#2560: Ratchet

RATCHET

TRANSFORMERS: PRIME (HASBRO)

Do you ever find yourself having made a mistake, which then becomes compounded upon and compounded upon and compounded upon, and by the time you realize you’ve made it, it’s very hard to fix it?  I mean that in a sort of comedic sense, I suppose, here on the site where I like to keep things light.  But, I also do feel like maybe there’s some deeper meaning to that.  You see, on October 18, 2020, I made a mistake.  I published my review of the Power of the Force II Concept Speeder Bike, and I accidentally gave it the number “2561,” rather than its proper “2560.”  I skipped ahead one day, and I didn’t even notice.  For two years, I just didn’t see it, and it was never corrected.  For two years, I’ve been technically one day ahead.  One day out of synch.  But, on the precipice of wrapping up my ninth year here on the site, I found the error.  I found the day I missed.  Years ago, I would have made some joke, maybe written a review in the style of two years prior, as if the day hadn’t been missed.  I very much considered that.  The trouble is, it’s impossible for me to go back to who I was in October of 2020.  The worst day of my life stands between me and that missing day.  But, I want to go back, as best as I can, in some form.  So, if you’ll indulge me, this is not going to be a standard review by any stretch.  I have chosen a figure of notable significance, and what follows isn’t a review of that figure, but rather a life surrounding that figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ratchet was released in the second deluxe wave of Hasbro’s Transformers Prime: Robots in Disguise.  He came out in 2012.  This figure was intended to be added to my collection in June of 2020.  I had gotten into Prime the prior fall and I liked Jeffery Combs’ take on Ratchet, so I was looking for this figure.  He came into All Time, and I thought I was getting him for me.  I wasn’t, though, as it turned out.  But I didn’t know that for a little while.  In June of 2020, the world was three months into a global pandemic that we’re honestly still fighting.  But things were getting better for a bit, and we thought maybe the worst was past.  We were wrong, of course, but that’s our lot.  I lost my full time job to the pandemic.  I went unemployed for two rather frightening months as we all stayed inside, isolated.  At the end of May, we started to come back out.  I got another job.  A job I really wanted.  I was excited.  I was at ease.  I was happy.  I thought it had all worked out.  I was wrong again.  June was the month that Jess got sick.  After a string of frustrating doctor’s visits, she finally made some headway, and she wound up going into surgery, with an extended weekend recovery.  At the end of the weekend, we were told we could go home.  Everything was okay.  We had nothing to worry about.  Wrong again.  I bought this figure during the period of not needing to worry.  In short order, the worry returned, and Jess had cancer.  She had to go back into surgery, this time without me there to help her.  She was afraid, and she needed some small comfort.  So, I handed her the best medical expert I had on hand, Ratchet.  And he wasn’t mine, he was hers now.  He went with her to every treatment, every hospital stay, and every emergency room run.  He didn’t leave her side.  If a pandemic wouldn’t let me be there with her, he would be.  And he did that well.  He gave Jess something to rally behind.  She would fiddle with him, she would pose him, she would even show him off to her nurses and other medical staff.  She absolutely loved him.  I told her when I gave him to her that he would help her.  And for once, I wasn’t wrong.  Maybe the help didn’t take the form I expected, but it was definitely there.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I took the photos attached to this not-really-review back when I still thought the figure was mine.  I intended to review him, but when he went to Jess, I didn’t want to deprive her.  After she was gone, I genuinely didn’t think I could bring myself to write about him without her.  When I discovered the missing number, I initially wanted to do a fill-in review.  Place myself in my shoes in October 2020.  And I did.  In October of 2020, Jess had finished her first round of chemo.  We thought the worst was behind us again.  We celebrated.  I thought I might just get to review this Ratchet, but maybe Jess might help me.  He was hers after all.  By November, we knew were wrong again.  But, for a few short weeks, the clouds parted, and we were happy.  When I looked through what I still had unreviewed from that year, I saw this figure sitting there.  I remembered how happy we were in that month.  And I recognized how wonderful it was, fleeting though it may have been.  I found that wonderful day I’d missed.  And I’m so happy I did.  In the chaos that is life, it’s easy to get stuck on the pain, the suffering, and the general awfulness.  But then you miss the good.  Even in my worst days, there was such brightness, even if just for a moment.

If you made it through all of this, thank you for indulging me on this little trip.

#3187: Ultra Magnus – Shattered Glass

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS: SHATTERED GLASS COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“Welcome to an alternate universe where the bad guys are good, and the good guys are bad…Shattered Glass is a mirror universe where Optimus Prime and the Autobots are the evil conquerors and ruling class of Cybertron, opposed by the noble Megatron and his heroic Decepticon rebels.

Ultra Magnus has become bored with warfare.  Having ended more sparks than he can count, he sets his sights on something greater: the destruction of the universe.”

