#2355: Clone Commander Bly

CLONE COMMANDER BLY

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“A veteran of many Clone Wars battles, Clone Comander Bly (clone designation CC-5052) served in the 327th Star Corps on such worlds as Quell, Maridun, and Felucia.”

When first introduced during the climax of Attack of the Clones, the Clone Troopers had no names, no personality to speak of, and no hint of individuality.  It wasn’t until Revenge of the Sith that we really got any hint of there being more to the clones than that, with the introduction of a handful of named individual clone commanders.  Amongst that handful of clones commanders was Bly, whom I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Clone Commander Bly is figure 104 in the Black Series line-up.  Amazingly, he’s only our third clone commanding officer in the main line, and only the second under the current numbering system (the two prior figures being Cody under the blue-style packaging, and Rex under the current set-up).  Bly was one of the clones who we saw in both sets of armor over the course of The Clone Wars and the movies, but the figure opts for his Phase II appearance from Revenge of the Sith.  It’s sensible, given that all of our commanders so far have been in their Phase II armor, making for a more cohesive appearance. The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation.  While the vast majority of the clones use the same pool of standard clone parts, Bly marks the first time we’ve seen a re-use of the upgraded parts used by Rex.  I’ve been waiting to see these parts re-appear since they were introduced with Rex, and I’m very happy to finally see them again.  They’re a noticeable improvement over the other body, especially in terms of the poseability on the arms, making Bly a far more playable figure than most of the other clones.  Bly uses the lower right arm, left arm, pelvis, legs, feet, and the back of the torso from Rex, a slightly modified version of the standard Phase II helmet with a visor, and a new front torso, upper right arm, pauldron, and belt.  It’s actually a fairly large number new parts, and more than I’d been expecting to see here, but they’re really nice parts, and match nicely with the pre-existing parts, as well as the source material.  It all makes for a really sharp looking figure.  The only downside is that he’s still got only one trigger finger, despite having the dual pistols, though at least in Bly’s case the dual pistols aren’t his primary weaponry, unlike Rex and Wolf.  Bly’s paintwork is pretty strong; his distinct markings are replicated, but they have been properly weathered and scarred, showing that Bly’s been on the battlefield for a while.  Bly is packed with his DC-15A blaster rifle and a pair of DC-17 hand blasters, which a fairly standard selection for a clone release, and honestly pretty good for one that uses so many new parts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Back in 2005, when the original Bly figure was released, I came across both him and Gree at retail, but was unable to buy them at the time.  While I was able to track down a Gree, I went many years without a single Bly in my collection, and have long viewed him as the one that got away.  I actually managed to get one a few months go…just in time for this guy to be announced.  Oh well, now I’ve got them both!  I really like this guy a lot, and he’s honestly the best clone Hasbro’s put out, and narrowly edges out Zorii Bliss as my favorite figure in this assortment.  Here’s hoping for more like Bly!

Bly was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Black Series, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2354: Zorii Bliss

ZORII BLISS

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“It is difficult for scoundrels to remain neutral in the war between First Order and Resistance, and Zorii Bliss and the Spice Runners of Kijimi must soon take a side.”

Though her screen time was a little more on the brief side, I was nevertheless quite a fan of Zorii Bliss’s appearance in The Rise of Skywalker.  She had a cool look, served a designated purpose in the plot, gave us a little more development for Poe, and was just a rather intriguing character.  Prior to the film, I had purchased her Vintage Collection figure on something of an impulse, but after opening I wasn’t wowed.  So, after the movie, I was definitely jonesing for a slightly better version of the character. Black Series to the rescue!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Zorii Bliss is figure 103 in the Star Wars: The Black Series line-up, making her numerically the first of the most recent assortment of figures (and placing her directly after the last assortment’s Wedge Antilles figure).  She’s one of three Rise figures in the latest assortment, and the only actually named character of those three.  The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and she has 31 points of articulation.  The smaller Zorii’s articulation was one of my biggest issues with the figure.  There was a lot of it, but not much of it was very practical.  This figure’s articulation works out far better, and is on par with the best of the more recent Black Series offerings in terms of poseability.  In particular, there’s a ton of range on the neck and the arms, which makes her a lot of fun to get into various action poses.  The joints are well-toleranced, so she can hold stances well.  She’s also a good deal more stable on her feet than the smaller figure.  While the figure still does fall over in more extreme poses, I had a lot less trouble keeping her up for the photos for this review.  The sculpt was really the one thing the smaller Zorii had going for her, but this figure nevertheless builds on that further, taking advantage of the larger canvas to add even more detail, and to also sharpen up the details.  The helmet in particular really turns out much nicer on this version, with a more film-accurate design, cleaner lines, and the one feature missing from the smaller figure: a removable visor!  In the film, Zorii never removes her helmet outright, but she does slide the visor back a few times, giving us a glimpse of her eyes and some of the helmet’s internal structure.  The visor on this figure can be popped out, revealing a fully detailed pair of eyes, as well as some more of the helmet.  It’s a really cool feature, and I was happy it didn’t get overlooked here.  Paintwork is again an area where the smaller figure did okay, but again this one does better.  The base detailing is all clean, and the metal sections get some decent weathering to match the real world items.  The eyes use the face printing tech, so they look nice and realistic as well.  Zorii is only packed with her two blaster pistols, which is slightly light, bt the removable visor does at least off set that a bit.  It probably would have made more sense to include Babu here, but then they wouldn’t have the hook for that 3PO figure, so it’s really a catch-22.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was hopeful for this figure when it was shown off, because it looked a bit better than the smaller one, but I was a little apprehensive.  That lessened a bit when Hasbro confirmed the removable visor, and after getting the figure in hand she’s just genuinely a really nice figure.  She’s got one really good figure giving her a run for her money on best figure of her assortment, but it’s neck and neck, let me tell you.  Definitely the best Sequel Trilogy figure in the line, though.

