Transformers Report: Universe King Atlas

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This is the last and biggest of my Transformers Universe figures but not the last one in the box. I’ll explain when I get to the last two of this review set. King Atlas has some interesting history attached, but I’ll summarize for those of you not really into Transformer history. The links in the next paragraph go to the Transformers wiki if you want to know more.

King Atlas is the second recolor of G1 UK exclusive Decepticon Skyquake, later redone for the US KB Toy Works exclusive Machine Wars line as a new body for Starscream, which means this is the only Autobot version of the mold. I never had the figures from either of these groupings. The name comes from the Japanese exclusive character Dai Atlas from Transformers Zone but while intended to be the US version of that character the Universe line came out with no bios (tech specs were pretty much gone by this point due to international packaging holding English, Spanish, and French text) and the convention comics made him a new character for the Transformers Universe comics. As for the toy itself, there’s a lot to go over but it’s all in vehicle mode.

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Transformers Report: Universe Skywarp

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This year I had the Transformers Universe figures I’m keeping around the tree, but there are a few left I haven’t reviewed. We’ll be returning to the project/review formula next week but this toy’s been sitting here a few weeks waiting to be reviewed, and it’s time to do that. As a reminder, Transformers Universe was originally a series of recolored molds of the past, some being the same character and some being a new character. The plot was that a version of Unicron dragged Transformers from across the multiverse to fight each other because he fed off of the fighting…somehow. I don’t get it either, but it did allow some of us to get molds we didn’t have before since they were exclusive to other countries.

This isn’t the case for Skywarp, however. This Skywarp uses the mold of Jetstorm from the Beast Machines line, another reminder I should have gone through that box first. The mold would be used for other figures as well but these two are the only versions I picked up. This one is a Decepticon, the only other one I have in the Universe line besides the Micromaster Construction Combiners. I’ll review Jetstorm in the future, so let’s look at Skywarp.

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Transformers Report: Universe (1.0) Inferno

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I think I’m done with team reviews for this line. Inferno came alone. He was intended to be a Universe incarnation of the G1 character Red Alert but someone screwed up the name with his old pal Inferno, who was a fire truck while Red Alert was a fire chief’s car. (I thought the chief went with the other firefighters but I only know firefighters, I wasn’t one myself.) The good was caught too late and so the Red Alert homage got Inferno’s name. The Universe 2.0 line would bring about a proper update for Inferno.

However, the 1.0 line was all reissues and recolors and redecos, and this Inferno is no different. The original mold was the Prowl of Robots In Disguise (the one based on Mach Alert from the Car Robots toyline and TV show). Prowl’s brother, X-Brawn, received a Ratchet recolor and both figures were give a subline name, Machine Robot Rescue, which was a jerk move on Hasbro’s part. For the initiated Tonka, the company that produced the 80s rival transforming robot line GoBots, got most of their figures from a line in Japan called Machine Robo. Hasbro later bought Tonka but by then the company that created Machine Robo, BanDai, had started releasing toys in the US, and had brought some of their Machine Robo characters into a new line called Machine Robo Rescue, so we’re all pretty sure this was just another attempt by Hasbro to keep their old rivals from ever returning to the US toy shelves, although there was no evidence BanDai planned to anyway. DinoZaurs didn’t do very well for them after all. But enough history, let’s get into Inferno.

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Transformers Report: Universe Stockade & Magna Stampede (with Mini-Cons)

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Sorry for the washed out images. Sadly I goofed in editing.

Our next set of Transformers Universe figures were sold together so that’s how I’ll be reviewing them, if only to move things along. They share an instruction sheet, which is how I know they came together. And yes, it’s another set including Mini-Cons with figures who can’t use Mini-Cons. As you’ll see it’s worse this time though.

I’m not sure why these four were sold together. There’s no connecting theme. At least Whirl’s Mini-Con pals were some kind of aircraft. Magna Stampede and Stockade are original characters based on molds from the Beast Machines line while Terradive and Prowl weren’t even on the same Mini-Con team, yet share a feature their friends are unable to use. I get the feeling the Mini-Cons of this group are pretending to be Micromasters to not be used as power boosters in the Universe arena, like it’s their chance to just be seen as any other Transformer. At least that’s the canon in my head since Universe is about dragging Transformers from across the multiverse. I’m going to limit photos to robot and alt mode and will give my thoughts individually. Of course we know the Mini-Cons are safe but what about the other two?