First appearing in 2008 as the inspiration for a Botcon-exclusive boxed set, “Shattered Glass” is the Transformers version of a pretty classic sci-fi trope: the alternate universe where all the good guys are evil and all the bad guys are good…you know, kinda like it says in the italicized text above.  I guess Hasbro’s kind of okay at explaining that one too.  While all the tie-in toys were initially just handled by Fun Publications, the group in charge of both the Transformers and G.I. Joe Collector’s Clubs and their respective exclusives, and therefore not part of any of Hasbro’s proper Transformers lines, Hasbro officially brought “Shattered Glass” into their line with a Generations Select two-pack featuring the evil counterparts to Optimus Prime and Ratchet, in 2020.  In 2021, they launched a full sub-line, the Shattered Glass Collection, which was exclusive to Hasbro Pulse.  Personally, I’m not deep enough into Transformers to really need the Shattered Glass stuff, but…well, as you can see, there’s kind of an Ultra Magnus.  And, uhh, I kinda tend to just buy everything Ultra Magnus.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus is figure #6 in the Shattered Glass Collection.  He’s the first of the second batch of figures for the line, and started arriving to those who pre-ordered him at the beginning of September, which was about a month ahead of his original projected release date.  Hey, it’s not as drastic as *some* of Hasbro’s recent date changes, right?  Right.  In his fully built up robot mode, the figure stands 7 1/4 inches tall and he has 20 workable points of articulation.  Structurally, he’s mostly the same as the Kingdom Magnus.  It’s a good, classic Magnus mold, and genuinely my favorite Magnus, so I’m certainly not hurt by seeing it turn up again.  There are a few quirks to this particular use of the mold, but they’re largely to do with the paint, so I’ll get to them in a moment.  Before that, I’ll discuss the one new part of this mold, which is the head.  The original BotCon Shattered Glass Magnus had a unique head sculpt, which gave Magnus a skeletal visage and a more sinister shaping to his helmet.  It’s certainly a different design for the character, and it’s kind of the one signature part of SG Magnus, so this figure gets a new head to match that look.  Personally, I feel it clashes just a bit stylistically with the rest of the body, but it’s not a bad piece in its own right.  The paint work marks the biggest change-up for this figure, as has been the case for all of the Shattered Glass releases.  While a lot of the palette shifts for the Autobots are more centered on giving them more classically evil colors to mess with, in Magnus’s case, he actually gets a throwback to his history, with the colors of Powered Convoy, the original toy Magnus used the molds from (which were almost Magnus’s colors as well, had Hasbro not decided to shift his colors before Transformers: The Movie‘s release).  It’s honestly a sensible choice for an alternate universe Magnus, since it involves reversing his color scheme, making it feel all evil and stuff.  Unfortunately, this color scheme winds up requiring some paint where there wasn’t on the first use of this mold, which messes with the tolerances on some of the moving parts just a bit.  On my figure, the prime offenders are the inner wrist guards and the shoulder rockets, neither of which really wants to sit just right.  Beyond that, though, they look pretty solid.  It’s worth noting that in the Transformers canon, the Powered Convoy colors have been made into a separate character, Delta Magnus, and in order to facilitate this guy pulling double duty, he also includes the standard Kingdom Magnus head colored to match the core body.  He’s also got his blaster rifle (now in red), as well as the sword, axe, and Matrix of Leadership from the Legacy Laser Prime.

As a re-use of the Kingdom mold, SG Magus has an inner bot under all of the outer armor.  His mold is totally unchanged, which is honestly just fine by me.  He does get a drastically different color scheme, however.  While the outer robot could pull double duty as Delta Magnus, the inner robot uses the original Powered Convoy inner bot colors, thus allowing him to serve as a third character, Magna Convoy.  I’m gonna be honest, I don’t know anything about Magna Convoy, and reading his wiki entry didn’t really help much on that front, but I do like the look of the color scheme he’s got.  Not enough to ever display this figure sans armor, but such is the curse of any inner Magnus bot.  The inner bot turns into the same truck cab as the original Kingdom release did, just with the updated colors, and just like that one, you can reconfigure the armor pieces into a trailer for the cab.  It’s still a little bit slapdash, but I still don’t really mind that.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It’s Max’s fault.  No, really, it’s totally Max’s fault.  He completely enabled me on this one.  I didn’t even know it was coming, he told me about its existence, and he even let me jump in on his Pulse Premium membership to help me get one.  How dare he?  Downright unreasonable.  In all seriousness, I’ve been wanting a Delta Magnus re-deco since Siege, and that only increased with the Kingdom mold in play.  I wasn’t expecting the Shattered Glass angle, but I can’t say I’m upset about it, since it just means extra stuff.  He’s gonna stay in the Delta Magnus mode for my display, but I’m always down for more options.

Oh, and there’s also a comic.  Right.  Genuinely forgot.  Was gonna do a bit and then I actually forgot.  He comes with the first issue of IDW’s Transformers: Shattered Glass II, which gets a special exclusive cover for this release.  It sure is a comic.  There are words.  Illustrations.  Colors.  Events occur.  Not sure I’d say it has a plot, but it’s sure got a lot of Magnus.  I can’t say it’s good or bad.  It just…is.

