Transformers Report: Alternators Side Swipe

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Sideswipe (Transformers)

Sideswipe (Transformers) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the original toyline Sideswipe was a Lamborghini Countach. Originally Hasbro & Takara couldn’t get that license for Tracks’ actual vehicle mode so they opted for something close, the Dodge Viper, model SRT-10 according to the instructions for his Japanese counterpart, Lambor (which kind of messes up his name in Japan). Then they were able to get a license and just shoved Sideswipe into this car, which would later be retooled for his brother Sunstreaker and the Decepticon Dead End. Also for some reason the name is written as two words, “Side Swipe”. I’m guessing that’s a license issue too. Sideswipe is one of the first group of Autobots so it makes sense that he would get a toy, although how one from the second group got one first I couldn’t tell you. Oddly this is the second Alternators figure released, and you’d think that considering how long they had to take in order to get such intricate figures out there they would start with the more popular characters first. Instead Alternators went backwards.

I also did something different with the photos. Instead of the photo box I opted to use those Block City toys to build a sort of warehouse inspired backdrop. I was inspired by some toy review videos who use “chain base” backgrounds but I can’t afford that and I can build things of my own. This is sort of a prototype design, not the final version, so advice is welcome. I think I need a more stable base so I don’t get the huge cracks when putting it together, so that one I noticed. I also want a second set of windows in the next design. With that, let’s get on with the review.



Transformers Report: Alternators Smokescreen

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Mikko Hirvonen driving his Subaru Impreza WRC ...

Mikko Hirvonen driving his Subaru Impreza WRC during the shakedown of the 2004 Cyprus Rally. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back during my review of Alternity Bumblebee I mentioned the Binaltech/Alternators line. This toyline was intended for collectors to the point that they resemble model toy cars from their size to real working doors and molded interiors. However, the line wasn’t as popular as Takara and Hasbro wanted, plus there were licensing issues, including two different branches of Honda disagreeing about whether or not they wanted their representative carrying weapons (Honda US didn’t like it, Honda Japan didn’t mind). Ultimately the line failed. Japan’s Binaltech had a storyline that continued into Alternity but Alternators had no such story. Alternity probably wasn’t launched in the US and elsewhere after the hassles of Alternators.

One interesting choice is the character chosen for the first toy, Smokescreen. While he had his fans, appearing in later early G1 as the third repaint of Prowl and Bluestreak, he doesn’t carry the impact of those other two. That doesn’t make him a good or bad toy so let’s look at this thing.


Transformers Report: Masterpiece Optimus Prime

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Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Optimus Prime is a name any toy fan should know by now. He has versions and namesakes all throughout the Transformers multiverse. Every generation has their own Optimus Prime. But for 80s kids the original is still the one they think of, to the point that Peter Cullen, the voice from the cartoon, still gets called upon to give the character a voice.

For the 20th anniversary of the Transformers toyline Takara produced a special edition of Optimus, redesigned to more closely match the cartoon. Floro Dery, who did the design work for the original cartoon, didn’t stick too closely to the look of the toys. Some are really different (like Ratchet and Ironhide) while others (Reflector comes to mind) bears little if any resemblance to the toy they were selling. (Lucky Reflector was a mail-in offer.)  It was this version that the Masterpiece figure was meant to represent, and kicked off the Masterpiece line. Since there’s so much to talk about with this figure let’s get on with it.


Toy Report: Block City

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I know I said Transformers were up next but since this was uncovered during the recent organizing project and I have plans for using them (I won’t say what in case it doesn’t work) I thought I would take a quick look at this set. Block City was a building block set that was introduced in the 1950s. In my admittedly short research I kept getting told the toyline ended in the 1960s and yet I remember getting these in the 1980s, late 1970s at best. So either my parents gave me one of their old toys for Christmas or they happened to find a store with leftovers.

With the success of LEGO and Lincoln Logs among other building toys a number of toymakers try to come up with their own building block sets. Some of them use licenses, like LEGO and Mega Blocks while other just hope parents won’t know any better or enthusiasts will want to try something new. Block City went through a few different owners in its time. My set was produced by Block City Incorporated out of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. (One of the previous creators also was out of Kentucky.) The original creators appears to be the Tri-State Plastic Molding Company, later distributed by the Chicago-based Plastic Block City Incorporated. The early sets came in tubes and boxes with names like “The New Yorker” and “The Chicagoan” (whether they were named after cities or magazines I wouldn’t know) and later less famous names like “Rolling Hills” and “Suburban”.  Here’s a good site to look into the history. By my time we just get numbers based on how many pieces came with the set, so mine is in a reusable pail simply dubbed “B-680”.


Comic Re-Integration Finale + Bonus Projects

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There’s nothing more satisfying than a completed project, especially a big one that needed four weeks to complete. But complete it is. I wanted to sort my comics so they flow in a better order to properly go through them all, and I succeeded. I ended up finishing before the week was out so I took on some smaller project that I could only do once the comic re-integration project was complete. Let me take you on a short journey through my week and all I accomplished.


Christmas Tree 2017

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I forgot to post these. This year the Autobots from the loose Transformers reviews plus the Mini-Con Assault Team helped decorate.