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Transformers Report: Universe Micromaster Constructicons

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There were only four teams in the Universe Micromaster Combiners, but I would have loved to have gotten other Japan-exclusive molds in a US line. The “Multiforce” (which actually had been released with Japan’s counterparts to the Universe Micromasters around this time and could themselves combine into a larger robot of all six members) had two robots that combined into one, similar to the Autobot gimmick of the Energon line. They could have also released the G1 US Micromasters where the vehicles could combine to form more vehicles. By the time Micromasters came out in the original like I was too old for my parents to buy me Transformer toys and I didn’t have a job because…let’s just say I had bullies and leave it at that for this site. These four teams are as of this writing the only Micromasters I own. I still think Mini-Cons are cooler but my love of Mini-Cons does at least allow me to enjoy these predecessors even if they can’t combine with the larger robots.

Although the ones who form arms and legs can fake it thanks to the connectors being the same size as the Powerlink ports on the “Unicron Trilogy” figures and the rifles of these last three teams can be used by the Mini-Cons by connecting them to the plugs on the Mini-Cons. (The Railbots have other ways of interacting with Mini-Cons since they’re a different design, but the Aerialbot and Protectobot Micromasters share this and they all can swap an arm of their combined forms out with a Mini-Con who would be rather unuseful). Today we’re looking at the last of the Combiner team in the Universe line, the Constructicons. Named after and inspired by the G1 characters they’re the only Decepticons of the Micromasters in this line. Their parent characters, Sixbuilder and the Build Team, were actually Autobots who had a Decepticon clone. Don’t ask me how. I don’t think their story made a lot of sense. Luckily we’re here to talk about the toys, and I can see why they went with the G1 homage, although they didn’t keep all the names. Considering how many I change anyway I can live with that.

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Transformers Report: Universe Micromaster Protectobots

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Since I’m going back and forth between further going through the Transformers Universe (1.0) figures and other clutter organizing project I’m going to zip through the Micromaster Combiners. This is the last of our Autobots, originally seeing life in Japan as Sixturbo before ending up at KB in America as the Protectobots, an homage to my favorite G1 Combiner team. However, this version really only has three rescue vehicles, the other three being a race car, a sports car, and a cruising motorcycle. It makes for an odd choice for an homage but since the others were homages or namesakes I guess it fits. It’s really just a reason to use names for copyright purposes when you get down to it.

I’m going to be a bit off with the usual renames in the captions. This was the first released set in the Universe line and I only wrote the names on the card back I kept rather than the instructions. Over time the ink has faded a bit. However, some of the names were such odd choices for an homage that they may be the most justified name changes I did for these little guys. Apparently Sears was also carrying them for their Christmas only toy shelves (remember when they did that for Christmas and had barely anything the rest of the year?) while being available in Europe under the Energon banner. So how does this set fare?

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Transformers Report: Universe Micromaster Aerialbots

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Returning to the Micromaster Combiners from the Transformers Universe line we have the Aerialbots. Personally I go with “Skybots” since these aren’t the classic Aerialbots (mine are actually a knockoff so I still in a way have them) and since one of them is actually a space shuttle I’m surprisingly limited in team renames. Plus those characters will show up again and I still wanted to flex my Transformer name-making skills. I have a bunch left but the next choice was given to me right quickly when I saw that these guys were on the list of the Gold Plastic Syndrome I mentioned last week in the Snarl review. Specifically the gun, lower body, and for some reason the hands were made of the same plastic with areas painted white. Why the arms weren’t molded with the feet I really don’t know. I wasn’t there. So I wanted to make sure I reviewed this in case it was a GPS sufferer. Instead we have a tight joint issue on some of these and since I don’t know if Beast Machine Snarl’s damage came from tightness, GPS, or a bit of both I wanted to go over this one while I still had it in one piece. The TF Wiki claims it was the last figure thus far to have this kind of plastic and I hope that remains the case if these are turning to powder.

So…toy history. From the “Operation Combination” line of (formerly) Japanese-exclusive Transformers, this mold began life as Sixwing, a six-team Combiner that has been both Decepticon and Autobot. Given that there is only one Decepticon among the Micromaster Combiners in Universe I wonder if they should have gone with the former. Sure they end up still shorter than the Deluxe class of the time but more enemies to fight is good for bedroom battles. In Europe these weren’t released under the Universe title but Cybertron despite lacking cyber-keys, so for any international readers (I’m sure clutter organizing is universal) there’s your confusion. Here in the US these were KB Toys exclusives but soon ended up in CVS and Big Lots and I think that’s how I got mine.

Oh look, a shorter backstory than the Universe reviews have had thus far. Let’s get to the review!

