#2696: Cyclonus

CYCLONUS

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: KINGDOM (HASBRO)

Yesterday, I kicked things off in a decidedly not G1 fashion for this week’s Transformers reviews.  Today, however, I’m flipping the script, and going for the decidedly G1 fashion.  See, in addition to this year’s focus on Beast Wars, the main line is also splitting that focus to take a look at the other notable piece of media with halfway notable anniversary, Transformers: The Movie.  While most of the ’86 focus is in Studio Series, it’s overflowing a touch into Kingdom as well.  One of Galvatron’s two lieutenants, Scourge, made it into the Studio Series line-up, but his other secondary, and today’s focus, Cyclonus is instead part of the Kingdom line-up.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cyclonus makes up one half of the first Voyager Class assortment of Kingdom, alongside Optimus Primal.  He’s designed to be compatible with the Studio Series figures, so his design is generally closer to animation accuracy than prior main line figures.  In his robot mode, he stands about 7 inches tall and he has 25 usable points of articulation.  In contrast to the two Beast Wars figures I’ve looked at from the line, the articulation on this guy is pretty nicely designed and laid out.  The movement is pretty smooth, and he’s got a good range of motion.  The sculpt is very cleanly rendered, and followed the animation model very closely.  He’s appropriately sharp and angular, which is really how Cyclonus should be.  The kibble from his alt-mode folds up nicely into the robot mode, and doesn’t impede his movement.  Generally, it’s a nice, very solid sculpt, and the figure really has a nice heft to him.  Additionally, thanks to the design of the legs, it’s possible to adjust the height of the figure a little bit, thus replicating Cyclonus’ slightly variable size from the animation, which is certainly a cool touch.  Cyclonus is packed with his “Oxidating Laser” weapon, which is a pretty nifty looking sci-fi-esque gun.

Cyclonus’ alt-mode is a space jet fighter, just like it was in the movie.  It’s a pretty reasonable transformation process, that isn’t too difficult to get through.  It’s certainly not as fiddly as some of the Studio Series figures.  I did get a kick out of the Russian nesting doll-esque nature of unfolding the nose cone over and over again.  The end result is pretty decent, though I did have some trouble getting the mid-section to clip into place just right on mine.  I’m not sure if that’s an across the board thing, an issue with my figure thing, or an “Ethan’s not always great with Transformers” thing.  It’s certainly a minor thing, so there’s that.  Like the robot mode, the jet fighter mode is fairly animation accurate, and even has some fun little touches, such as fold out landing gear.  The Laser can be mounted to the top of the jet mode, for a more offensive set up.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

With the ’86 guys, I’m generally more of a heroes guy than a villains guy.  Because of that, I opted to pass on Scourge when he hit.  Cyclonus is a slightly different story for me.  He did have a tendency to get paired off against Ultra Magnus, and he’s also notable in the small handful of Transformers comics I’ve actually read.  Plus, there’s no denying that he’s got a pretty slick look.  All of that made it pretty hard for me to pass this guy up.  I’m glad I opted not to pass on him, because he’s quite a nice figure, and makes me feel not quite so bad about Kingdom as a whole.  Definitely my favorite piece of the figures from launch.

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

#2671: Cheetor

CHEETOR

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: KINGDOM (HASBRO)

Hey, did you guys know that there’s, like, Transformers that’s not G1 or G1 inspired?  I know, I thought it was a weird concept myself.  Like, are they allowed to do that?  In checking it out, apparently the answer is “Yes.”  Typical “Ethan’s being sarcastic, isn’t he oh so clever” opening aside, Beast Wars, which launched in 1996 was the third major incarnation of the franchise, and was also my first real introduction to Transformers, by virtue of me, you know, not really having been around for the prior two.  It’s actually the first Transformers for a good number of people, and has, over the years, picked up quite a following, even as the franchise keeps shifting its focus back to G1.  But, Beast Wars fans are getting thrown a deceased animal’s bone this year, as Hasbro celebrates its 25th Anniversary with Kingdom, the third part of the War For Cybertron Trilogy, which is heavily centered around the Beast Wars cast.  Heading off the charge is one of the show’s most prominent characters, Cheetor, who I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cheetor is part of the first Deluxe Class assortment for Kingdom, and alongside Blackarachnia, makes it half-Beast Wars, which is the set-up for all of the starting line-ups.  At least this assortment doesn’t have anyone being repackaged from Earthrise, I guess.  Cheetor had a few different appearances over the course of the original Beast Wars, but this one is based on his original appearance.  In his robot mode, Cheetor stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 24 workable points of articulation.  In contrast to some more recent efforts, the articulation on Cheetor is rather on the restricted side of things.  His movement just generally feels pretty stiff, and a lot of the joints get okay movement one direction, but not another.  Additionally, the movement on his elbows and knees in particular is rather restricted, making him just generally harder to pose than a lot of compatriots.  The figure’s sculpt does an alright job of capturing the animation model for the character, but there are definitely some compromises made for the sake of transformation.  He also winds up with a bit more kibble than he should in a few spots, notably the backs of his hands and the tops of his lower legs.  This ultimately makes him feel a little bit less refined, I think, then he maybe should.  He just generally feels a little bit more slapdash.  Cheetor is accessorized with one weapon, a whip made from his alt-mode’s tail.  It’s an okay looking piece, but notably not a weapon that was used by this incarnation of his design; the whip came with his Transmetals release.  This one should technically get the “gut gun”, but it isn’t present.

