Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Transformers Go!: Hishoumaru G10

While Western audiences were treated with the continuation of the Transformers Prime toyline in Beast Hunters (and eventually on the television show as well), Japan decided to go a different route with Transformers Go!. Set in the same universe as Prime, Go! essentially continues the story after season 2 of Prime ended. This isn't the first time where Takara has taken Transformers down a different path than what other parts of the world received.

Combiners made their return to Transformers with the inclusion of the Swordbots, martial artist transformers that have the ability to combine and form powerful three robot combiners. There were two teams, Samurai and Shinobi. The Samurai team was the first to receive toys in the Go! series. I own this group and had every intention on doing a post for each 'bot, but if I'm being honest I wasn't all that impressed with them as individual robots so I may never get around to that post. However I'm glad to say the Shinobi team is pretty cool and Hishoumaru is the first member of the Shinobi team we'll look at.

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Takara always does a great job with the packaging for their Transformers series and Go! is no different. Packaged in large window boxes, you can see Hishoumaru displayed in his robot mode. Flip the box over and you've got a larger product shot of the toy in robot and beast mode as well as his combined mode where he forms the top of the combiner.

One side of the box gives you a larger view of the combined mode where Hishoumari forms the top of the combiner robot. We'll talk more about that later. The other side of the box has his tech spec ratings.

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When you have a robot that combines with others there is bound to be some drawbacks to the toy. In the case of this one (and others in the Shinobi group) these robots tend to have very long legs and not much of a defined waist area. Hishoumaru has probably the best robot mode of the group as the torso plastic covers the center portion fairly well. Flip the figure around and it's a whole different story. The robot's legs do suffer from a bit of beast kibble as the bird feet fold up and just hang off the side of his calves.

Articulation for the robot is hampered by the combining element, but between the hinge joints and ball joints you can pull off some decent poses.

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The only part of the robot that I really don't care for is the head/face sculpt. I guess I'm just not fond of the rounded, almost humanoid head. Looking at his long enough and I can start to see Rodimus Prime a little bit.

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Each Swordbot comes with their own unique kabuto along with a few weapons. The kabuto serves as the upper torso and combiner head for when that robot forms the upper half of the trio combiner. While no combined, each robot can wield the kabuto as a shield or a weapon. This piece can also be attached in beast and robot modes.

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In this shot you can see the kabuto has been attached to the back of Hishoumaru. He is also wielding his main weapon, a kunai knife sword. This piece also doubles as the tail section while in beast mode.

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I'm not sure what animal his beast mode is supposed to be. Is it a phoenix, eagle or some sort of chicken? I actually like the bird mode more than I thought I would. It's a little thick and wide in places, but it works. It's not as nice as say Energon's Divebomb was, but it gets the job done.

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From a top view you can get a better idea how the kunai sword attaches to the rear of the bird to form it's tail feathers of sorts. You can also attach the kabuto to the bird's back as well and flip up the head antennae to form little guns. I apologize that I forgot to take a picture of this, but you'll see what I've referenced in the Shinobi team group shot below.

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While I didn't care for the robot's head sculpt, I love the beast mode's bird head sculpt. The red eyes help complete that evil Decepticon look.

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Overall Hishoumaru surprised me. I honestly didn't know what to expect going in after the mild disappointment that was the Samurai team. He has decent looking forms in both robot and beast modes, a fair amount of articulation and he makes for a good upper torso potion of the combiner, GoHishou. I do see however how some fans just don't care for this figure. It's made to combine with the other Shinobi team members...period and while it has it's shortfalls, he turns out to be a decent figure who just happens to have a very loud color scheme going on.

I don't believe this figure (or the other combiners) sold very well and now can be had in a set of 3 with the other Shinobi team members ($30-$50) for what I paid for the figure alone when it was first released. One online store I used to shop frequently has him in stock as of today's date for a mere $16.03 if you're interested.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Masters of the Universe Classics: Stinkor

It's been awhile since I've done a Masters of the Universe related post so let me remedy that with today's topic, MOTU Classics Stinkor.

