Thursday, December 21, 2017

End of Year Haul '17

Rational me: "I should round up Titans Return and get Trypticon before getting POTP figures..."

Impulsive me seeing POTP on the shelves:


Fans have always wanted combining Dinobots team - i don't really care for that - but POTP Grimlock looks great in robot mode, very faithful to the G1 version. I don't even mind his derpy t-rex mode, just wished they gave him bigger toes.


Slag isn't very imposing at this scale. Swoop turned out VERY nice.


I know this version looks like a playskool toy (oversized feet, forearms look like mitts) and the robot mode is obvious in jet mode, but i really like it. The chunky proportions reminds me of Don Figueora's concept art.


Jazz is just okay, i guess. Love the colors on Dreadwind, and this is my 1st experience with Combiner Wars jet mold.


These guys are supposed to be Prime, uh, Masters or something. Screw that noise, i'm just happy we get itty bitty humanoid shells.


I was surprised by how much i like this mold - just never cared for the airliner/tanker alt modes - but the transformation is engaging and fun robot mode. Almost makes me want to get the Optimus version of this mold.

Also got this 6" Spidey figure from Hasbro (Marvel Legends - Space Venom BAF wave). There's been a few version of this guy but its so hard to find the regular version at regular retail. I missed out on the previous version with the interchangeable head so even though this one only has interchangeable hands and no accessories i grabbed it with the quickness.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Titans Return: Recent Haul, Sept. '17

Huge dump post to cover recent purchases:


I've had to bite my lip everytime i come across shelfwarming Voyager Megatron - who shares the same mold - so i was glad to finally find Blitzwing in the wild: COME ON DOWN, AUTOBRAT

Great robot mode, straightforward update of the G1 version. Both alt modes are serviceable, with jet mold having a slight edge - tank kibble is less obvious in jet mode while the rear carapace of the tank gives away the jet mode's wings.


I still want to get the official version so this knockoff is just to tide me over till the proper cam-dinging grill-cracking things turn up at retail. I was initially sceptical because they straight up ripped off the official design, with tweaks to the color scheme. Solid construction but the plastic isn't as kid friendly as Hasbro's - still pretty robust though.


I was going to get the most recent Legion Class version but the shop i went to had this guy on the same shelf and i went home with the 3P version instead. Its pricier than the official, but its more accurate (or slavish, depending on your attitude towards 3P) to the G1 design and with more frills compared to the official - specifically, interchangeable alternative hands.


I was looking forward to this guy despite not being a popular character. He hardly appeared in either comic nor cartoon - same goes for versions of him in previous toylines. He's arguably the least popular amongst the six G1 triple changers. So its always nice when Hasbro shines some light on 3rd stringers.

The robot mode has a nice bulk and heft to it, suggesting Broadside as a 'heavy'. His aircraft carrier mode is - besides being unique - pretty good for what is esentially the robot mode laid down and flattened. The jet mode is, in all honesty, pathetic - but something about this mold makes it fun to experiment with alternative modes. Broadside is not as great looking a toy as Blitzwing but he's still very fun to fiddle with.


The G1 toy was a big deal despite being a generally obscure character. Even ignoring the writing of the Masterforce cartoon i just thought the toy was great looking and reminded me of those chogokin type mecha toys, the way its so big and blocky. Back when i got the G1 toy it exceeded all expectations; this toy is a bit underwhelming, unsurprising considering how i was so hyped for it. Its mainly to do with the size: its not that its small for leader scale - its just that the original toy's size was so impressive that this version feels like a downgrade. The way its engineered also makes it feels less substantial compared to the blocky G1. The rear of the jet mode is gap-ish; the tank mode fares better in appearance but still feels hollowed out.

That said, the robot mode looks great - like he stepped out of an animation cel - and the alt modes themselves are decent overall. Its an obscure but fan fave character and for the most parts does the same thing as the old toy. Its only real fault is how it was bound to be overhyped and that the original set such a high standard to begin with.

Bonus pic!

I found some me-time to drag Generations Metroplex out of storage - never did a proper shoot of him and seeing mini Shockwave was handy i thought it'd be a good time as any to showcase Metroplex intimidating size.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Combiner Wars Devastator

It took till almost the end of Titans Return's run but i finally manned up and got it - the crown jewel of Combiner Wars: Devastator.