With a name like Cheetor, his alt-mode probably isn’t too hard to figure out.  He turns into, that’s right, a Cheetah.  The transformation sequence is a little stubborn in a few spots, and there’s a tab on the back of the cheetah head’s neck that is pretty much guaranteed to break.  It’s fortunately not super necessary for either mode, and I was able to avoid breaking mine (the stress marks are certainly there, though), but breaking during the first transformation’s not the kind of recurring issue you want to run into with a Transformers figure.  At the very least, the cheetah mode does end up looking pretty good.  It’s certainly an improvement over most of his older toys, I can say that much.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Beast Wars was my first interaction with Transformers, and if I’m being entirely honest, it’s probably a contributing factor as to why it took my so long to get into Transformers.  There are parts of it I enjoyed as a kid, and am still nostalgic about, though, and I do like Cheetor alright as a character.  So, I’m sort of trying some stuff out with Kingdom, and Cheetor was the first one of them I had the chance to pick up.  Honestly, I don’t know that he’s a great place to start with the line.  He’s not terrible, but he’s also not super great, at least by my metrics.  I’m hoping that others prove to be a little bit better, especially considering the prior two entries in the trilogy had little trouble getting me to care about other characters in the franchise I previously had little attachment to.

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

#2670: Autobot Hot Rod

AUTOBOT HOT ROD

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

“Hot Rod embraces his destiny, becoming Rodimus Prime and defeating Unicron.”

Whoa, spoilers there guys.  We just picked up this Hot Rod figure and you’re already telling me he’s irrelevant?

Transformers: The Movie introduced a whole new slate of characters, and at the center of this new cast was the new planned lead for the franchise, Hot Rod, who would become Rodimus Prime before the film’s end.  Obviously, this didn’t stick, but that sure was the plan.  Even without being the franchise’s lead, Hot Rod’s made out pretty well on the toy front.  That being said, he has, as of yet, been absent from the latest incarnation of the line with all of its centralized scaling and such.  But, with it being the 35th anniversary of the movie where he’s definitely the lead, it’s hard to say that it was truly a shock that he was included in some sort of capacity this year, now was it?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Autobot Hot Rod makes up one half of the Voyager Class component for the ’86-inspired Studio Series line-up. He’s figure 86-04 (because 86-03 is the last of the Deluxes, which is Blurrr, and I didn’t wind up grabbing him…yet…).  In his robot mode, Hot Rod stands 5 3/4 inches tall and he has 28 practical points of articulation.  Given he’s a Voyager Class figure, Hot Rod does seem a little bit on the smaller side, being more in line with Deluxe scaling.  This is, however accurate for Hot Rod from a scaling standpoint, and more over, the higher price point of the figure comes less from sheer sizing of the figure, and more from the complexity of the tooling and engineering.  In particular, Hot Rod winds up with an articulation scheme far improved compared to his Deluxe Class companions.  He’s not only got more functioning joints when in his robot mode, but also has generally a greater range of motion on those joints.  Unlike the last pair of Hot Rods I looked at, he doesn’t suffer from any major points of restriction, which is a real plus.  He’s even got hinged hands, meaning it’s a Hot Rod that can finally hold a Matrix.  What a crazy concept.  The sculpt proper is a pretty spot-on recreation of the animation design, and is just a generally clean looking piece of work.  It’s got a nice, sleek feel to it that seems really right for Hot Rod.  Even his vehicle mode kibble has been streamlined further than prior releases, meaning he’s a Hot Rod that doesn’t have the whole top of his car mode hanging off his back for once.  In addition to the basic robot mode, Hot Rod also has a few cool built-in features, including a visor that drops down from the top of his head (in the same fashion as the Masterpiece version), as well as hands that flip out for his welder and a 5mm peg allowing the mounting of the saw hand for his right and left hands respectively.  It helps to really give him that all-encompassing feel.  Aiding in the all-encompassing feel are the aforementioned alternate saw hand, his two blasters, the Matrix of Leadership (borrowed from Earthrise Optimus, and capable of actually being held this time around), an effects piece for the Matrix, and two effects for his forearm blasters.