A part of the highly successful subscription figure service by Mattel, Stinkor finally got the Classics treatment. Before this figure he had his vintage release and a very nicely sculpted NECA release in the vein of the 200X series. Sculpted by the Four Horsemen, it was a very nice "staction figure". When it was time to include this smelly villain into the Classics series, he came with an alternate head so you could display the character with his vintage / Filmation cartoon likeness or his 200X / Mike Young Productions cartoon likeness. Personally I loved these small touches by Mattel.

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When I still owned my collection of MOTUC figures, I chose to display Stinkor with his newer sculpted head. No matter which head you decide to place on your figure the rest of his body has that classic look. From the armor that rises just above his nose and mouth, to his classic looking blue shield and blaster there is no mistake who this character is. The other small accessory was a mask that could be fit over the vintage's head's mouth and nose.

MOTU was notorious for using the same parts to create a vast number of characters and the same can be said with the Classics series. Here he has the recolored Mekanek's upper body armor, the traditional loin cloth waist and Skeletor's feet. Knock it if you want, but it works.

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I honestly can't remember if the vintage Stinkor toy came with a backpack like this, but I do remember seeing it on the NECA version. While the backpack could benefit greatly from some paint apps, I love the idea that he can control his own odor and use it as a weapon.

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New head sculpt

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"Vintage" head sculpt

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I loved the character design of Eternia's villains, but if I'm being honest I never cared for how the characters were fleshed out in the old Filmation animated series. I much preferred the characters overall in the Mike Young Productions animated series as they came across a little more serious and a potential threat the He-Man and the rest of the Masters of the Universe. For this reason I chose to buy and display the more modern appearance figures.

A quick completed auction search on eBay shows this figure loose is selling for $50+ while sealed specimens are selling for near $100! Wow, I guess I should have held onto my old collection.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Transformers 3rd Party: Mech Ideas - Gauntlet DC-03

The bad thing about having so many hobbies and blogs is that sometimes things fall into a crack and go unnoticed for far too long. This is the case with this posts' topic, Mech Idea's Gauntlet. When newcomer to the 3rd party scene, Mach 5, wasn't able to pull off their first release Mech Ideas came into the picture at some point and released Gauntlet and Piston. Back in the fall of 2014 I did a post on Piston, but Gauntlet's post never happened. As I was going through my large folder of unedited photos one evening I came across the images I snapped some time ago. It appears I have lost some of the original images so this won't be a normal post. For a full review if you will of this particular mold, check out my post on Piston.

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Part of Mech Ideas' Demolition Crue (along w/ Apex and Geminus), Gauntlet shares the same style packaging as Piston. The monochrome colors are a nice touch when compared to today's slick 3rd party packaging. Gauntlet comes packaged in robot mode inside a plastic form fitting clamshell insert, but since something happened to most of the pictures I had of him in robot mode, let's start with his vehicle mode.

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Gauntlet of course is modeled after IDW's take on the G1 Autobot, Ironfist. I don't follow the TF comics any longer so I'm not sure what the character was like in the stories, but he isn't the Ironfist I know. This new form however is still modeled after a humvee type vehicle. This version though seems to be SD (super deformed) humvee. The toy is also small, not quite as big as a deluxe and not quite as small as a scout. His weapon mounts to the top of the vehicle and can be removed. The yellow cannon then pulls out to become his gun he wields in robot mode.

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Ironfist was originally a Lightformer and his G1 toy was not released in the US or Japan, but in the European and Australian markets. As you can see the designer of Gauntlet took a lot of the design elements of the G1 toy, especially the weapon. However the Lightformer "viewmaster" gimmick was not retained. Here beside his G1 self, you can really see just how small this toy is.

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Ironfist without his weapon still has a great looking vehicle mode, however if you take the weapon off Gauntlet he just looks like a little armored car. I've heard someone say he looks like an upgraded Roller. Gauntlet is cast is a very light gray/blue colored plastic and there are virtually no paint apps so he just looks really bland without his weapon attached.