#3179: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS: R.E.D. (HASBRO)

Okay, the Transformers reviews have certainly slowed down around here, I suppose.  I was trying for a once-a-month thing, but I couldn’t even do that.  Admittedly, I wasn’t really trying.  Well, hey, would you guys like a Transformers review?  Okay, but slight caveat: this one does not transform.  I know.  First Transformers review in three months.  Doesn’t even transform.  There’s some sort of cruel irony there.  Well, if it makes it any better, it’s at least an Ultra Magnus.  So, you know, it’s at least mostly on brand.  Mostly.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus is one of the two figures (the other being the Prime version of Knockout) that make up the fifth assortment of Transformers: R.E.D., which remains exclusive to Walmart.  The entire selling point of this line is that the transformations are sacrificed in the name of animation accuracy, a selling point that has been completely lost with this figure, because instead of being based on any animated appearance of Magnus, this figure is instead based on his G1 inner robot.  Why?  Re-use, that’s why.  I’ll get to that.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Magnus’s entire existence is reliant on one thing: he’s a 100% parts re-use.  Since he’s just the inner robot, rather than a proper armored Magnus, he’s just a complete repaint of the Series 1 Optimus Prime mold.  This is my first time messing with the mold.  It’s alright.  The movement is a little better than the Soundwave mold for the most part, and I found the angles to be a little sharper on this one.  It matches the Prime animation model, which is good for Prime.  For Magnus, it’s kind of neither here nor there whether it’s accurate to anything.  It’s generally a pretty fun sculpt removed from the source, and it plays pretty well, so I can’t really complain.  The mold still features Prime’s opening chest compartment, which on the first release allowed for storage of the included Matrix of Leadership.  The Matrix isn’t included here, so it’s kind of vestigial, but it’s still a cool feature.  The main change-up for this release is the paint scheme.  As with the G1 figure, he’s a largely white version of Prime, much like the inner bots for the Siege and Kingdom releases.  Not *actually* being an inner bot means he can follow the original color scheme a little bit more, specifically with the upper being silver, rather than just more white.  The application is clean, and he looks the part, so it all works out.  Magnus is packed with three sets of hands (fists, open gesture, and a grip/pointing combo), a rifle, and an alternate Energon axe hand (now in blue).  All of these are the same as those included with the standard Optimus, though, as noted above, this guy loses the Matrix.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this line’s Soundwave because he pretty much fell into my lap.  He was fine, but not really enough to make me jump into the line any further.  The announcement of a Magnus was exciting, but that was undercut by the reveal that he was just a Prime repaint.  Generally, I don’t tend to go for just inner-bot Magnuses, so I wasn’t really planning to get this one.  Ultimately, I got him because I needed to stop at Walmart for something else, he was there, and he was on sale.  He’s not a bad figure, but he’s also just sort of…lost?  Like, he’s not even true to the one thing the line had going for it, so, exactly what is his purpose?  I’d like to see a proper armored version later down the line, but honestly I feel like this figure’s existence is going to make getting another one more difficult.  I get Hasbro wanting to get extra mold re-uses, but for this specific line, I don’t feel like this is one that really works.  So, I’m glad to have another Magnus, as per usual, but I do wish he were better.

#3112: N.E.S.T. Bumblebee

N.E.S.T. BUMBLEBEE

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

“Re-imagined as a N.E.S.T. Jeep, Bumblebee and the Autobots team up with N.E.S.T. to protect the Allspark from the Decepticons.”

So, I guess I’ll just review a Transformers figure, like, once a month now, right?  That seems to be the way I’m headed.  Well, okay, that seems to be a thing I’ve done twice now.  I suppose I shouldn’t cling to it too early; might be a bit hasty for such things.  Well, anyway, I’m doing a Transformers review today.  It seems the thing to do, largely because I’ve got a new Transformer, and not a ton of other new things in need of review, I suppose.  But, it’s okay, because it’s at least a pretty cool one.  Despite it being neither a Soundwave nor an Ultra Magnus, it *is* a Jeep, so it still checks off at least one of the boxes for me in terms of being a Transformer that I need.  So, without further ado, here’s N.E.S.T. Bumblebee!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