Hot Rod’s alt-mode remains consistent with the other G1-inspired versions of the character, being based on the futuristic sports car mode from the movie.  It’s sleek and, like Kup, presumably pretty easy to animate.  In the case of Hot Rod, it’s also pretty distinctive, since it’s stuck with the character over the years.  The transformation process is a fairly involved set up with a lot of moving parts, but even so I found it to be a little more intuitive than other, more fiddly Studio Series figures.  I guess it still counts as a little fiddly, but it just feels less so to me.  Also of note about this transformation is that it involves the arms flipping sides, replicating the one notable transformation pattern not done by the toys.  The final transformed product looks not unlike the car modes on the other two Hot Rods I have, with the caveat of, of course, still having that more posable robot mode.  In car mode, the two blasters can be mounted to the front, and the effects for the forearms now work as exhaust effects.  The saw attachment can *technically* go on top of the guns, but due to how the clearance on the parts works, it’s going to cause some paint chipping on the guns, so I didn’t push it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted early last year when I reviewed the Power of the Primes Rodimus, I have definitely been wanting a Hot Rod to go with the rest of my updated cast.  The inner figure from that set was a decent place holder, in fact more than decent, so when this guy got announced I was intrigued but not certain how essential he’d be.  The short of it is that he’s *very* essential.  He’s undoubtedly the centerpiece of this particular set, and the most impressive Hot Rod figure I can think of.  He just does a lot and he does pretty much all of it very well.  He exemplifies the mini-Masterpiece thing that these figures have been doing since Siege in the best possible way.

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 and their eBay storefront.

#2669: Kup

KUP

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

“Kup fights for his spark as a giant robot squid tears him apart.”

One of the main focuses of Transformers: The Movie was introducing a new cast of characters, and by extension, a new selection of toys for the audience to buy.  After disposing of the original cast in relatively quick fashion, the movie shifts its focus to the new cast, generally made up of younger ‘bots, but not entirely, as is the case with good ol’ Kup here, the cast’s perpetual old guy, defined equally by his old-ness and his guy-ness.  The split between the cast for the two plot-lines places Kup with Hot Rod for most of the film’s mid-section, so he certainly gets a decent chunk of screen time, and that makes him decently memorable.  It also makes him a good choice for inclusion in the Studio Series assortment, which I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kup is the another part of the Deluxe-class assortment for the ’86 tie-in Studio Series stuff.  He’s officially numbered 86-02, placing him just after Jazz.  Kup previously got figure treatment in the Titans Return line-up, but this one is more animation accurate, as is expected for this line.  In robot mode, he stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 20 workable points of articulation.  What’s rather curiously missing from the articulation are any sort of wrist joints; he looks like he’s got them, but it’s all a fabrication, I’m afraid.  Kup’s sculpt is all-new, and while it certainly aims for screen accuracy, it doesn’t *quite* get as close as some of the others in this assortment.  There are definitely parts that are really good, and I’m particularly a fan of that head sculpt.  However, the body seems to be a bit too broad across the shoulders for Kup, and the limbs are comparatively kind of scrawny.  On the whole, not atrocious, but not quite on the same level as the rest of the line.  Given that did seem to be some shuffling as to what was going in EarthriseKingdom, or Studio Series, I’d say it’s a definite possibility that Kup may have been intended for one of the other two lines, and just wound up in this line instead.  Whatever the case, the sculpt’s still pretty decent, and there are some pretty fun touches.  Most notably, the limbs are all mounted on 5mm ports, so Kup can be dismantled and put back together, just like in the movie.

Kup’s alt-mode, like many of the main characters in Transformers: The Movie, doesn’t have an actual real-world equivalent.  It’s instead a sci-fi, future-esque pick-up truck sort of thing.  It’s never been one of the more visually interesting vehicles, but I bet it sure was easy to animate!  The transformation to get him into the truck is a little bit on the fiddly side, and if you have a tendency to actually follow the directions (which I still do), they might slightly mislead you on a few spots.  I definitely had a little bit of back tracking.  That said, it still isn’t too much, and the end result ends up being pretty faithful both to what’s on screen and to his original toy’s alt-mode.  Kup is packed with a rifle and the little Energon dispenser he and Hot Rod use to calm the Quintessons.  Points for the very scene specific extra!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Transformers: The Movie is kind of my go-to G1 representation for Transformers, owing a lot to its very distinctive visuals and soundtrack.  As such, my collecting now that I’m actually into Transformers tends to center around stuff from that movie.  I’ve been hoping for a nice Kup to help round out the film’s cast for a while.  Prior versions aren’t terrible, but I’m not much for the headmasters gimmick, and was definitely looking for one of him without.  This one has his own set of things going on, and I can’t say he’s the particular stand-out of the set or anything, but he’s a solid rendition of the character, and I’m glad to have him for the shelf.

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

#2668: Autobot Jazz

AUTOBOT JAZZ

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

“Autobot Jazz tries to escape Moonbase One before Unicron devours it, but he doesn’t make it and is swallowed up by the Planet Eater.”

