing seemed like a bit much to me.  But I was already grabbing Brunt and Red Alert (as well as quite a few other Hasbro items that hit at the same time) and I had the opportunity to get three right off the bat, so I decided to go for it.  As a single figure, he’s kind of pointless.  With three in play, he makes a lot more sense and is a far more satisfying offering.  It’s not really surprising that Hasbro’s already got a three-pack release on the books.

I picked up my three Refraktors 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.

#2103: Brunt

BRUNT

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

The gimmick of Hasbro’s latest iteration of the Transformers brand is cross-compatibility, and this is manifested no more succinctly than in the Weaponizers, figures whose primary purpose is to augment other figures.  So far, we’ve had two Autobot Weaponizers, and I guess the Decepticons were getting a little jealous.  The latest is finally one of theirs, Brunt, who I’ll be taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Brunt is part of the third series of Deluxe Class figures from Siege.  As will all of the Weaponizers so far, Brunt began his life as an accessory to a larger Transformer, specifically Trypticon, whose 2018 update Brunt was absent from.  Interestingly, the original Brunt didn’t actually have a robot mode, switching between tank and towers.  This figure introduces a robot mode, based on the Centurion droid from the Stormbringer miniseries.  In said robot mode, Brunt stands 5 1/4 inches tall and has 22 points of articulation.  The sculpt is small, but quite stocky, and he’s certainly on the blockier side of things.  Fitting enough, what with him being a literal tank and all. After being slightly disappointed by Cog’s notable hollowness in a few spots, I was happy to see that Brunt is a much more solidly constructed figure.  It means he’s a little on the shorter side, but I prefer things this way, truth be told. Brunt continues the somewhat inhuman trend among the Weaponizers, but for a Decepticon it feels a little bit less out of place.  Like his original “figure,” Brunt’s vehicle-mode is a tank, and like the other Weaponizers, it’s achieved not so much through actual transforming, but rather disassembling and reassembling in a different configuration.  It’s a little more intuitive with Brunt, largely due to there being less little tiny pieces to move around, and possibly due to my own familiarity with the style of Transformer increasing.  There’s one notable issue in transforming him, though; the way his arms work, it’s very easy to accidentally pop them off at the wrong peg when swapping him back and forth, and once you’ve done it once, it’s very easy to do it again, and a little difficult to get the arm back together again.  Brunt also has the ability to turn into additional weaponry and armor for his fellow Decepticons.  There are two shown configurations, and I myself quite like the one with the big claw arms.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After getting on board the whole Weaponizer train with Six Gun, I was definitely intrigued by Brunt, especially his robot mode’s design.  Of all the Series 3 Deluxes, he was definitely the one I was most excited for, and after getting them in-hand, he remains my favorite of the bunch.  There’s quite a bit to like about this guy, and I look forward to seeing other possible options for Weaponizers.

I picked up Brunt 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.

 

#2032: Starscream

STARSCREAM

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Ever the usurper, Starscream is quite a culturally relevant entry in the Transformers franchise.  Not only is he himself well-known, even to more moderate fans, but the role he fulfills has become a fixture of virtually every incarnation, even when he himself isn’t included.  And, after just getting a classically inspired release during last year’s Power of the Primes, Starscream’s back again for Siege.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Starscream is the other half of the second wave of Voyager Class War For Cybertron: Siege figures.  He joins Soundwave in making this particular assortment a completely Decepticon one, which seems reasonable enough, given the Deluxe assortment was all Autobots.  In his robot mode, Starscream stands  6 1/4 inches tall and he has 28 workable points of articulation.  This figure sports perhaps the best posability I’ve seen yet on one of these guys, allowing for a lot of real expressiveness with him.  Honestly, that’s probably the greatest thing you can offer in a Starscream figure, given just how over-the-top the character is usually portrayed as being.  Moving past that, Starscream is sporting a new sculpt, which is already slated for re-use as Thundercracker in Voyager Wave 3, as well as a Skywarp figure somewhere along the way.  If you’re going to re-use a sculpt, you’d hope it would at least be a good one, and fortunately, that’s very definitely the case.  This new Starscream has a sharp, angular, and very modern-looking take on his classic design.  Like Soundwave, he maintains all of the most important elements of his classic appearance, but injects some more modern day levels of detailing into it.  Also like Soundwave, he keeps some left-over elements of his old alt-mode, specifically the old cockpit on his torso, which doesn’t actually have anywhere to go on his new figure.  To be fair, though, he’d hardly look like a proper Starscream without it.  Unlike a lot of Transformers, Starscream and his fellow Seekers actually have established Cybertronian alt-modes in the old cartoon, which means that this figure doesn’t have to do quite as much as some of the others in the line to come up with one.  He turns into a Tetrajet, as he did in the Cybertron sections of the cartoon, though this particular design appears to be heavily influenced by the Colonial Vipers from Battlestar Galactica.  It’s a cool ship design, so I definitely can’t complain.  Heck, I’m not even going to to complain about the fact that his legs are just hanging off the bottom when he’s transformed, because, quite frankly, that’s not uncommon for Starscream figures, and it’s not overly visible when the ship is just sitting there.  What I *can* complain about, though, is the process by which you arrive at the alt-mode.  Quite frankly, it’s the most frustrating transformation process I’ve dealt with since I started collecting.  Essentially, the actual Tetrajet appearance is just a shell that drops over the figure proper, who has to be folded up just right in order to fit in that shell.  The trouble is, that getting him folded up to fit within the shell is really not easy, and my figure seemed to be fighting me every step of the way, and I’m still not actually sure I got him transformed completely correctly.  Additionally, while going through the transformation process, there’s a running flaw in the figure’s design that reveals itself.  The front of his torso is designed to swing upward during transformation, but it is only held in place by tension pegs.  This means that the first time you go to transform him, the plate’s going to pop out of place, and it’s pretty much never going to stay properly seated again after that point.  There really should have been metal pins holding that piece in place.  Starscream includes two “HPI Null-Ray Laser Launchers,” which are the arm mounted guns he’s sporting.  While they’re officially supposed to plug into the upper arms, the 5mm pegs allow you to also plug them into the forearms, which I think looks a lot better.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I knew I wanted Soundwave from the get-go, but wasn’t immediately sold on Starscream.  It’s not that I don’t like the character (quite the contrary), but I just wasn’t sure how far into this line I wanted to go.  By the time he actually started showing up, any pretense of skipping this line had been dropped, and there was no way I was missing a Starscream.  In hand, the figure perplexes me.  The robot mode is absolutely fantastic, and one of the best in the line.  The posablility and general appearance of the character just really work.  However, the transformation is frustrating, and the end result was ultimately unsatisfying.  And then, even if you just leave him in robot mode, there’s that chest plate issue, which will continue to plague him in both forms.  There have been rumors of a running change to add a pin, but so far there’s no evidence that they’re anything but rumors.  Of course, none of that’s going to help those of us that already have him.