N.E.S.T. Bumblebee is a Fan Channel-exclusive Deluxe Class Transformers: Studio Series release.  He’s figure 77 in the line-up, which places him between Voyager Class Thrust and Deluxe Class Sideswipe, though he was released rather far removed from both of them.  Though marketed as a Bumblebee movie release, this figure isn’t actually based on anything in the movie, and is instead more closely tied in with the Universal Studios ride, which features N.E.S.T. as a prominent part.  Of course, he’s still not specifically based on anything directly from the ride, but we’re getting closer at least.   In his robot mode, Bee stands a little under 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation.  N.E.S.T. Bee is re-using the sculpt from Offroad Bee wholesale.  I like that sculpt a lot, so, you know, I’m okay with it.  The first use of the mold did have a slight issue with loose hips; for this release, they’re a little bit tighter, but not by much.  It’s a bit of a downer, but still not enough to ruin the figure for me.  He maintains his solid construction in robot mode, which is a definite plus.  The change-up for this release is the color scheme, which trades out the yellow of the original release for more of a gun metal grey.  It’s not classically Bumblebee, but it’s a nice color for the mold, and he also trades out the clear and blue parts for a drab green, further removing him from the prior release.  Like the previous version, this one is packed with his blaster attachment for his arm.  He also gets the small Sam Witwicky figurine from the Revenge of the Fallen Bee release.  It’s not really to scale, and doesn’t really interact with the figure at all, but, well, it’s there, so, there it is.

As with the last release, this Bee’s alt-mode is a fully-licensed Jeep.  The transformation scheme is still pretty decent, without all that fiddly-ness of some of the other Studio releases.  The end result still holds together pretty well, and apart from those somewhat obvious arms, it’s a very convincing Jeep recreation.  In this mode, another change-up to the color scheme, namely the addition of a N.E.S.T. insignia to the hood of the car, which is a fun little touch.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really love the last Jeep Bumblebee.  It’s quite possibly my favorite Studio Series release.  I just really love that mold, and I like picking up molds I love.  This one doesn’t really have any reason to exist, but, honestly, I don’t care.  It was a fun toy the first time around, and it’s still fun now, just in a different set of colors.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website.

#3089: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS: FALL OF CYBERTRON (HASBRO)

“Ultra Magnus is legendary among Autobots and Decepticons alike. The mere sight of his armored form charging into battle is more than enough to inspire his troops to victory, and his strength as a warrior is more than enough to break any Decepticon army.”

You know what I haven’t really reviewed a lot of lately?  Transformers.  As a whole, I’ve kinda slowed down on collecting them, so there’s a lot less of an influx of them waiting to get reviewed all the time, but I’ve still got a host of older ones I can fall back on.  I good chunk of those older figures are Ultra Magnus.  I know, you’re all very shocked by this crazy development that absolutely no one could have seen coming.  I’ve covered a good chunk of Ultra Magni here on the site, which has also allowed me to explore the various different eras of the toyline.  For today’s purposes, let’s discuss video games.  In 2010, a prequel game of sorts to the main Transformers storyline, titled War For Cybertron, was released, alongside a number of other tie-ins, including a handful of figures within Hasbro’s Transformers: Generations line.  In 2012, the game received a sequel in the form of Fall of Cybertron, which likewise got its own tie-ins, this time with the Generations line actually getting a proper re-titling, and the whole line focusing on adapting designs from the game.  Our boy Ultra Magnus found his way into this particular toyline, like a champ, and I’m taking a look at that particular figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus was released in the third Deluxe Class assortment of the Fall of Cybertron line, which hit in 2013.  In his robot mode, the figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall, and he has 19 workable points of articulation.  As a Deluxe Class release, this Ultra Magnus is notably quite small for a Magnus, especially in reference to the rest of the line which spawned him.  He’s just a little guy.  While the line was ostensibly based on the game designs, Magnus is actually not based on a game design at all.  Or, really anything really.  The question of scaling, as well as the nature of this design both stem from the fact that he’s largely a repaint of the FoC Optimus.  As such, he doesn’t get Magnus’s fully armored look, or the corresponding scale-up that would go along with it.  There does exist a third party figure which does a slightly closer job of replicating the game’s Magnus design (though even that’s based on concept art more than the actual game).  For the purposes of this release, Hasbro’s aim is clearly to make the most of what they have, so he gets an all-new, more Magnus-worthy head.  It’s a pretty nice sculpt, keeping the classic Magnus elements, but also melding things with the aesthetic of the game designs.  Additionally, the instructions also have you leave the smokestacks up in robot mode, simulating Magnus’s usual shoulder pylons.  Gotta have those shoulders for a true Magnus.  He also gets the new deco, of course.  It’s quite heavy on blue, which really helps to differentiate him from Optimus, and I really do dig the decision to go with that really stark white.  All of it results in a figure that may be small, but still looks very much like a Magnus.  Magnus was packed with the same blaster included with Optimus, as well as a big honkin’ sword.  Sword’s aren’t classically a Magnus thing, but it’s still a nifty piece.  It’s made up of three distinct parts, with the part that makes up the tip actually being the sword used by Optimus briefly within the game proper.