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Transformers Report: Snarl–Beast Machines Versus Universe

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Art of Universe Snarl by Dan Khanna, published in an issue of Universe.

I’m not going to go into the full backstory of the Beast Machines line. I’ll save that for when I get to those actual toys. The short version is the Maximals of the Beast Wars line are now technorganic and fighting Megatron’s drone-like Vehicons on a conquered Cybertron. The technorganic designs were intended to be a mix of organic and technological designs and thanks to the cartoon I see their transformations a bit differently that I do the usual Transformer transformation, but how much of that is due to the design I can’t say.

Snarl was never featured in the cartoon and his part in comics is a bit sparse. However, when I first saw the original Beast Machines version I picked him up and very much enjoyed him. Back when I had more money and room than sense I picked up recolor from the Universe line, also called Snarl, because I liked the mold that much. Since then my collection has gotten huge to the point of not being fun which is why I do these sets of Transformers Reports. The question is whether or not I’ll have two Snarls, just one, or none at all.

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Transformers Report: Universe Micromaster Railbots

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And here’s another one with a backstory. I’ll try to keep this one brief too.

In the latter days of the original toyline (known as G1) another line of toys were making a huge splash on the scene. Micro Machines started a new craze of really small cars that you could carry easier in your pocket, and may arguably be responsible for the micro-playsets that started up not soon after. I admittedly haven’t done the research so call that a theory. Wanting to get in on that craze like they did the other toy cars, the Transformers creators introduced the idea of Micromasters, smaller Transformers that also came with bases, could in some cases link together to form new vehicles, but mainly worked in teams based around a central theme. In many ways they’re the precursor to the Mini-Cons. They’re even about the same size.

After Hasbro stopped making Transformers in the US for a time their Japanese partners at Takara kept going. This included a group of Micromasters that adopted the longtime Transformer gimmick (the longest obviously being transforming) of combination. The result was Sixliner, introduced in the Battlestars series and the connected manga. This would be remade into Sixtrain, which would be recolored in 2003, which is the version used in the Universe line we discussed last week to create this week’s subject, the Railbots. The Railbots were the third in a group of Micromaster Combiners brought out for the Universe line according to the Transformers fanwiki, and I’ll be going back and forth in this set of reviews between the larger robots and the Micromaster Combiners.

This line came out so close to the first Robots In Disguise line of the early 2000s but were used to hold on to some of the names Hasbro thought they might want to use again. Since there was already a “Rail Racer” so close to the last one I gave him and his components all new names. I will be showing off my cleverness (or lack thereof, you be the judge) but otherwise I will use their official names for the review. With all that out of the way, let’s get on with it. Since it’s a Combiner team I have a lot of toys to show off before the review gets boring.

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Transformers Report: Autobot Whirl & His Mini-Con Friends

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(l to r) Gunbarrel, Whirl, & Makeshift

Okay, there are a few different backstories to go over here so I’ll summarize as much as I can. Transformers Universe 1.0 was a line of repaints and redecos of fan favorite molds from the past and molds that never made it to the US until this line, or did so in limited release. The “plot” was that a version of Unicron dragged Transformers from across the multiverse to fight for his amusement. The comics added in him feeding off of the battle…somehow. It didn’t make any more sense to me in Armada, frankly.

One of the lines tapped was from the UK. While the original line ended in the US, the UK continued making figures and comics along different lines from what Japan was still doing. (I don’t think a year has past since their debut that Transformers never had at least one official toyline and media in at least one country on Earth.) They created their own teams, each with their own gimmick. Some of them did make it to the US as the KB Toy Works exclusive Machine Wars figures. The ones we care about in this review are the Turbomasters, The gimmick for the toys was that the engine could transform into their weapon. Considering the fact that mounted and hidden weaponry are rather normal these days that might not stand out as much but back then the weapons were just set aside in vehicle mode more often than not, so I guess the idea of integrated weapons starts here.

Finally we get to the figures for this review. Whirl (I’m not even going to try to go into that history here and it might not be the same guy) is an Autobot from the 2004 period of the line, based on the Turbomaster Rotorstorm. His figure did get redecoed into Sandstorm for the 1997 Machine Wars line, making Whirl the third use of the mold. He comes with two Mini-Cons, Gunbuster and Makeshift. These two were part of the Armada line and are just recolors. Since I had the original and you don’t name both twins Steve I gave them new names–Skyport and Chopperhand respectively. The convention comics felt the same way I did apparently, but gave them the names Thunderstick and Skyscyle respectively. I will stick to their toy names for the sake of convenience. Now that we’re all up to speed let’s get the review started already.

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