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

#2031: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Now, I don’t want you guys to be getting the impression that just because I’m done reviewing the Wave 2 Deluxe class figures means that I’m done with this here week of Transformers.  No no, I’ve still got plenty of transformers up my sleeves.  Or maybe they *are* my sleeves…hard to tell with Transformers.  Has there ever been a sleeve Transformer?  Probably not, but with Bot Bots, anything’s possible these days…  Sorry, I’m getting distracted.  And this is the worst Transformers review to get distracted from, because it’s a pretty big one.  I mean, it’s another Soundwave.  How often do I review one of those?  What’s that?  Two this year already?  Well, if that’s the case, one more certainly couldn’t hurt.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave is one of the two figures in the second Voyager Class wave of the War For Cybertron: Siege line.  Soundwave is only the second Decepticon I’ve looked at from this line, after the confusingly similarly named Shockwave, who will join this figure in forever baffling all of my Transformers novice family and friends over which one is which.  In robot mode, the figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 25 practical points of articulation.  Like pretty much everyone else in this line, Soundwave’s design calls back to his original G1 look, but updated a bit to more modern toy standards.  Soundwave had the coolest look of all the G1 Transformers (I may be slightly biased), and I think that comes across pretty darn well here.  He maintains all of the basic design cues of his classic counterpart (including adopting some of the old figure’s alt-mode elements that no longer contribute to the alt-mode), while adding quite a few smaller details to keep things sharp and interesting.  It also way ups the posablility, which is always a plus in my book.  I’m also really digging the left hand’s extended index finger, allowing for interaction with the latch for his “tape deck”.  It’s not all perfect, mind you.  There are a few things that do bug me.  Primarily, it’s the forearms.  They’re hollow on the insides, which bugs me far more than the hollow backing on Ironhide.  It’s not helped by the fact that he’s got some weird kibble going on on the backs of the forearms as well, which means two sides of the arms are compromised.  It’s not enough to ruin the figure, but it’s definitely annoying.  I’m also not the biggest fan of the back kibble, but that’s at least a more aesthetically pleasing solution.  Soundwave’s typical alt-mode, a cassette player, is outmoded by today’s world.  There’s been a number of attempts at giving him a replacement alt-mode, and this one is yet another.  He turns into a sort of a…drop ship thing?  I’m not big on it.  I mean, the concept’s okay, and, admittedly, I do like how it looks more in person than I’d expected to.  But something about the design just feels…I don’t know…half-formed?  More than a lot of the vehicles in this line, he looks like a brick with stuck on it, but unlike with Ironhide, I don’t really dig it.  It’s also not nearly as easy a transformation as some of the others, meaning the whole thing isn’t really ideal, and I really don’t see myself switching him back and forth at all.  If you don’t like the drop ship, Hasbro’s got a semi-official secondary alt-mode, which turns Soundwave into the lamppost he disguises himself as in the first episode of the ’84 cartoon.  Again, I don’t really feel the transformation myself, but I appreciate what Hasbro’s trying.  What’s that?  Neither of those alt-modes does it for you?  Have no fear, because the fan community is on it, resulting in a fairly widely-accepted third alt-mode, which has a sort of a speaker/boombox appearance.  It’s actually not too difficult to configure, and is by far my favorite potential alt-mode.  The only shame is that the cassette player buttons on his pelvis aren’t visible in this mode, but it’s a minor flaw.  Soundwave is packed with a HI-KEP Concussion Blaster, LR-HD Sonic Cannon, and EMTX Blitz Charge Blaster, all of which can also combine (rather awkwardly) into the “USW HF Sonic Compression Mega-Blaster,” which is really more of a staff sort of thing.  I do like how the charge blaster unfolds into a staff, which will certainly prove useful with other figures in the line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, you ready for this?  This figure?  Max’s fault.  So Max’s fault.  Because I wasn’t doing Transformers, you see?  But then Max was all “check out this cool Soundwave figure.”  And that turned into “you should get a few other figures to try out this line.”  And now I’ve got a whole darn collection.  Great.  On the plus side, slight issues aside, this Soundwave is a very, very good figure.  I’m super happy to have gotten him, and he’s my favorite in the line, mostly by virtue of being Soundwave.  I dig it.  I dig it a lot.

Soundwave, like all of my other Siege figures, came from All Time Toys, and can be purchased here.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.