Transformers Report: Quick Change’s Knockoff Aerialbots

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In the original Transformers toyline the Aerialbots was the first Combiner team for the Autobots, an attempt to counter the Decepticons’ Constructicons while said Decepticons were also working on their own ground-based team. Most Autobots by this point were based on cars and that left the heroes with little air support against the mostly flying vehicle villains. So their first team were aircraft. The toys use a style of combining fans refer to as “Scramble City”, based on a Japanese special that showcased the Combiners for a “Scramble City” subline (the US didn’t start using sublines for a long time…even the Headmasters and Targetmasters were considered part of the same line, just a different gimmick.)

I never had the Aerialbots as a kid so when I came across the Quick Change Robot Fighter knockoffs as an adult collector. As usual this series is hard to research but with a different group of knockoff robot aircraft from this company I couldn’t even tell you what the name of this group is. But that won’t stop me from reviewing it.

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Transforming Toy Report: Quick Change Toolbot

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Here’s another one in my early obsession with combiner teams from the knockoff series Quick Change Robot Fighter. This time it’s the Toolbot set, a series of tools that turn into robots and combine into a larger robot. I’ve seen these packed in sets like this. one just on a flimsy card, and individually. I’m pretty sure mine came in a package like the one above because I don’t remember seeing them on the card. This is also one I reviewed back in the alt.toys.transformers days but since I plan to basically plagiarize from myself (at least I’m honest about it and it’s from my own previous review) due to time (six robots that in the original review I grouped based on sharing transformations and similar alternate modes) and the fact that my opinions are pretty much the same, all you’re getting here is updated information, photos, hopefully less typos, and me not going on about a sneaker hunt or discussing sets I have yet to review for The Clutter Reports.

A few things I want to note before heading into this. If you have a habit of losing accessories, or your pets/kids eat them all, avoid this set, or at least this version, as the carded one I saw during research seems to lack individual weapons. This thing has more bits and pieces, including two I can’t see even being usable, than some entire lines in my collection, and that’s counting missiles separate from launchers! These guys are part re-configures and part reassemble. Thrown into the mix are swords, one for each one, and only a couple of them are obviously meant for a certain tool bot. Also, I’ll be reviewing these guys in teams, not just to save time, but because each limb transforms exactly the same ways. The two bodies, plus the two arms and two legs have their own style. Finally, because Quick Change didn’t come up with their bad renames, like the Animal Robot set, it’s up to me to give them something to put on their driver’s licenses.

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Toy Report: Quick Change Animal Robot

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I said last week I’d be reviewing this set this week and now it’s time. Quick Change (sometimes adding “changeable robot” or “transforming system” to the name) is a line of knockoffs of transforming robot toys from numerous lines and creators. There really isn’t a unifying theme because of how many toy lines they rip off. Some come from Transformers, some from Machine Robo (the line where the GoBots originally came from), some from Sentai/Power Rangers shows, and others I can’t even identify. I heard somewhere that this set I’m about to review came from the Brave franchise in Japan with the arm robot replaced but I haven’t confirmed that.

In addition to individual robots you can also find sets, both combining robot groups like the Animal Robot series I’ll be reviewing today and non-combining robots. You usually find them in pharmacy toy sections or closeout stores. I picked this one up from a store called Big Lots. I enjoy a good Combiner team but is this one? One thing I’ll note now that the names are terrible, and I came up my own renames of the figures the last time I reviewed them, for the newsgroup alt.toys.transformers. I’ll also be combining the robot and animal mode pictures to speed this up and to get a little artistic with them just for fun and practice. And so on with the review!

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Cluttered Schedule Week

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Sorry, folks but while I was able to get the photos ready to do another review this week I didn’t have time to write it. And it’s going to be a big one since I’m reviewing four robots and their combined form. Above is the teaser to next week’s review. I want to do it right, and not rush it through. It’s just that I have places to go for half the week and didn’t have time to write a good article. You’ll get it next week though.

I was hoping not to miss another week but I’m up against time. Hopefully it will be worth it.

Transformers Report: Alternators Wheeljack

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Wheeljack

Wheeljack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s time for the third and last of the Alternators. Wheeljack is the Autobots’ inventor. And he’s good at his job if the machine doesn’t blow up or something. Basically he’s a mad scientist for the forces of good. His original vehicle mode in the G1 days was based on the Lancia Stratos Turbo‘s “Group 5 Statos” race car. No, I don’t know what that means outside of knowing what a race car is.

It won’t be obvious why until the very end of the review but this was the last Alternator I ever picked up. This was the figure where I decided that this line just wasn’t making me happy, which is odd considering this is not the one I’ll be taking out of my collection. That part will be immediately obvious.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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