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Once you unfold Gauntlet into his robot mode he looks great. I don't mind a small, short robot when he has some girth. This is how Brawn was portrayed in the animated series. As you can see Piston has the same look, only his weapons can be attached on his shoulders...after all he is based on the Triggercon, Crankcase. Gauntlet has a great head sculpt and I'm disappointed that I don't have a close up shot. There isn't any light piping on the head sadly.

While Gauntlet still may not have a lot of paint apps in robot mode, at least the different colored plastic helps make the robot form look so good. For such a small robot, he packs a good bit of articulation. His shoulders and elbows are ball joints, as are his hips. He has a hinge joint for his knee and he has a little bit of ankle articulation as well.

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I'm a little removed from the Transformers 3rd party scene these days so I don't know if any of the major online retailers still stock Gauntlet or not, but if you are interested in this toy it does appear that he can be had from sellers on the secondary market for a decent price. Once I find a little more time I'll probably be adding be adding this toy to my eBay store as I just don't have a place for him in my collection any longer. I'm grateful that Mech Ideas swooped in and helped get this toy to the market as its a fun toy with a decent transformation.

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

KO Korner: G1 Transformers Egale Jet SY-812 "Snare"

The next entry into the Transformers KO Korner is yet another Decepticon Predator jet, Snare. This is the second KO Predator jet that I've acquired for my personal collection, however it falls a little short when compared to the other I own ("Falcon").

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If you didn't know your Transformers and may have wondered if this was a legitimate toy or not, the name alone should have been a dead giveaway. Egale Jet...ha. I'm sure it was meant to be Eagle Jet, but whatever. What we have here is a blue and yellow KO of the Decepticon Predator, Snare. The packaging was a little rough when I received it in the mail. As you can see one corner of the blister card was bent. What you may not be able to see is that the blister bubble was attached with staples. I'm guessing the previous owner wanted to keep it on the card and when the glue started to wear off added the staples to keep the bubble intact. Personally I didn't care as I knew I'd be opening the toy upon arrival.

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He comes packaged in vehicle mode with a spring loaded missile launcher and 3 missiles attached to the spruce. The plastic felt like that cheap, hard variety where you have to be careful moving parts around due to the plastic possibly breaking in half. The toy itself mirrors the original Takara mold quite well, but the nose of the jet has an ever slight gap. The stickers are cheap, paper thin and the adhesive was all but gone once I got him out of the packaging.

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This mold isn't my favorite of the Predator jets to begin with. I only picked it up because I got it from the same seller that I got "Falcon" from. I don't like how the arms protrude out so far towards the front of the jet and I think the wings are little too short. I like the blue and yellow on the toy however. I should point out that the included missiles are the wrong type. The correct missiles have a hole that allows them to be attached underneath the wings. The missiles that came with the toy actually belong to the Autobot Turbomasters.

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Transformation is rather simple and unimaginative. I did have a harder time with this one to get the metal screw to slide along the groove during transformation. Partly due to the hard plastic and exposed excess plastic that was never shaved off. Without any paint apps or stickers he looks really plain in robot mode.

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Head sculpt is dead on when compared to the original, however again without any paint apps it just blends in with the rest of the yellow plastic. Too bad because I like the look of the sculpt.

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Overall this KO is a disappointment. I know that sounds like an odd statement for me to make, but most of the KO toys I own have their own unique charm...except this guy. He can hold his weapon, barely, and it does fire a missile even though it's the wrong missile to begin with. I've never seen this guy in anyone else's collection or for sale before so I doubt many will have the opportunity to buy this toy in the first place, but if you do come across one in the wild just do yourself a favor and stay away from this toy...far away!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Robo Force: Maxx Steele - the Leader

Back in December of 2013, I posted a quick review of my first Robo Force toy, Blazer. I had forgotten the lot of toys I had purchased actually had two boxed Robo Force toys. These pictures have been edited and sitting in one of my "to do" folders for awhile so why not put them to good use?

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I vaguely remember these toys from my childhood, but I never owned any of them. I was surprised that Maxx Steele's box was in good condition as the other one in the lot I purchased had a very tattered box. Max Steele has a very boring design in my book, however some of the other robots released later looked really cool.