2021 marks the 35th anniversary of Transformers: The Movie hitting theaters, and in an effort to celebrate it, Hasbro’s going totally crazy and releasing….cartoon based figures in their Studio Series line?  What!?!  Okay, it’s not really that crazy of a concept when you get right down to it.  Studio Series is a line of figures dedicated to getting as close to screen-accurate recreations of the characters from the Transformers movies as possible; it’s honestly not that crazy a concept that they might want to devote at least a little bit of the line to the actual first theatrical Transformers movie, especially in a year where the main line, Kingdom, isn’t looking to be *quite* as G1 heavy as the main line for the last two years.  So, Studio Series is effectively picking up where Earthrise left off, and giving us some more updates of classic G1 characters in this new cohesive style that Hasbro’s been working on crafting the last few years.  Kicking things off is perhaps the most prominent of the original ‘bots still missing from this new style, that guy with the oh-so-hard-to-copyright-name, Jazz!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Autobot Jazz is part of the Deluxe-class component for the Transformers: The Movie-inspired selection of Studio Series figures.  He is officially the first of the set, numbered 86-01 (they have re-started the numbering for these guys, and are using 86, the year the movie was released, as their prefix).  Though officially slated for a March 2021 release, these guys have hit a few places on the earlier side.  Of all of the figures in this 86-inspired line-up, Jazz is notable for being the only of the original Autobots present.  It’s fitting, since he’s one of three of the originals to make it through the film alive, though his role is certainly not as plot relevant as some of the others included here.  Of course, I’m hardly going to argue with getting a new Jazz.  We haven’t gotten one since Power of the Primes, and I’d honestly rather not talk about that one.  In his robot mode, this guy stands just shy of 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 20 practical points of articulation.  Jazz is an all-new mold, patterned on his G1 animation design, of course.  The most notable thing about that is that it means he lacks the door wing kibble that most G1-inspired Jazzes have included.  I’m not really that major one way or the other on whether or not he’s got them, but it’s cool that they went specifically animation-styled for this one.  Beyond that little detail, he’s just a generally nice recreation of the design on the cartoon.  It’s a clean looking design to be sure, which certainly fits the character.  No Siege greebliness to be found here.  I wasn’t quite as bothered by that as some people, but I will admit I do really like the clean lines on this guy.  In particular, I’m very fond of the head sculpt, which does quite a respectable job of getting Jazz’s signature design down.  He doesn’t really get many of the 5mm ports that the main lines have been getting, which means he’s not quite as customizable, but on the flip side, it continues his overall cleaner appearance.

Jazz’s alt-mode is pretty much the same as his original G1 counterpart, where he turned into a Porsche 935 racing car.  This one is essentially that, though he’s specifically based on the animation version of that car, meaning it’s not *quite* a Porshe.  Presumably, this means that he didn’t require licensing, which is a slight shift for Studio Series, but not entirely unheard of, especially given that the rest of Jazz’s compatriots in this line-up have completely made up alt-modes.  This one looks pretty good, and his transformation’s not quite as fiddly as Studio Series stuff tends to be, so I on the whole rather preferred it to a lot of the others I’ve messed with.  I did find it a little tricky to get his chest and head properly oriented upon returning him to robot mode, but it’s not too rough.  It holds together pretty well, and generally looks pretty good, too.  Jazz is packed with is usual Photon Rifle, which he can either hand-wield in his robot mode, or mount to the top of of his car mode.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Jazz is definitely on my short list of favorite Transformers.  He’s not quite at Soundwave or Ultra Magnus levels, or anything, but I definitely like him, and was very much waiting for him to get some sort of update in this modern era of Transformers figures.  It’s been a long wait, but I was very happy to hear he’d be in this assortment, and he’s certainly the one I was most looking forward to personally.  He’s a strong release, and certainly the best Jazz I own, though perhaps that’s not saying a lot.  Still, he’s really cool, and that works for me.

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

#2667: Soundwave & Ravage

SOUNDWAVE & RAVAGE

TRANSFORMERS: BUMBLEBEE DLX (THREEZERO)