Devastator is actually one of my favourite TF designs, i've had several variations of the G1 version both original and knockoff. I also have the Energon and Movie version but the original design in all its inarticulated brick glory is still close to my heart. As a kid i only had 3 of the Constructicons (Scrapper, Long Haul and Hook) and i would put them together and *insert strains of world's tiniest violin* my heart would fill with emptiness at the sight of Devastator's lack of arms and left leg.

I like the Constructicons for the striking color scheme and the hodge podge nature of the combined form, and the CW version really knocks it out of the park in terms of design and most significantly - size: Devastator is HUGE.

He comes in the individual members' alt modes and the chunkiness of each vehicle is evident in suggesting how big and sturdy the combined form was going to be. Hook, Scrapper, Bonecrusher and Scavenger are practically perfect modern interpretations; Mixmaster 'i can't tell whether i'm coming or going' is wonky, with its mixing drum reverse orientation. Long Haul is THICC.

The visual effect is consistent in robot mode with Mixmaster and Long Haul deviating while the remaining four retaining accuracy: Mixmaster's drum hanging off his butt like some giant insect-like abdomen while the Long Haul is cartoonishly stocky - he's not fat, he's big boned.

Combining them is intuitive, even though adjustment has been made to make sure the joints are sturdy enough to stand the rigors of articulating an 18" tall hunk of plastic. Each joint has multiple connection points and the clickety clackiness of the ratchet joints tells you how much engineering is required to keep the figure together and not fall apart at any sudden movements.

The height and mass of Devastator and the nature of its deconnectible joints limit extreme poses but the fun is interaction with regular sized figures - with the exception of basebots, he's really a giant amongst giants. The designers have also given a cool feature where you can deploy visors over his eyes - similar to Alternator Hot Rod - so you can choose between toy/cartoon accuracy. His hands could use some extra articulation, but this seems to be a sacrifice for him being part of the mainline - i'd imagine a Masterpiece version of this toy would double the price.

I may be late to the show but the sheer size and quality of the set still makes for an exciting toy that deserves its place as the landmark figure of the modern mainline that brought back a fan favourite gimmick. The hype has died down but Devastator doesnt disappoint. MERGE FOR THE THRILL.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

RID Combiner Force Bludgeon

Transformers 'for kids' line is RID (Robots in Disguise), which latest iteration is 'Combiner Force'. The Deluxe/Warrior class does not feature combining gimmick, but it includes a fan favourite character that's hard to pass up: Bludgeon.

While he's had more recent versions - last seen in the 'Prime: Beast Hunters' line - a personal fave is the version that was released as part of the ROTF (Movie) line. While that version - in voyager scale - was nicely detailed, i've always found the toys to be more fun at deluxe scale.

While the hollow bits make the mold look cheap-ish, the robot mode is nicely design. It looks cleaner compared to the ROTF version and the block-ish proportions give it an old school vibe. I feel like the orange color looks a little pale, but its actually got nice paint apps here and there (like the silver on the feet and the purple on the, uh, robot pecs) on top of its already varied primary colors, which give you a sense that Hasbro put some effort into this toy.

Bludgeon can grip the sword/katana when its holstered to his leg. He can even hold the sword with both hands!..thanks to the shoulder being double jointed to the torso. The tank mode's twin cannon is articulated so you can deploy them in 'battle mode' or tuck them away. Its also detachable so Bludgeon can use it as a gun, but i'd rather they just fixed it in place because its rather easy to come off.

The mold features at least two design 'cheats' - the bottom part of the tank and torso look the same but actually use different parts, and the shoulders feature tank tread detailing despite forming part of the turret. Its also lazy how the fist are just left exposed in tank mode, but these are just nitpicks for an otherwise solid - if not great - deluxe/warrior class. We've seen better tank bots but samurai zombies will never be not cool.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

90's Nikes: On Court Classics

Retro sneaker heads usually have a fondness for 80's models like Air Force 1 and SB Dunk, but as 90's basketball fan that era defined the classics for me. There are more that are considered iconic, like the ones worn by Barkley and Penny, but here are the ones i really dig.


Technically its just outside of the 90's, but i'm featuring it because its a cheaper alternative which takes elements and visual cues to one of MJ's iconic shoe, the AJ4 - evident from its lacing eyelets and mid sole design.


Besides being featured in White Men Cant Jump, the debut of the Flight logo is also prominently represented on court by Scottie Pippen, a favourite player of mine.