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I think it's funny how people thought of robots back in the late 70's / early 80's. The suction cup bottom and the tube arms...this screams 80's. I do have to give it to the designs on the engineering of the arms and how they move with the press of the button on the back of the robot.

I guess I can see the collectible niche of these figures. While they really aren't for me, I was glad I had a buyer at Charticon in 2013 that was more than happy to take off my hands the two Robo Force toys I had at the time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Transformers Adventures: Thunderhoof TAV38

I wasn't sure what I thought after I watched the first episode of the new Transformers Robots in Disguise animated show. It looked different and had a more "kiddie" feel to it, however I gave it a chance. With each new Decepticon that was introduced in the show the more I enjoyed it. It almost felt like the show writers were following the Scooby Doo formula...each episode featured a new scenario and villain. Once Thunderhoof made his debut he quickly became one of my favorite Decepticons on the show. I mean, what is there not to like about a mafia like tough guy w/ a New York accent that just happens to have antlers?

Sadly when it came to getting a toy of Thunderhoof fans had to wait. Eventually Hasbro released the character as a one step changer and then as a legion class toy. Thankfully Takara Tomy stepped up to the plate and announced a Warrior class (i.e. deluxe) figure was on it's way as part of their Transformers Adventures series. Finally, I have a great show accurate figure and I couldn't be happier!

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The packaging is your standard blister card with the bubble taped to the card. I was surprised it wasn't the type of packaging where the backing card could easily be removed from the plastic blister. None the less it's still some very attractive packaging. Packaged inside are a set of instructions as well as a poster/catalog. Sadly no character tech sec card.

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In place of a character card, the profile is posted on the back of the blister card. I'd love it if someone could/would translate this.

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Thunderhoof is a beautiful figure, let me start of by saying that. It seems like the molds used for this series (Hasbro's RID as well) have been hit and miss. Some of the toys look nothing like their show counterparts, while others suffer from being hollowed out in places. While I still have a good many figures to open, this toy quickly jumped to the top of my favorite list. For starters the mold feels solid. The plastic doesn't feel cheap and I never thought any part of him was going to snap in half during his transformation. The figure is well articulated and is generally a fun toy to play with. Combine that with the premium paint applications courtesy of Takara Tomy and you have yourself a winner.

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Thunderhoof's main color is that of a turquoise blue with black used for the limbs. On his chest is a nice metallic pearl turquoise. His wheelwells are a shiny metallic silver and when combined with the shades of blue he stands out as a great looking figure.

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Thunderhoof is aptly named for his animal like features. His antlers are easy to notice, however check out his feet. Hooves...that has to be a first for Transformers. He comes packaged with a very interesting looking shotgun. Look carefully at the top of the gun and you'll see something that looks like antlers. Flip that around and it would look like one of the guns from the video game Gears of War.

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Articulation is pretty good on the figure, much better than the poses I came up with. His shoulders are on ball joints, but because of the wheelwells and the antlers there is some restriction. His waist can rotate a full 360 degrees, but that is mostly due to the transformation. Hips are on ball joints while he has a mid thigh swivel. Knees are hinge joints and the lower leg is on a pin. This gives you some movement, but again it's part of the transformation.

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I was surprised at how small and compact Thunderhoof was when transformed into his alt mode. Everything snapped together and held in place just fine and his large wheels rolled across both smooth surfaces and carpet with ease. I love the fact that he transformers into a combine tractor and it's surprisingly fun to play with in this form. The "teeth" on the front can be lifted up a little.

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I didn't see this documented anywhere on the large instruction sheet, but you can place his shotgun right in the middle of the underside while in vehicle mode. It fits in perfectly and doesn't hinder the toy rolling on the ground.

As much as I love this toy, Thunderhoof is a little undersized. Take a look at the screen shot above from the animated show.

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None the less this is one of my favorite RID/Adventures figures thus far. The Decepticons have sorely been outnumbered in Hasbro's series so it's great that more characters are on their way. The Hasbro version of this figure should be released to retail around the time of this post, however if you don't want to wait or just want a more show accurate deco look no further than the Adventures version.

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