So….remember about two weeks ago, when I was discussing the oxymoronic nature of non-transforming Transformers?  Man, aren’t they just a crazy concept that will never catch on?  Certainly I’m not going to be backing that horse any time soon, right?  …Yeah, about that… Despite only really being a moderate Transformers fan, and also recently finding myself grouped with the people that think maybe Transformers should transform, I may have well gone and bought a rather pricey non-transforming Transformer for myself.  Look, in my defense, it’s Soundwave.  Also, it’s from Bumblebee.  Exactly how was I supposed to say no?  And, while we’re all on the topic, this isn’t a completely transformation-less Transformers release, for reasons I shall get into in the review itself!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Soundwave & Ravage were released as part of ThreeZero’s Transformers DLX line, which has so far been dedicated to designs from Bumblebee.  This marks the fourth release in the line, following Bumblebee, Prime, and Blitzwing.  Soundwave’s definitely a little more of a reach than the others in terms of his role in the film, but he’s freaking Soundwave, so it’s not like it’s super hard to figure out why they’d choose to release him, and bundling in Ravage is just pretty straight forward stuff, really.  The packaging is pretty adamant about referring to both of the figures included here, but make no mistake, Soundwave’s the main deal, and Ravage is really just an accessory.  Soundwave stands about 11 1/4 inches tall and has, like, a lot of articulation.  Getting an accurate count’s kind of tricky, because so many of the joints are really just there to aid other joints in the posing process.  What I’m getting at here is that posing Soundwave is a pretty darn involved process, which requires you to really want to know how you’re posing him before jumping in.  He’s designed with lots of lifting and moving plates, in order to ensure the best posability, while also keeping him movie accurate in the sculpt department.  It takes some getting used to, and if you’re not careful you might end up with some breakage, so reading through the instructions and learning what lifts and how is a good idea.  I myself wound up accidentally popping the glue on one of his front waist panels when I moved his hip forward incorrectly, so I know first hand the need to be careful.  The figure’s sculpt is dedicated to recreating the movie-interpretation of Soundwave’s G1 design as closely as possible, and based on what I could see from his brief appearances in the film, they’ve done a very nice job of capturing that design.  His internal workings make use of some actual metal parts, which makes him both sturdy and hefty, and it’s all sort of wrapped in an outer shell made up of a lot of separate plastic plates, which are responsible for making him look all Soundwave-y.  The detailing on those plates is all very sharp and they look properly machined.  For the most part, they also stay in place very securely.  The body beneath those plates is likewise quite nicely detailed for the most part, though I was somewhat surprised to find that the internal detailing for the torso isn’t actually sculpted, and is instead a decal. I get the why, ultimately, but it does feel ever so slightly like a step down compared to the rest of the figure.  Soundwave has no alt-mode, of course, but that’s something he share’s with his movie counterpart since Soundwave, like a lot of the Cybertronians we see early in the film, wasn’t actually designed with one in mind.  That does make his lack of transformation a little less egregious than the three prior figures, I suppose.  Soundwave’s paintwork is quite impressively handled.  The base colors are nice and bright, and eye catching, and there’s quite a lot of detail that’s been put into making all of the plates and such look worn in and damaged.  There’s a lot of simulated wear and tear, and it looks quite convincing, and is quite certainly of a higher caliber than, say, Siege.  Soundwave includes a light-up feature for his visor.  You’ll need to provide two button cell batteries of your own, but it’s a very nice effect, and adds just a little extra pop to him when on display.  Soundwave is packed with a decent selection of extras.  There are quite a few extra hands, 9 of them to be exact, in fists, open gesture, open relaxed, and trigger finger pairs, and one two finger gesture hand for the left side.  He also gets a blaster rifle, a display stand, and most importantly…

…Ravage!  Soundwave wouldn’t be much good without one of his cassette buddies to keep him company, now would he?  Of course not!  Ravage got a whole bit of focus in the movie, so there was this whole fully rendered model there to use as well, so I guess that does sort of make the whole thing easier.  Ravage is about 4 inches long, and has 17 workable points of articulation.  The articulation’s not quite as involved on Ravage, largely because Ravage isn’t as posable as Soundwave.  He’s still got all the basic movement he’ll need of course, and on top of that, he’s got all the movement he needs to, what’s that, actually transform?  Wait, is there an actual Transformer here?  Why, yes there is!   For Ravage isn’t just permanently in panther mode, but is able to also be folded up into the movie’s approximation of a cassette mode.  Said cassette mode can be stored in Soundwave’s chest compartment, as seen in the movie.  The transformation’s a little bit nerve wracking, if I’m honest, but I’m certainly glad it’s there, and it gives both Ravage and Soundwave a little bit of extra fun factor when messing around with them.  To help facilitate this transformation, Ravage also gets a few accessories of his own, as the side mounted rockets and the cannon for his back are removable parts which can be added to the figure when he’s in panther mode.  Pretty dope.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It all started a little over a year ago, back before Transformers R.E.D. was even a thing on my mind, and therefore a thing that was well and truly getting me thinking about non-transforming Transformers.  We’d seen the first three DLX figures, and they were certainly cool, but not enough for me to really jump on the bandwagon.  Then Soundwave got shown off, and Jason from All Time Toys was looking at possibly placing an order, but really only if I was interested in picking one up.  I’m no stranger to high-end toys, but I’d not yet jumped down this particular rabbit hole with Transformers.  But…it was Soundwave, and it was also like a year away, so I had plenty of time to save up for him.  Good thing, too, since that year was 2020, and, well, we all know how that went.  Needless to say, he arrived, and I was quite happy to finally pick him up.  He’s definitely very different from anything else I own Transformers-wise, but I was definitely expecting that.  He’s certainly more collectible than toy, and isn’t really meant for fidgeting with the same way as other Transformers, but I still had a lot of fun messing with him once I took him out of the box, and he’s a tremendously impressive piece when sitting on the shelf.  I certainly wasn’t expecting to have *two* non-transforming Soundwaves in the space of a month, but worse things have certainly happened.