I picked up Zorii from my friends All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#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.

#2347: In Space Psycho Blue Ranger

IN SPACE PSYCHO BLUE RANGER

POWER RANGERS: THE LIGHTNING COLLECTION (HASBRO)

Hasbro’s collector’s toy lines seem to be really getting into the exclusives game across the board.  Though it’s relatively new, having only been running for a little under a year, The Lightning Collection has had its own handful, including not one, but two different exclusives for Gamestop (with a third on the way later this year).  Goldar was their first, and he got a lot of promotion, but by contrast, their second exclusive, Psycho Blue, pretty much just showed up one day.  And here he is now!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Psycho Blue is, as noted above, a Gamestop exclusive piece of Power Rangers: The Lightning Collection.  He started hitting in small quantities back in November of last year, but appears to have really hit in full force just after the new year.  He’s either the first or the second of the Psycho Rangers from Hasbro, depending on how distribution in your area worked out.  Red was shown off first, and he’s the one I got first, so I’m counting Blue as number two. The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  It’s not really surprising, but Blue is a total re-use of Red’s sculpt.  The costumes in the show were the same, so it’s a fairly sensible re-use, and one that Bandai did too when they released them.  It was a strong sculpt the first time I looked at it, and it’s still a strong sculpt here.  I do wish the range of motion was better on those shoulders, but that’s still my only complaint.  I’ll be content to buy this at least twice more for Black and Silver.  The figure is differentiated by his paint, which, unsurprisingly, swaps out the the red accents of the last one for blue.  I find myself preferring the blue overall, and its application seems a little cleaner on my figure.  Psycho Blue gets the same two sets of hands as Red, plus his Psycho Axe (the one new piece included here), and the White Ranger‘s effect piece, but in yellow this time.  I appreciate that they actually did give him one additional piece compared to Red, even if it’s just a re-used one.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t find Blue in his initial shipments last year.  My first find was after the new year, and at the time Gamestop was trying to get $29.99 for him, which I was definitely not paying.  Fortunately, I came across him at another location a few weeks later, and he was now marked at a far more reasonable $18.99, at which point I quite happily picked him up.  There’s not much new here, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a great toy.  Honestly, I like him even more than Red, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the team.

#2346: Zombie Viper

ZOMBIE VIPER

G.I. JOE: 30TH ANNIVERSARY (HASBRO)

“ZOMBIE-VIPERS are COBRA infantry troopers who have been given a mysterious chemical substance, Compound Z, that has turned them into drones. Wiped of all thought, they follow orders mindlessly and cannot be reasoned with or sidetracked. They have retained skill at combat; in fact, their desire to fight has been increased, making them more dangerous than before. In other words, they are deadly zombie warriors.”

After a rather noticeable hiatus from retail shelves, G.I. Joe is making its return later this year, with an all-new line of 6-inch figures.  I myself am quite excited for this new line, so in the mean time, I’m going to look at some of the older items already in my collection.  Today, I’m turning my sights on the 30th Anniversary of the 3 3/4 inch line, which in addition to updating some of the older figures to the modern day, also served as the distribution point for a handful of left over ideas from Hasbro’s rather inventive Pursuit of Cobra line.  PoC attempted to introduce some new ideas into the franchise, including a few new styles of Cobra trooper.  And since everyone was going crazy about zombies in the early 2010s, we even got one of those!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Zombie-Viper was part of the fourth assortment of the G.I. Joe: 30th Anniversary line, which would prove to be the final assortment of the 30th line.  Unfortunately, due to Paramount not wanting competing product during a movie year, the 30th line was shoved into 2011, which wasn’t its actual anniversary year, and the fourth assortment in particular was practically non-existent at retail.  Fortunately, the Zombie-Viper got a more or less unchanged release for the 50th Anniversary line in 2016, making him much easier to find.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 26 points of articulation.  The Zombie-Viper’s non-zombie parts are re-used from the Pursuit of Cobra Shock Trooper.  The same figure served as a parts source for both the standard PoC Cobra Trooper and the Viper,  so there’s a nice connective tissue to it, which sells the backstory that these are infected Cobra forces.  The new parts do quite a nice job of selling the whole zombie thing.  The level of detailing is really impressive at this scale and at on a mass retail item, and is honestly enough to give other zombie lines of the time a run for their money.  The forearms are designed like those of the BATs, allowing for them to pop out at the joint and be swapped out for other attachments, in this case a set of tendrils, adding to that more sci-if side of things.  They are also compatible with the BAT attachments, allowing for some mix and match.  The Zombie-Viper’s paint work is mostly on the drab side, which is sensible for a zombie, but with a little bit of bright blue thrown in there, again to play up that sci-fi side of things. There’s some nice accent work wit ph a wash, which helps highlight the intricacies of the sculpt.  The Zombie-Viper is packed with the previously mentioned tendrils, as well as a containment helmet and tube, and a display stand with the figure’s name and the Cobra insignia on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was quite looking forward to this figure when it was first shown off, but unfortunately Wave 4 never showed up at retail around me, and by the time I realized it hadn’t, the full sets had long since sold out online.  I wound up tracking down my one must have figure (Lifeline) on his own, but never did get the Zombie-Viper.  Fortunately, via the 50th Anniversary reissue and Max not wanting to keep both of them from the two-pack, I was finally able to get one.  I’m glad, because he’s a really cool figure.

#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.