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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Transformers Report: Animated Jazz

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Transformers Animated is rather different from other Transformers shows. It’s probably the most light and cartoonish of the shows right down to the art style. It’s a sharp contrast to the Michael Bay films that started coming out around this time, but it still managed to bring about good characters while the Autobots took a more superhero role than the traditional defending army or current “police officer” approach. The heroes weren’t trained soldiers but a simple work crew in over their heads and trying to survive on Earth. It’s really a good show and worth checking out.

One of the later characters was the Animated version of Jazz, working not with Optimus Prime but with Ultra Magnus, this version not too sure about humans due to Cybertronians in general having a xenophobic fear of organic beings. Jazz, however, grew to see the humans as just as worth as any Transformer, and the only one of that group to respect them. It’s why I like him, but his cool persona and ninja styling helped. It was around this time that my FIRST hospital stay came about, due to inflammation and where I first learned what Crohn’s Disease was. So a friend on the Transformers newsgroup sent me a bunch of Transformers to make me feel better, and it sure helped. I couldn’t buy my usual “pity Transformer”, which in hindsight is part of the reason my collection is too big today. But where does Animated’s Jazz fit into that?

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Transformers Report: Classics Rodimus (aka Hot Rod)

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I never cared for Rodiums Prime. I won’t go into the details. This isn’t my storytelling review site, but the short version is that Hot Rod was a more interesting character before being given the Matrix Of Leadership, at least to me. So I’m always happy to see Hot Rod being given a new toy, even if Hasbro didn’t have access to the Hot Rod name and had to call him Rodimus, sans Prime. (Toy name trademarks are an odd discussion. As I write this Hasbro is suing Mattel and DC because their DC Super Hero Girls line includes a figure named Bumblebee, even though that was the name of a DC Universe superhero long before the Transformers woke up from their 4,000,000 year dirt nap in 1984.)

So when they released a Hot Rod figure in their Transformers Classics line, I had to pick one up. Cut to 2017 and the question is how do I feel about it now?

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Transformer Report: Transformers Classics Prowl

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Prowl discussing my clutter issues.

Transformers Universe Classics 2.0 Extra Cheese With A Soda…look, it’s the next release of Transformers Classics from the Optimus Prime I reviewed last week. All I know is it isn’t Reveal The Shield and that Hasbro gets confusing with the subline names at times. It’s G1 Prowl with an updated vehicle mode. That’s the important part here.

I feel sorry for Prowl. On the TV show he was part of Optimus’ command team. In the Budiansky-written G1 comics from Marvel he was the logical thinker and strategist, even leading the team for a time in Optimus’ absence. And then Simon Furman came along. If you read my other website, BW Media Spotlight, you know I have a questionable history with Furman’s Transformers stories. Some were really good, some were good in concept but not in execution, and some were just not very good at all, or at least not to my personal taste…and not very good at all. His Prowl was kind of a jerk, stuck to the rules, thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room when Furman’s pet character Grimlock always out thinks him, and IDW added in a willingness to do horrible things to protect the Autobots and Cybertron thinking it has to be the right thing. I grew up with a better Prowl when he didn’t have much of a personality.

I mean, the first toy’s tech spec catchphrase is ““Logic is the ultimate weapon.” Why is he not Shockwave’s arch rival? Being about logic is one of the universal personality traits of Shockwave!

So I picked up the updated version when it came out. How well does it hold up?

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Transformers Report: Classics Optimus Prime

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Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Transformers Classics was an attempt to bring the classic “G1” character into the modern age with updated versions of their classic alternate modes. For example, you’ve probably seen Bumblebee’s Classics form sitting on the Bumblebee shelf in the past. Instead of his classic VW Beetle form he got a more updated compact car mode, mainly due to Volkswagen not wanting to be tied to war toys. Others were given a modern model of the vehicle they were originally based on. To grab names at random, if a car had been a 1980s Ford Taurus or something, this would be a 2008 Taurus. Note that I don’t know if they even made the Ford Taurus in the 1980s. I’m just giving a hypothetical example here.

One of those toys was an update of…naturally, the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime. (And yes, they did have a Megatron but thanks to modern restrictions on toy guns they made him more like a Nerf weapon than his traditional handgun.) Originally a red flat-nosed semi, Michael Bay gave him a long-nose blue semi with flames because he thought it looked cool. But what does a proper Optimus Prime update look like?

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Dusting Day

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All together now!

Technically another quick project. After last week’s review of Alternity Bumblebee I went to prep the Bumblebee Shelf (I still really want to paint this thing yellow with some black trim) and noticed it was rather dusty. So this week I dusted it prior to resetting the Shelf to bring in the new Bumblebee. (This is an old picture. He’s not there.) And since I dusted that I thought I would dust my whole bedroom, because it needed it. It’s sad how much dust was on the Zoids alone. I think I did dust since last year’s hospital stays but it still built up. I also know I dusted in the studio during an earlier organizing project but it could use a light dusting as well.

It also reminds me how badly I need to go through my old Transformers, since I have so many stacked in boxes that (a) I can’t reach part of my non-Bumblebee shelves and get to stuff even to dust them, and (b) what’s the sense of collecting things if they’re going to stay in a plastic tub where nobody will see them because the spot you’d set them up to pose is cluttered but you can’t do anything about it? Even the Bumblebee Shelf is starting to get crowded and there are a few Bumblebees I’d still like to get, like Masterpiece and something representing the current incarnation of Robots In Disguise. Plus there’s a version for Titans Return that looks pretty cool and they didn’t make him a “Titanmaster” (formerly Headmaster, of which not every character has to be–no love for Targetmasters?) which makes him even better for this line.