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

#2657: Bumblebee

BUMBLEBEE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON TRILOGY (HASBRO)

Despite his prominent placement in the franchise as a whole and in the tie-in media for the War For Cybertron Trilogy, mainstay Autobot Bumblebee has been completely absent from the main line for the first two parts of said trilogy.  It’s been a weird, almost gnawing omission, since we got Cliffjumper and a handful of other Bee-esque molds throughout the year, and he’s also had a fairly sizable role in Netflix’s tie-in animation.  Eventually, he surfaced, but rather than being a mainline release, he’s instead part of the previously repaints-only Walmart tie-in line for the animation.  Oh joy, another Walmart exclusive.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bumblebee is part of the second round of Walmart’s War For Cybertron Trilogy line, and is part of the five piece deluxe-class assortment, alongside three repaints, and the similarly new offering of Elita-1.  In his robot mode, Bumblebee stands 4 inches tall and has 22 workable points of articulation.  In theory, he’s based on the cartoon, but…well, he’s not.  Bumblebee had no Siege figure, so while many of the characters featured in the cartoon used direct copies of the original CAD files, Bumblebee was an all new model created for the cartoon.  These two designs are certainly drawing from the same source (G1 Animation Bumblebee), but a spitting image of his cartoon counterpart, he is not.  Structurally, this figure is, as expected a re-tool of the Cliffjumper mold from early last year.  It was probably my favorite mold to come out of Earthrise, so it’s definitely a good starting point.  He gets a different head (shared with Bug Bite, but obviously designed for Bee), as well as new parts for his mid-section and feet.  Why the new parts for the mid-section and feet?  That’s because…

…he also gets a new alt-mode!  While Bug Bite and Hubcap both shared Cliffjumper’s generic sports car alt-mode, Bumblebee gets his exterior pieces replaced, allowing him to transform into an authentic, fully-licensed Volkswagon Beetle.  The general transformation sequence is the same as all prior uses of the CJ mold, so there’s still that little touch of parts-forming required with the back of the car, but I still really don’t mind.  It’s a decent transformation sequence, and ultimately it results in quite a nice alt-mode for the figure.  It’s clean, it holds together well, and it’s undeniably a Beetle.  It also means that Bee stands out a bit from the other uses of this mold, which feels appropriate for him.  Bumblebee gets the same accessory selection as all prior uses of the mold: the modular cannon thing.  It’s in the same colors as Cliffjumper’s.  It’s a fun piece, and adds a lot of variety to the figure, so I don’t mind getting it again.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Obviously, I, like a lot of people, have been waiting for a proper Bumblebee in this line since Siege launched.  Simply put, it’s stupid that they opted to make him a Walmart-exclusive, because it guarantees that he’s going the be hard to find and go for stupid amounts of money on the aftermarket.  They really need to stop making core looks exclusives, especially to Walmart.  Hopefully, the plethora of fiascos revolving around these exclusives in the last year will get Hasbro to ease up on them a bit moving forward.  As I’ve said on a lot of these exclusives, I hope that Hasbro finds a way to make these more readily available so that more people can get them, because Bumblebee is a very nice figure, and goes very well with the rest of the standard line.  Also, a shout out to Max for setting me up with this figure, so that I could, actually, you know, have him.  That was super dope.

#2656: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS: R.E.D. (HASBRO)