I just need to figure out what I’m doing with this area after Christmas. Do I put that comic stack back there until I can get the next phase of the comic organizing project done or put something else there and leave the comics where they are until said phase occurs.

Other Transformers in the display:

I didn’t have room to add the Decepticons reviewed.

Transformers Report: Cybertron Brakedown

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Megatron races Override

Megatron races Override (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s time for the last of loose ones that were in this pile, and just in time to set up my Transformers for the annual Christmas display. This one also comes from the Transformers Cybertron line.

Velocitron, the Speed Planet, is a culture that revolves around racing. Even the monster truck is built for speed. They love to race around all day, and the leader is chose by who wins the race. It also feels like all the Autobots have that annoying gimmick that Hardtop had, where the key unlocks a weapon that’s part of something they carry, but it’s worse because without the Cyber Key in use it’s just some box they’re carrying or some other bonus part rather than popping a new weapon out of their structure like the Decepticons. Except for Hot Shot but his Cyber Key power is just two fins that help with aerodynamics or something. Of all the Cyber Key gimmicks the Speed Planet Autobots have the weakest.

And that holds true for Brakedown, the wise old racer who trains the excitable young Clocker and first befriends the Autobot envoy. His toy is…kind of mixed. I’ve kind of gone back and forth whether or not I want to keep this one but I have come to a decision. First we need to give him a proper examination.


Transformers Report: Cybertron Brimstone

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Brimstone (Transformers)

Brimstone (Transformers) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Transformers Cyberton’s story, four colony ships carrying the “Cyber Planet Keys”, each needed to unlock the power of Primus, had lost contact long before the war. Each planet represents a different culture. The Speed Planet (Velocitron) was fond of racing. The Giant Planet (Gigantion) is all about building. The Jungle Planet (Animatron according to the Transformers wiki but that’s the first I’ve heard it called that) took on beast forms and personalities. Another ship was headed for Earth in the pre-human days but ended up crashing.

Hailing from the Jungle Planet, Brimstone is one of Scourge’s lackeys. I don’t know how a robot on an alien planet turns into a pteranodon but that goes for all the beast modes resembling Earth animals. Brimstone and the rest of Scourge’s group would later join the Decepticon cause. Now you know his story, let’s look at his toy.


Transformers Report: Cybertron Hardtop

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Principal cast from Transformers: Cybertron.

Principal cast from Transformers: Cybertron. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During my time collecting Transformers I had this thing about collecting all show characters and whatever I thought was cool. However, I started collecting around late Beast Wars, when only a handful of toys were getting characters. Now the whole line gets represented while some of the show figures I didn’t care for. So it dropped to whatever I thought looked cool unless I was really into the character…which led to the Bumblebee Shelf of course. This started around the time of the “Unicron Trilogy”.

Hardtop is a Decepticon from the tail end of that group of Transformers line, Transformers Cybertron (known as Galaxy Force in Japan). The gimmick of this line was that each Transformer could call upon a “Cyber Key” to enhance their form, a semi-return to the Mini-Cons, only instead of Powerlinking to a fellow Transformer or Mini-Con you had this giant key shoved in your back to get an extra set of missile launchers or something. From a story perspective I found it kind of weak but from a play perspective the gimmicks worked better but Mini-Cons were more fun since they did something when not connected to a larger Transformers, as opposed to the Keys that sat there waiting to get lost. Luckily any key could unlock the gimmick.

There were five planets involved: Cybertron, Earth, and three Cybertronian colonies we’ll meet in later reviews. Hardtop is from Earth, and he has the Earth Cyber Key. There was also a code in the Hasbro series (not seen in Takara’s Japanese run) on the keys that would unlock bonus bios on Hasbro’s Transformers site, but you can only read those in fan site now. The question is how does he fair as a toy?


Transformers Report: Power Core Combiners Searchlight & Backwind

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I’ve noted in the past that I like Combiners. I blame that on growing up with Voltron and Mighty Orbots (anyone remember that show?) as well as seeing the Combiners in the original Transformers cartoon. So you’d think a line of Combiners would get me excited. It really depends on how good the Combiners are. The most recent line, Combiner Wars, was hit or miss with me depending on the figure. Some “cores” ended up with odd proportions in torso mode and the combination is usually clean but not always. There are still some groups I really want though.

But this is not the first time there has been a combination gimmick line. Energon had a two-robot combination feature among the Autobots, but I’m referring to Power Core Combiners, a line in which the “core” led not a group of other Transformers to combine with but non-robot mode drones that would “automorph” into the arms or legs (depending on the drone) to form a larger version of the core. That’s not really what I’m looking for in a Combiner team. I like having five or more robots that combine into one and have their own alternate modes. If you want to know more about them, this episode of Plastic Addict explains the many flaws this line had.

One of the gimmicks was having a core released not with the drones but a Mini-Con partner. And we all know my love of Mini-Cons by now. The team I picked up was the Autobot Searchlight and Mini-Con Backwind. While the duo have been released as part of store promotional sets these toys come from their stand-alone two-pack since I never owned any of the drones or other “Commanders” from the series. This is my lone appearance from Power Core Combiners. So how does this team-up work out?


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