Ultra Magnus’s alt-mode is the same one that Prime had.  It’s a Cybertronian “truck,” which is decidedly less boxy than most Prime alt-modes, and by extension less boxy than most Magnus alt-modes as well.  It’s a different sort of design, but not a terrible one, as far as made-up sci-fi truck modes go.  The transformation sequence takes a little bit of doing, but it’s not too crazy either.  Given that it’s not really a Magnus design, it’s not the sort of thing I see myself getting much use out of personally, but it’s still nifty.  In vehicle mode, the blaster and sword can both be mounted to the figure, so as to not lose them or anything.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I discovered this figure fairly early into my dive into the depths of older Magnus figures back in 2019, and was definitely interested.  As with most older Transformers, though, I don’t really have an undying need to actively search for them.  They just sort of come to me.  This one in a more literal sense than most.  He came into All Time as part of a trade, but it was one that Max had handled, so I knew nothing about him.  So, when they came in, Max just walked up to my desk and sat this guy in front of me, because, you know, Magnus and all.  It was a fairly pleasant little surprise.  As I said above, he’s small for a Magnus, and not really based on anything specific.  That said, I do really like him.  He feels kind of unique, and he’s honestly just a very fun little figure.

#3036: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE (& RAVAGE)

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

Having exhausted all of the Earthmode characters from Bumblebee, in 2020 Hasbro started dipping their toes into the waters of the large cast of characters seen in the film’s opening battle on Cybertron.  Initially, they stuck purely to characters like Bumblebee or the Seekers, who had proper alt-modes displayed in the sequence (Cliffjumper also got in on this, by virtue of sharing his alt-mode with Bee), but this year, they’re going a step further and focusing in on the characters without any displayed alt-modes.  You know what that means?  It means your boy Ethan gets to review another Soundwave is what it means.  And your boy Ethan is all kinds of down for that.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave is part of the Wave 15 Voyager-Class assortment of Hasbro’s Transformers: Studio Series, alongside a repack of last year’s Autobot Hot Rod.  He’s numbered 83 in the line-up, making him the last of the Bumblebee-themed figures from this first batch for the year.  It’s our second time getting Soundwave in his G1-inspired Bumblebee look, and the first time we’ve gotten a toy of it from Hasbro proper.  In his robot mode, the figure stands just shy of 7 inches tall and he has 27 workable points of articulation.  There are a few spots of restricted movement on this guy, especially when compared to other more recent Soundwaves, but the overall set-up of movement serves him well, and is well integrated into the overall look and design.  Soundwave’s sculpt is a pretty solid one, and does a respectable job of capturing his design from the movie.  Obviously, it’s not quite on the same level as the ThreeZero version I looked at last year, but then I don’t really expect it to be, now do I?  The level of detailing is pretty sharp, and he largely avoids any major gaps or hollow spots in his robot mode.  He’s also got an integrated cassette door-esque spot for storing his little buddies, complete with a spring loaded opening feature.  His arms aren’t quite free enough to get his hand up by the button, but it’s otherwise a cool feature.  Soundwave’s paint work is generally pretty good, with clean application, and a lot of decent coverage for the important details.  There’s one slight oddity to it, though; while his construction appears to have light-piping worked in for his optics, the visor is painted an opaque red, which doesn’t feel like it was *quite* what they were going for when they designed him.  Soundwave is packed with his usual shoulder mounted cannon, as well as the blaster rifle we saw him with in the film.

As addressed above, Soundwave has no alt-mode in Bumblebee, since he only participates in the battle as a robot.  So, for him to be a proper Transformer and all, Hasbro had to supply him with an alt-mode.  This one has been the source of much gnashing of teeth amongst the fanbase for being a pointless and nothing alt-mode, but Soundwave does actually draw his alt-mode from another piece of media, namely IDW’s Transformers Vs. G.I. Joe from 2014.  As any direct tie-ins to that series are rather unlikely, it’s not a bad re-use of alt-mode.  It also looks a bit like a Snowspeeder, and I like that.  Transforming him isn’t too bad; there’s some slight fiddliness, but not as bad as some Studio Series releases.  There’s one spot of a false piece showing up in the final assembly, but otherwise things stay pretty kosher.  On my figure, one of the ports on what would be his right forearm is malformed, meaning you can’t use it for one of his weapons the way the instructions show.  That said, there’s other, better spots for storing them, and I do rather enjoy this alt-mode.  Not enough to leave him that way long-term, but still.

Shipping alongside these latest Studio Series sets is a Core Class assortment, which is new for Studio Series specifically, though was introduced as a main scale-class last year with Kingdom.  Kingdom used it for smaller-scale versions of heavy hitters, but Studio is mixing that concept in with some figures that should actually be smaller.  In the first assortment, we get a Bumblebee-inspired Ravage, specifically designed to work with Soundwave.  I’m bad about reviewing Soundwave’s cassette buddies on their own, so I figured I might as well bundle him in here!  In robot mode, Ravage is 3 1/2 inches long and has 16 workable points of articulation.  In many ways, he does feel like a slightly simplified and scaled down version of the ThreeZero one, which I suppose is fair.  They are based on the same design and all, so it makes sense.  He’s a little blockier than he should be, but as far as small-scale Ravages go, he’s really not bad.  He’s even got a working jaw, which is fun.  Ravage is packed with his two side cannons, the missiles for the top, and an extra missile based on G1 Soundwave’s and designed to fit in the cannon.  It’s an odd choice, since Soundwave doesn’t get the handheld one that should actually have the missile…but I guess it’s the thought that counts.  Like the larger one, this Ravage turns into a box, meant for storing in Soundwave’s chest compartment.  You have to make sure he’s transformed *just* right to fit in there, which is a little frustrating at first, but once you figure it out, it works alright.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m cutting back on Transformers.  I swear.  I really mean it.  But there was a Soundwave, you guys!  I had to have Soundwave, obviously.  And Ravage.  You know, because otherwise Soundwave is gonna get all lonely.  So, just the pair of them, right?  Right.  I’m sticking with that, I swear.  I really like this design for Soundwave, and I really liked getting it from ThreeZero, but I’ll admit, it’s nice to have an actual proper toy of it that I can just mess with, without fear of breaking a very expensive collector’s piece.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website.