Ah, yes, non-Transforming Transformers.  A wonderful little oxymoronic concept that’s been rattling around ever since the introduction of Action Masters in 1990.  Over the years, it’s been something that Hasbro (and some of their licensees) have gravitated back to every so often, as a way of offering figures that are more accurate to what you see on the screen, thanks to not needing to have any sort of compromise for the sake of an alt-mode.  They’re newest stab at this venture is Transformers: R.E.D., short for “Robot Enhanced Design.”  It’s designed to pair off with the likes of The Black Series, being a highly-articulated line of collector-aimed Transformers figures…that don’t transform.  I’m giving the line a try with who else but Soundwave?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave is one of the three figures in the debut assortment of R.E.D., which was exclusive to Walmart.  I know, everyone’s super-thrilled, right?  This version of Soundwave is heavily inspired by his original G1 cartoon design, taking into account all of the impossibilities of that design in regards to an actual transformation sequence.   The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation.  In terms of sizing, he falls somewhere between and deluxe and a voyager class from the main line, meaning he fits in alright with the standard, actually transforming Transformers, if that’s something you’re interested in.  Despite being designed as a companion line to their other 6-inch stuff, he’s, of course, not even remotely in scale with Black Series or Legends.  Honestly, actual scaling aside, even just as a “hey wouldn’t he be cool robot figure to put with them” sort of thing, he seems a bit on the small side.  The articulation is overall pretty good on this guy.  It’s a slight step up from the Siege mold in its robot form, with more range in areas such as the shoulders and wrists in particular, but just a greater range of motion across the board, really.  The only area where I had any trouble was the ankles, which are just hard to get to move, I think in part due to the size of the joints.  They’re rather large joints, and prone to getting stuck.  In terms of sculpt, Soundwave is admittedly a pretty spot-on recreation of the G1 animation model.  They really got the proportions down pretty well, and the head and torso in particular really nail this particular look.  The torso even features the eject feature for the tape deck in his chest, although in the case of my figure, it does have a tendency to get stuck.  The articulation is pretty well worked in, and it all looks pretty clean.  For the most part, anyway. I do have one notable issue with the sculpt, and it circles back around the issue I had with the articulation: the ankles and feet.  They’ve given him these rather large ball-shaped universal joints, and they’re just kind of obtrusive and not very well worked into the sculpt.  They don’t follow the model, and they don’t look great.  But, from the ankles up, everything’s great.  The paint work on this figure goes for a flat color scheme to match the cel animation.  It’s a more muted appearance than other figures as of late, but it works out alright.  And hey, it’s a Soundwave with a red visor.  That’s cool!  Two of those from Hasbro in a year.  Not bad.  Soundwave is packed with a small version of Laserbeak in tape form, two sets of hands (gripping and fist/button pressing), his shoulder cannon, and his gun.  It hits all the basics, but it feels a bit light.  Couldn’t we at least get Ravage or Laserbeak in their robot modes?  Or perhaps the perpetual red-headed stepchild of the cassettes, Buzzsaw?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My interactions with Transformers in the last two years have sort of shifted my opinions on things, because in 2018, this is the kind of line that I probably would have been a bit more excited by, being a fan of the Transformers as cool robots, but not much else.  But, Siege and Earthrise have showcased to me that Hasbro can make some really good robot action figures that still have transformations, making the prospect of this line a harder sell.  When Prime and Megatron were the only two we knew about, it was an easy pass, especially with that bit about the Walmart exclusivity.  Then they had to go and show this guy, and my stupid love of stupid Soundwave dragged stupid old me back in.  The Soundwave that eventually became mine wasn’t originally meant for me at all, however.  Max found two of them at retail, but was unable to get a response from me, so only bought this one for himself.  After opening and messing with the figure, however, he ended up just asking if I wanted this one, because he wasn’t really feeling it.  I certainly wasn’t going to pass on a G1 Soundwave I didn’t have, so I was more than happy to take it off his hands.  Ultimately, getting him within a week or so of the Earthrise Soundwave, he feels a little redundant and out of place, but I can appreciate him for what he is, even if what he is winds up being a bit…counterintuitive?

#2633: Ultra Magnus Merchandise

ULTRA MAGNUS PULSATING LIGHT AM RADIO & ELECTRONIC VOICE SYNTHESIZER

TRANSFORMERS: POWER TRONIC (NASTA)

As we come into the second day of the Post-Christmas reviews, I’m heading into some slightly uncharted territory.  Firstly, I’m looking at something Transformers related which, while not completely a first for Christmas gifts for me, is still sort of new and fresh, seeing as I’ve only recently really gotten into it.  And secondly, and in fact most differently, I’m not actually looking at action figures at all, but rather some action figure adjacent product.  It’s not explicitly a first for me, I guess.  I mean, I did review a stapler that one time, and that’s not even action figure adjacent.  That’s just oddball is what that is.  What am I getting at here?  Well, more or less that I’m not really reviewing action figures for the day.  Hopefully this will be just as good…or at least up to whatever the quality of my usual output is, anyway.  Whatever the outcome, I guess we should look at this Ultra Magnus Merch I got, huh?

THE TOYS THEMSELVES

The two toys in question are the Ultra Magnus Pulsating Light AM Radio and the Electronic Voice Synthesizer, both of which were produced in 1986 by Nastra under their Power Tronic brand.  They were both released to coincide with Transformers: The Movie arriving in theaters that same year, and to capitalize on Ultra Magnus’s role therein.  I can dig it.  Let’s first discuss the “Pulsating Light AM Radio,” a somewhat perplexing item.  I mean, if you’re going to make a Transformers-themed radio, wouldn’t it make sense to at least pick one of the characters who actually turns into sound equipment?  Or am I talking the crazy talk.  Given that I’m arguing against there being another Ultra Magnus thing, I may very well be talking the crazy talk.  The actual item’s not that crazy, I suppose.  It measures 7 1/2 inches tall, and is pretty much just a scaled up replica of the G1 Ultra Magnus’s armored head.  It’s not quite as human-esque as later Magnuses, of course, but I think that works somewhat to this item’s favor, because it looks a little bit more artistic, and less like someone’s just decapitated Ultra Magnus.  It’s molded in the same shade of blue as the figure, and uses silver paint for the appropriate details, which honestly looks pretty good.  The radio runs on four AA batteries, which are loaded into the Magnus’s “antenna” on the sides of his head.  There are dials on the back of the head for turning on and adjusting the volume, as well as tuning the station.  I was quite happy to find that the radio function on mine still works, however the pulsating light function sadly is no more.  Oh well.