I did manage to sell off my Marvel Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comics and learned a few things about PayPal, like there are fees, as well as double-checking the price of comics. They could go for a lot more than I sold them for, but there were various reasons why I took the hit and I’m not sorry. Unless he ends up selling them himself, but it’s still a lesson learned when it comes to my other comics to not just look at price guide sites and see what they’re actually going for. An important lesson although with my luck the other comics I’m getting rid of won’t be worth as much as those. I have that kind of luck.

Transformers Report: Alternity Bumble(bee)

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The original Bumblebee from the “G1” era of Transformers was called simply Bumble in Japan for reasons I am not aware of. So while technically this is a Japan exclusive figure I’m going to stick with Bumblebee because that’s the name I know and love. You may recall I have a whole shelf dedicated to this character and a few namesakes. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that another one was in my birthday Amazon wish list.

The history of Takara Tomy’s Alternity is tough to go into full detail for so I’ll give you the highlights. Did you ever hear of the Alternators line? It was a series of scaled vehicles that looked like model cars right down to being licensed with an engineering style that led to crazy hard transformations. I own a few and frankly wasn’t a fan because they’re such pains to transform. I know there are collectors who enjoy these puzzle style transformations but I prefer a smooth, fun transformation. In Japan the line was called “Binaltech” and the instructions actually came with chapters of a text adventure whose story isn’t important here. Alternity is a sequel line right down to the engineering and story, but the toys were given a smaller scale and the story a larger one, involving alternate universes, and Bumblebee getting cool dimension-altering powers. To say more would bore the casuals so let’s move on.

To be honest this toy is rather pricey but it’s partly die-cast, highly engineered (more so than Transformers figures usually are), has a lot of parts put together, features licensed vehicles, and is a canceled Japan-exclusive toyline. That last part dropped the price to something slightly more reasonable than you’d pay for it previously here in the US. So let’s take a look at the toy.

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Transformer Report: RID 1 Megatron (Car Robots Devil Gigatron)

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It’s time for the last of the leadership from the original Robots In Disguise Transformers line. (I didn’t get Sky-Byte because, fun as the character is, I hated the Transmetal II Cybershark figure from Beast Wars whose mold Car Robots used for his counterpart, Gelshark. Instead we’re looking at Gigatron, or rather his Hasbro incarnation, the third character to be called Megatron (the first outside of G1 continuity and no I don’t care what controversies are going on in the fandom–I read it and it doesn’t matter to this discussion so don’t bother!).

What separates this Megatron apart is that he has multiple modes. In addition to robot mode he has numerous modes added in, and because Hasbro used the later “Devil Gigatron” mold (saved time using the same mode for both Megatron and his suped-up “Galvatron” state) this figure can do those extra modes as well. Because apparently six modes wasn’t enough. While they were left out of the Megatron instructions a scan for the Galvatron instructions reveals the other modes and how to form them. So while I will spend time on the robot mode, I’m going to breeze through the alt modes or you’ll be here all day. I, however, WILL be here all day because I have to transform and photograph all those modes.

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Transformer Report: RID 1 Scourge

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Scourge (Transformers)

Scourge (Transformers) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For whatever reason Takara loved making evil versions of Optimus Prime around the time of Car Robots. So we got Black Convoy, who in-story was an Autobot protoform (ask a Transformers fans) who was merged with Gigatron’s spark and Fire Convoy’s design. The toy was actually a redeco of Optimus Prime…from the Generation Two line. Laser Optimus Prime had a light-up gimmick removed from Black Convoy as well as Scourge, the name used for the original Robots In Disguise line by Hasbro. For whatever reason, Scourge was a Toys R Us exclusive figure because none of the other stores wanted to sell him if memory serves. He’s an evil Optimus Prime from when G2 started to finally improve on Transformer articulation, so I don’t understand why. Especially since they did sell the Decepticon combiner team that was redecos of old Generation ONE figures with terrible articulation. I mean, what the heck guys?

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Transformer Report: Robots In Disguise 1 Ultra Magnus

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'Car Carrier' Truck Mode

‘Car Carrier’ Truck Mode of the original Ultra Magnus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I did the last Transformer report to do this one.

Let me clear up one thing right now before some angry Transformers/anime fan comes barging through the comments. NO, Robots In Disguise (1) Ultra Magnus did not get his name changed from his Car Robots non de plume, God Magnus, because they didn’t want to “upset Christians”. Please stop blaming us for changes in symbols and naming styles we were never even asked about or even care about. It was changed because a) the culture in the US and other Western countries, where the concept of a “god” in fiction is more powerful than it is in Japan (“people do what I say and I shoot a fancy laser beam, so I must be a god”–I think Goku is the first one who came close to the Western “god” concept in any anime I’ve ever watched), is different and calling a character “god” wouldn’t fly as well in a Western market and b) Hasbro wanted to keep “Ultra Magnus”, one of their famous G1 character names, under their copyright while reaching out to collectors who don’t follow what’s going on in Japan, or didn’t at the time. Why do you think Fire Convoy was renamed Optimus Prime for the first Robots In Disguise? They thought truckers didn’t want to think about their rigs being on fire?

That rant out of the way, Ultra God Magnus’s big toy-related gimmick is that he’s a replacement for Fire Optimus Convoy Prime’s usual armor. In the show he’s the jealous brother who thinks he should have been given the Matrix because he’s that awesome and is a huge jerk for most of his appearances. You know why you’re not Prime, Maggie? BECAUSE YOU ACT MORE LIKE A DECEPTICON! Anyway, back to his gimmick, because a good gimmick can help or hurt a toy, at least as a display piece if not as a play toy. Ultra Magnus works as a play toy. As a display piece, however, he has some huge problems and one of them even messes with his play status.

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