#2967: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS: UNIVERSE (HASBRO)


Despite a prominent spot in 2001’s Robots in Disguise, Ultra Magnus was effectively absent from the Unicron Trilogy, at least as far as direct presence was concerned.  The name was used again for Energon, on a rather rare redeco of Armada Overload.  As far as any actual Armada coverage, the closest he would get would come two years after the Armada line, as part of the more all encompassing Universe line.  Since I’m in an Armada sort of mood, but I also gotta have some Magnus love, let’s take a look at that figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus was released in the Transformers: Universe line, as half of one of Hasbro’s “Battle in a Box” sets, an run of market six (close out and department stores like Kohl’s) exclusive sets they tried with their in-house brands in ‘04.  His pack-mate was Treadshot, who isn’t an Ultra Magnus, so he’s not getting a review here.  In his robot mode, Magnus stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 15 workable points of articulation.  Structurally, this Magnus goes back to the tried and true method of making a Magnus by taking an Optimus and painting him white.  This one specifically is based on the Armada Prime mold.  It’s not a bad mold, apart from the forearm assembly being backwards, and has a decent update on the classic Optimus aesthetic.  The new color scheme works really well with it, and actually does look pretty suitably like a new character.  He’s got a set of forearm-mounted guns, which serve as his smokestacks in his alt-mode.  They were removable here for…reasons?  I don’t really know why.  Magnus is also packed with his own Mini-Con companion, Overrun, who was shared with the previous Optimus release.  He’s slightly redecoed here.  He’s got a kind of goofy robot mode, but he can also serve as a gun for Magnus.

Magnus’s alt-mode is a truck.  That’s it.  Okay, I mean, it’s like a sci-fi truck, I guess.  It’s not a bad alt-mode, especially for a Magnus, and the transformation sequence isn’t too complex or anything.  Those smokestacks fall off a lot, but it’s otherwise alright.  Overrun gets his own alt-mode, in addition to the gun mode, where he turns into a jet.  Right out of the box, his wings are reversed, but this can be easily corrected by popping them out and then back into the right spots.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t know of this set’s existence as a kid, or even until later into my adulthood, so I never did get around to looking for it.  Instead it rather came to me, as it was traded into All Time last summer.  I just wanted the Magnus, so Max wound up taking the Treadshot I didn’t want, and I had a sweet new Magnus.  He’s nothing phenomenal or anything, but he’s a Magnus that fits with my Armada collection, and that works for me.

#2960: Starscream

STARSCREAM

TRANSFORMERS: ARMADA (HASBRO)

“Starscream uses his speed and maneuverability as a jet to launch aerial attacks on the Autobots. No one can compete with him when it comes to speed and skill in the air. He slices through the sky, chasing the enemy and even endangering any Decpticon that gets in his way. As the second in command, he pretends to be loyal to Megatron, but is always looking for an opportunity to weaken his leader’s rule and take control of the Decepticons.”

Present in the franchise since its beginning, Starscream is a rather inescapable piece of the Transformers lexicon.  Other characters may come and go, but after Optimus and Megatron, the character next most likely to find himself in a given version of the story is Starscream, always Megatron’s lackey, always ready to betray him and take power for himself.  Transformers: Armada actually flipped the script on Starscream a little bit, though.  Rather than being purely motivated by his own self-interests, the Armada Starscream’s inevitable betrayal of Megatron saw him not taking power directly from Megatron, but rather switching to the side of the Autobots.  While still selfishly motivated on the surface, he would eventually find his own more valiant side, and even make a rather heroic sacrifice, something that no other version of Starscream would ever even consider in the slightest.  It was cool change-up, and a fun take on the character.  Helping even more on the fun/cool scale?  A pretty awesome toy, which I’ll be looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Starscream made up one half of the first Max-Con Class (the line’s equivalent to the modern Voyager Class) assortment of Hasbro’s Transformers: Armada line, released alongside the show’s debut in 2002.  In his robot mode, Starscream stands about 7 inches tall and he has 10 workable points of articulation.  As with most of the other figures in the line, Starscream’s articulation is rather restricted by the nature of his design.  There’s no neck movement, and the shoulders don’t move either.  He’s got some swivels near the shoulders, and some okay leg movement, but there’s not a ton of posing to be had here.  He’s good for one thing, and that’s standing.  The sculpt is a pretty impressive piece.  It matches up well with how he looks in the animation, and it’s got a solid bit of heft to it.  The boxy shapes definitely work well, and his robot mode is well-formed.  There’s a bit of kibble, especially when it comes to the back of the torso, but he generally makes it work.  He’s armed with a folding sword, which is actually his left wing removed and unfolded.  It’s not the most convincing thing, but it works in its own goofy sense.  Also included is his Mini-Con partner, Swindle.  Swindle’s robot mode isn’t quite as strong as Jolt or Blackout’s were.  It’s okay, but not great.  The R&D definitely went to Starscream on this one.  Swindle allows Starscream to unlock the two cannons on Starscream’s shoulders, which each shoot a missile.  The missiles are, sadly, missing from mine.  The cannons also have a tendency to unlatch themselves from time to time, and, if you’re not careful, the latches can wear out, causing them to be permanently be forward.  Fortunately, that’s not the case with mine.