The second item featured here is the Electronic Voice Synthesizer, which is clearly Ultra Magnus, but is not actually named as such on the item’s packaging.  The item allows the owner to “talk like a robot” by mouthing words into the plastic straw that pops out of the figure’s back, and is essentially a simplified version of an electrolarynx device.  They were somewhat common amongst licensed products in the ’80s, so Transformers getting in on the game is perhaps not the biggest shock.  The item stands 4 1/2 inches tall and actually does have articulation, with joints at both shoulders, and some slight movement on the neck.  Much like the radio, this item is clearly patterned on the G1 toy’s mold, just scaled way down this time.  It’s rather crude and rudimentary, and has a distinct lack of Magnus’s shoulder towers, but is overall an okay piece.  Rather than apply any paint to this one, he’s instead just molded in three different colors of plastic, meaning he’s more an approximation of Magnus’s color scheme than an accurate depiction.  The Voice Synthesizer runs on a 9-Volt battery, which goes in the base of the feet.  I haven’t tested mine because I just don’t really want to put my mouth on it, so, you know, there it is, I guess.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ultra Magnus is really becoming my main man when it comes to Transformers stuff, and I’ve picked up quite a healthy helping of Magnus-related stuff in the last year.  The stuff in the column of “what I don’t have” is becoming a bit more on the obscure side, and included these two, neither of which I expected to add to my collection quite this quickly.  I did add them to my collection quite this quickly, however, thanks to Jason from All Time Toys, who gave them both to me this year for Christmas.  They’re not standard action figure fare, but they are still a ton of fun, goofy fun, but fun to be sure!

#2628: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON TRILOGY (HASBRO)

Oh man, was my last Soundwave review on the site really Bayverse?  Yikes, I can’t let that stick.  I mean, at least he wasn’t some stupid sports car or something, but still.  Okay, let’s got extra, primo classic with this one then, I guess.

This summer, Netflix dropped a new Transformers cartoon, based on Hasbro’s currently running War For Cybertron trilogy of toy lines.  Hasbro corresponded with a set of Walmart-exclusive re-decos of some of their figures, making them a bit more show accurate.  With the show’s second part, Earthrise, upon us, Hasbro’s doing something a little different, and actually using this exclusive line to do some slightly reworked sculpts.  In the case of today’s Soundwave, that means he actually gets an earth mode this time.  Gee, I wonder what it might be?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave is part of the second assortment of Walmart’s War For Cybertron Trilogy line.  He’s one of two Voyager class offerings this round, with the other being Optimus Prime.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 6 1/2 niches tall and he has 25 workable points of articulation.  As I touched on in the intro, some of the second assortment figures got some new tooling, and Soundwave is included there.  He’s got quite a few parts in common with his Siege counterpart, including the head, forearms, hands, feet, and parts of his pelvis.  I was a little bummed that the forearms were kept the same, since they were one of my only complaints about the original, but I guess they had to draw the line somewhere.  Additionally, much of the inner workings of this figure, notably the articulation, are shared between the two.  Siege Soundwave is a very nice figure in his own right, and very strong recreation of his G1 bot mode, so keeping a lot of the parts is fine by me.  The new pieces are largely just about changing up some surface level details.  Some of the more greebly bits are removed from the arms and legs, and he’s generally just made cleaner and sleeker, bringing him a little closer to his original design.  The biggest changes occur on the torso, which is a little wider hand has a slightly different construction at a few spots, as well as removing a number of the moving parts from the Siege mold.  The reasoning behind this change comes more into play in the next section.

Boom, here we are in the next section, where we discuss the figure’s alt-mode.  Since the ‘80s, Soundwave figures have had to deal with the question of what to do for an alt-mode for a guy who turns into out of date tech.  The Siege figure gave him a weird sort of dropship mode, which I didn’t hate, but I also didn’t love.  This release just decides to not even try and come up with a more up-to-date mode, so he once again turns into a cassette player.  The new torso has been designed to help facilitate this change more fully, and ultimately his transformation scheme isn’t too far removed from the vintage figure.  There are a few more moving parts, and the end product’s a touch more fiddly, but it’s overall a set-up that works.  In addition to the new alt-mode, Soundwave also gets a new, much cleaner and bolder paint scheme than the Siege release.  No silver paint this time, or at least no silver paint where his basic design doesn’t call for it.  He’s got all the silver paint he’s *supposed* to have.  Soundwave is packed with the shoulder and hand cannons that were included with the Siege release, as well as is gun that folds into a staff.  Additionally, he comes with Laserbeak and Ravage packed right in this time, instead of them being separate releases.  Both figures get new decos to make them look a bit more like actual tapes (with Ravage’s being the one that really sells it), and Laserbeak also gets a new more Earth-y bird head, which I really like.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like so many Transformers before him, this figure is Max’s fault.  Well, okay, it’s mostly Hasbro’s fault, since they, you know, made it.  But Max showed me the original leaked photos, and let me know it was a Walmart exclusive, and ultimately hooked me up with this one I’m reviewing here.  I love the Siege figure, but I didn’t love his alt-mode.  This figure fixes that, and also just makes for a slightly cleaner robot mode.  I like that a lot.  I don’t know that I’d say he’s definitively better than the Siege release, but I do really like the adjustments made here.  He’s definitely a good Soundwave.