These particular colorway is inspired by the 1996 All Star Game hosted in San Antonio, notable for MJ winning the game MVP honors after returning from retirement.


The Air Flight 96 takes design cues from the immensely popular Air Max 95 (wavy pattern of its upper), this colorway is a tribute to Allen Iverson, who was drafted in 1996.


Another shoe that Pippen wore before he got his own signatures, its a popular retro design that's even been adapted into an exclusive by Supreme.


Another shoe made iconic by featuring in a movie, Ray Allen wore this as Jesus Shuttlesworth in He Got Game.


A personal fave of mine, this shoe was repped on the court by Jason Kidd and Damon Stoudamire, the colorway above are Mighty Mouse's - Damon's nickname - PE's.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Titans Return Misfire and Twin Twist


Another G1 Targetmaster turned Headmaster, Misfire (along with Triggerhappy from the previous wave) is a member of the 4th generation of the original G1 seekers (Decepticon jets) and he really stands out. The alt mode is the most extra-terrestial looking amongst the 3 jets (Slugslinger soon to be released), the nosecone has catamaran-like twin pontoons and the wings are downswept - not as odd as Scourge's flying soap bar but certainly nicer looking.

And in case he's not unconventional enough Hasbro even gave the character a garish purplish pink color - fuschia? magenta? Whatever you want to call the color, he's faaaaabulooooous. Robot mode shares a number of parts with Triggerhappy but between the remold and striking colors he really feels like an entirely new toy.


Twin Twist finally gets a proper toy! A G1 Jumpstarter, he and his brother Topspin feature the pullback transforming gimmick early in the original line (the gimmick would appear again later with Decepticon Battle Chargers and Throttlebots). The character actually was done as a member of the Wrecker combiner group some time ago (repainted from FOC Combaticons) but this version is much more accurate to the G1 design.

At a glance he's kinda bland/generic looking but the robot mode is solid - literally. No hollow bits as the arms are telescopic and legs comprised of folded panels and he's huge for a deluxe. I don't really care for the drill tank mode but seeing how this figure is really well done makes me look forward to Topspin - who i've always preferred for his cruiser alt mode.

Friday, June 16, 2017

2017 Lego Star Wars Scout Trooper and Speeder Bike

This is the most anticipated toy i've been looking forward to this year. The speeder bike chase is the best thing to come out of ROTJ - by all accounts, the biker scout is the most competent of the Imperial's troopers, unless confronted by their only weakness: Ewoks.

I've been looking out for a new version of the speeder bike, the last time i bought its toy version is practically a decade ago (Hasbro's Galactic Heroes). Before that, i had the 3-3/4" Clone Wars version, which was terrible - the front outrigger posts were made of bendy plastic and deformed if you didn't store it properly. As a kid, the vintage was one of my favourite toys, which had the gimmick where you pressed a button and the bike would 'explode'. How much do i like the speeder bike? I bought a Desert Skiff Lego set for the sole purpose of making my own speeder bike MOC.

Anyway, i've been itching to buy a new toy of the speeder bike and was eyeing the Bandai kit, which looked like a fun build. I was having trouble tracking one down, so i looked at the 6" version by Hasbro but for whatever reason i didn't pull the trigger - it's a step bigger than the 3-3/4" but i'm so burned out from that figure scale that i don't see the 6" version as significant improvement. So then i looked at Hasbro's old 12" scale toy, but then i realized i don't really collect at that scale and it'd be huge and unwieldy to display if you have limited shelf space. When the 2017 Star Wars Lego sets were announced i was stoked and knew this was purchase-on-sight.

This if my 1st experience with both Hero Factory and Technic builds - neither of which i'm a big fan of, to be frank. I just prefer the traditional bricks and studs construction. It's Lego though, so its still a fun, engaging build and its interesting how the internal structure is put together and the external shapes are formed using only existing parts and profile.

I finish the figure 1st - at 10" its slightly bigger than what i'd like, which is 8-9" scale - I'm a fan of Hasbro's Marvel Signature Series (based on the 8" scale Mego figures) a scale that i think hits the sweet spot for both playing and displaying. The figure is gappy in some areas but once you sit him on the bike its less obvious.