Starscream’s alt-mode is a sci-fi jet.  The transformation is a little more involved than the other two, but he’s a more advanced class, so it makes sense.  It’s still not particularly difficult, and there are also a few spring-loaded components to the transformation.  The end result is a vehicle that’s a little awkward in some spots, but one that also lacks the major under the jet kibble left over from the robot mode, which is something that shows up a lot with the jets.  In his jet mode, there are some sound effects built in; they no longer work on mine, but there are a few jet related sounds.  They’re honestly more annoying than anything, so I can’t say I miss them.  Swindle has his own alt-mode as well; he turns into a racing car, and is honestly more convincing as a car than as a robot.  Now, why a race car robot is packed in with the big jet is anyone’s guess, but I try not to dwell too much.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Of the three Armada figures that my cousin owned for a very brief time and ultimately gave to me, Starscream was definitely his favorite.  When they were in his possession, I didn’t get to play with Starscream the way I did the other two.  So, when he was finally mine, that was a pretty big deal.  Unfortunately, he also wound up being the only one readily available to me to grab when I decided to get rid of a lot of my stuff at around 15 or so.  I wound up selling him off (to All Time Toys, actually, along with a bunch of junk that they honestly gave me more than they should have for), and it’s something I’ve regretted since.  I’ve been keeping my eye out for a replacement ever since.  Fortunately, I was able to snag one from a collection that came into All Time last January.  He was missing Swindle, but Max was nice enough to set me up with a replacement, and boom, here we are.  I really dig this figure.  He’s just a really good, solid toy, and I’m very glad to have him again.

#2953: Demolishor

DEMOLISHOR

TRANSFORMERS:ARMADA (HASBRO)

Demolishor fights ferociously in every battle to which he’s sent, regardless of the odds. If Megatron tells him to do something, he does it without hesitation. To Demolishor, a leader must always be obeyed at any cost. Megatron values the unswerving loyalty of his best soldier, but abandons him, when necessary, to save his own life. Demolishor has never resented any of these betrayals. But will there come a day when Demolishor questions the orders of his leader?”

Hey, remember when I was talking about Transformers: Armada a week ago?  Wanna here about it some more?  Well, you’re gonna, because it’s my site.  Sorry, I don’t make the rules.  Oh, wait, I actually do.  Well, there we are, I guess.  Last week, I looked at one of Armada’s heroic Autobots, so today, why not give the other side some coverage, with Decepticon Demolishor.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Demolishor was released alongside Hot Shot in the first wave of Super-Con Class Armada figures.  The assortment was the two of them and Cyclonus, who I don’t actually own.  In his robot mode, the figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 10 practical points of articulation.  Before we delve into the meat of the review, I want to address the elephant in the room: I am aware that Demolishor’s lower half is backwards in all of my photos of his robot mode.  I wasn’t aware when taking the photos, or for the nearly two decades I owned him prior to this review, but I’m aware now.  Honestly, he looks wrong to my eye in his correct configuration (I went for forward facing being the side that had the longer “feet” which seems more right to me), and this is genuinely how I’ve viewed him for almost 20 years, so I’ve decided to leave the photos as is.  For moral reasons, really.  Certainly not because I’m lazy and I didn’t want to have to reshoot and edit all of those photos.  Why would you even suggest that?  So, back to my morally correct version of Demolishor.  The robot mode on this guy does actually make for a pretty playable toy, much like Hot Shot.  Sure, he doesn’t have neck movement, but the arms are pretty solid, and they can even swivel forward and back, which not even Hot Shot could do.  Compared to Hot Shot, Demolishor’s kibble his also pretty minor. There are a few spots where extra details are present, but not really that many.  Demolishor also has a Mini-Con partner, Blackout, who, much like Jolt, is about 2 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Blackout allows Demolishor to unlock the missile launching feature on his shoulder, though this does require flipping his arms around.

Demolishor’s vehicle mode is a big made up sci-fi tank thing.  It’s a pretty easy transformation process, and the end mode is a pretty cool tank.  It’s even got a little seat, where you can place Blackout or one of the other Mini-Cons, in order to man the tank.  Blackout himself has his own tank mode.  It’s much smaller and conservative in its design, but it looks cool too, and can even combine with Demolishor’s vehicle mode for a more complete front to the tank.  In this mode, Blackout can also combine with Demolishor’s robot mode to form an arm cannon of sorts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I brought up in my Hot Shot review, I didn’t get my Armada figures new, but instead got them fairly quickly after their release when my cousin Patrick decided he didn’t want his anymore.  Demolishor was one of the three of them I got, and I got him mistransformed and without any instructions, so I just never knew.  Seriously, it kind of broke my mind you guys.  I found it out, and I had to text Max for emotional support and everything.  How could I be living this kind of lie all this time?  What else am I doing wrong?  Okay, it’s probably not that serious.  Demolishor may not have been my favorite of the three figures I had, but I did still really like him, and like Hot Shot, I still think he really holds up.

#2946: Hot Shot

HOT SHOT

TRANSFORMERS: ARMADA (HASBRO)

“Hot Shot is a young, heroic fighter who rushes into danger without regard to his own safety. He courageously charges into the middle of the fight to aid his friends in battle. He has taken charge in several battles, showing great leadership potential. But he needs the guidance of his elders before he can hope to lead the Autobots. Will he learn to be a leader who strives for good, or will his reckless nature ruin his promising future?”

As a child of the ’90s, as well as someone who sometimes dabbles in Transformers, it would be easy to assume that I’m into Beast Wars, but I’ve actually never had a particular attachment to it.  I mean, aside from Silverbolt.  That guy’s awesome.  Generally, I’ve tended to be more into the vehicle-based Transformers stuff.  I first dabbled with the franchise with 2001’s Robots in Disguise (which instilled in me a love of Ultra Magnus), but my first real investment in the franchise was during the show that followed in 2002, Transformers: Armada.  One of the central characters in Armada, and in fact the rest of the Unicron Trilogy, was Hot Shot, who I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hot Shot was part of Transformers: Armada‘s first wave of Super-Con Class figures, which were the line’s Deluxe Class equivalent.  He was the only Autobot in the assortment (which also included Cyclonus and Demolisher), and they all hit alongside the launch of the show in 2002.  In his robot mode, Hot Shot stands about 5 inches tall and he has 10 working points of articulation, as well as a moving visor for his helmet.  Emphasis was still very much on the transformations and vehicle modes at this point, so Hot Shot’s movement is rather restricted.  The legs do alright, but his head doesn’t move, and his shoulders move side to side, but there’s no forward and back.  For the time, though, he remained remarkably mobile.  Hot Shot’s sculpt actually does an okay job of matching up with how he looked in the cartoon.  His race car driver design is carried over well.  There’s a fair bit of kibble from his alt mode, especially on the backs of the arms, but it at least folds up to be out of the way.  Hot Shot got his own Mini-Con partner, Jolt.  Jolt is a much smaller robot, standing about inches tall, and having a whole 6 points of articulation.  Using Jolt (or any Mini-Con, really, but Jolt’s the best one), you can unlock Hot Shot’s built-in weapon, affectionately referred to as his “axlezooka”, which is spring loaded to deploy.  The springs on mine are a little weak, so it needs a little extra help, but it’s still pretty cool.  There’s meant to be a missile, but it’s missing from mine.  Jolt also has a rather big gun piece which Hot Shot can wear as chest armor.

Hot Shot’s alt-mode is a modified Audi TT, which is a fairly generic looking sports car, really.  The transformation sequence is actually rather simple, so it makes it very easy to switch him back and forth without much trouble.  He also stays in the mode very securely.  In general, it just works very well.  Jolt has his own alt-mode; he transforms into a small helicopter through an even simpler transformation process.  Jolt’s gun can also be mounted to the front of Hot Shot’s hood, and Jolt can be mounted on one of the three Mini-Con ports on the vehicle mode.  The central one actually releases the springs on Hot Shot’s feet, to use as “driving claws.”  You know, as you do.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite how much I liked the show and kept up with it when it was new, I didn’t actually get any of the toys first hand when they were new.  Instead, my initial exposure to them was through my cousin Patrick, who had a small handful of them, and would frequently bring them over for both of us to play with.  During that time, Hot Shot was always my go-to.  Patrick decided fairly quickly that he didn’t need to keep them, so they were rather quickly gifted to me.  Hot Shot himself wound up getting lost at my grandparents’ house some time during my childhood, and it wasn’t until after I moved into their house a few years ago that I actually found him again.  He was missing all of his extra stuff, but fortunately for me, Max was able to help me out and get me set-up with Jolt and the gun.  I like this guy a lot, and he’s probably the most nostalgic I get about Transformers.