The bike is pretty huge at 18" long, but isn't overwhelming if you display it as a desk toy. The missile shooting gimmick makes the undercarriage blaster too bulky to be accurate. The stand is built into the toy, which also functions as the 'handle' for the missile shooting gimmick - the trigger is design so that you hold the stand and shoot the missile like a gun. The rear flaps are articulated so you can flip them up to reveal repulsors in flight mode. The only thing that looks off to me is the detailing of the front outrigger, which is a tad bulky. There's a few stickers but the only essential one is for the control panel.

Overall, it's a great piece for display. It's not detailed enough to be considered as the definitive toy of the character/vehicle, but it's Lego so you can tell non-collector friends 'oh, its a model', its sizeable without taking too much space, has a nice heft and still decently sized for you to whoosh it around the room and go PEW, PEW!

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Titans Return Hot Rod

Titans Return comes out slow here at major retailers - especially now that the new movie stuff is coming out. It took 3 restock to put out all of wave 3 (and i'm still missing the legends class) but he finally turned up on the shelves to complete 3rd wave deluxes -Titan Returns Hot Rod.

Hot Rod's bot mode is...just okay, i suppose. The torso could use a bit more bulk, and the hips on mine are loose. But he's very poseable and looks good overall. His 'wings'/spoiler could use to sit higher too, since its a prominent feature of the design.

While the bot mode is kinda meh, fortunately the car mode is GREAT. Yet another rendition of a futuristic sports car, he's curvier than the Generations version and bulkier than the Animated version but now he has a working cockpit. If you're gonna ride, ride in style.

Even the back of the car is nicely detailed (although lacking paint apps) - i like how his knees are worked into, uh, exhaust vent thingies.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Retro Gaming: Legend of Zelda

Got myself a Nintendo DS! I'm behind by more than a decade but bear with me :D

The novelty of the Famicom Mini wears out pretty quick until i found out about Hakchi2, a homebrew posted at that allows users to hack into the NES/Famicom mini and run not only NES roms, but roms of other platforms on emulation. So i've got some games from Sega Genesis (Sonic!), MAME (Super Monaco GP!) and even N64 (Mario Kart! Ridge Racer!), but relevant to this post - SNES games, specifically Zelda's Link to the Past. I had never gotten into Legend of Zelda (and adventure games in general) on the NES - as a kid i was more into shoot/beat em ups, button mashers basically - but LttP really got me hooked into Zelda's storyline and gameplay. The critics have been right in its consistent praise of the game: engaging gameplay, pretty graphics, even the music is great.

That said, the gameplay is very deep which requires hours of sitting at a time and i didn't really have that luxury to sit in front of the TV at home for hours playing it on console. Which is where the DS came into play. Came across an online article on how the DS can be made a portable retro gaming machine and it's the ideal platform for me because it allows me to play the game during commute and down time at work.

My impressions on LttP:

- Holy shit, how did y'all finish this game back in the day without guides? The solutions become apparent once you acclimate to the game's routines, but without guides some of the puzzles would take hours of continuous play to stumble on the solutions. It's a punishing game despite the cutesy design.
- I love the depth and breadth of the gameplay: exploring the overworld, solving the the dungeons, increasing complexity by introducing the dark world. You really had to explore every nook and cranny and try out every trick to squeeze out tips and hints - with modern games its a lot of hand holding and extraneous cut scenes.
- The ramping up in difficulty level is excellent - by the time you reach Ganon, the final boss, its a really rewarding feeling to beat the game's final act, feeling assured you couldn't have beat the game without the experience of all those hours you put in.

Finishing LttP, i immediately jumped into Minish Cap (purely based on how it looks) and was pleased that it gave me the same kick - its remarkable that the gap between these two games is practically a decade, yet they didn't have to improve much to update the game. Just goes to show how good LttP was. Minish Cap impressions:

- Oh man, i forget how annoying game guide characters can be. Ezlo adds an integral and fun element to the gameplay (shrinking, floating) but even in text the character's 'voice' is grating.
- This game is so pretty. Too pretty actually, because the game's bright color palette actually cause the game to lose the grittiness suggested in the LttP's more muted colors.
- The whole shrinking gimmick is pretty cool and actually stumped me in some places. I actually prefer the Minish miniature world compared to LttP's dark world.
- There's also a lot more character integration in MC with the whole kinstone fusion thing so it really creates incentive in further exploration, rather than just collecting hints and tips.

I tried out Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, which are native to the DS. I enjoy the story aspect but i think i still prefer Zelda's 2D gameplay to 3D - currently playing Link's Awakening and the Oracle games, i find them more engaging despite the simple graphics.