Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Transformers Limited Edition Seacons = Piranacon!

I finally got off my duff a few days ago and had my BigBadToyStore (BBTS)  Pile of Loot shipped and the "new" G1 reissue of the Seacons is finally in my hands. I knew from the early pictures that the set came w/ a trading card sized tech spec of Piranacon himself, but I had no idea Hasbro included cards of the 6 individual team members! Being a trading card collector I love it when the tech specs come in the form of trading cards. I been known to buy the Japanese versions of Transformers just for the card(s) alone! Yes, I'm that crazy. Well I just wanted to share the cards with everyone today.  Perhaps in the future I'll do a review for Piranacon, but for the mean time enjoy the scans of the tech spec cards.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Machine Robo Change & Glow: Liner Robo CG-08

I honestly don't know much of the background on these toys other than they were released in the early 90's. It appears they were some of the last Machine Robo toys made. IMO these are some of the best MR toys, but can be hard to track down. I know they were released outside of Japan under the Robo Machine banner, but not sure which molds. Here is my feeble attempt at reviewing a few from my personal collection.

We'll start off with the packaging:

The packaging used has the same layout as CG-04's and box measures the same dimensions, 4 in. x 5 in. x 2 in.. Again a photo on the back highlights the lights and sound gimmick of the toy. This time being the lower portion of the train's front lights up when you press the button on the front bumper. I believe CG-08 was from the "2nd series" as you can see a much larger group shot of all the toys released in the line - 12 in all.

Next we'll look at the toy itself in robot mode:

This time around the robot comes packaged in a white plastic tray. Nice overall design of the robot. Not much in the way of articulation, only the arms move. The legs just separate so there isn't any movement there at all. From the front it does scream that the alt. mode is that of a bullet train, but once you look at him from the side and back there is no hiding the alt. mode's form. The bottom lip if you will of the train's front flips down to form the robot's chest, revealing translucent yellow lights that light up when the button is pressed. There isn't much color to robot as all the plastic was either molded in white or gray. Thankfully the large chest sticker brings out some needed color (and adheres well too!).

Now we'll take a look at the excellent bullet train alt. mode:

This alt. mode sports a very simplistic, yet sleek design. The train itself is 4 1/2 inches long. The windows are painted black with the rest of the other colors/detail being stickers. There are black plastic free wheeling wheels underneath the toy, but to give it that more realistic look there are shiny silver stickers that give the train the appearance of having real train wheel assemblies. If you look on the bottom portion of the train's nose, you can see that the translucent yellow is one large strip. There is a gray sticker that is supposed to split up the yellow strip to give it the appearance of head lights I guess. The button that activates the lights and sound is just above the yellow light strip on the nose of the train. Unlike the tanker truck I reviewed early, this alt. mode does a fine job at concealing all of the robot parts.

Overall this is my favorite of the Change & Glow Machine Robos currently in my collection. I've always had a infinity for trains so when I came across this one a few years ago on Yahoo! Japan auctions I knew I had to have him. I believe I got him for a mere 800 yen, but haven't seen a packaged one for sale/auction since. The robot and train modes are equally well thought out and executed. Transformation is very simplistic, but that doesn't detract from the overall coolness of the toy. I would highly recommend this toy, even if you're not into Machine Robo or Go-Bots. Dare I say this is better than the Trainbots from Transformers?!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Machine Robo Change & Glow: Tanker Robo CG-04

I honestly don't know much of the background on these toys other than they were released in the early 90's. It appears they were some of the last Machine Robo toys made. IMO these are some of the best MR toys, but can be hard to track down. I know they were released outside of Japan under the Robo Machine banner, but not sure which molds. Here is my feeble attempt at reviewing a few from my personal collection.

We'll start off with the packaging:

The box is about 4 inches wide and close to 5 inches tall and 2 inches deep. I love the CG art Bandai used on the front of the box. Very beautiful. It does have a top box flap where I'm guessing these were originally hung on pegs in the retail stores. I've tucked it into the top of the box to give it a more uniform look. The back of the box shows off this line's gimmick, being lights and sound. This particular toy has it's button on the front grill of the truck's cab. Pressing the button illuminates the front yellow lights and emits a siren like sound. Unfortunately the battery in mine is close to being dead so the gimmick doesn't work too well. I've looked all over and I can't figure out how to replace the battery (if it's at all possible).

Next we'll look at the toy itself in robot mode:

Toy comes packaged in a clear plastic form fitting tray in robot mode.

The gas tank is detachable and each end slides into the center effectively forming a backpack for the robot. The torso and thighs are all made of die-cast metal, with the rest being plastic molded in a dark yellow. Silver chrome covers the grill and robot's head.

Thankfully the gas tank is a made of a light weight gray plastic so it doesn't make the robot top heavy when attached. His feet are quite large so the robot stands up very well on his own.

Now let's take a look at the vehicle mode:


The front portion of the truck does slightly pivot from side to side, but because of the robot's arms being behind the truck cab, it does limit the range of motion. Overall length of the truck is 5 1/2 inches. With attaching the tanker, it's a rather bland looking flat bed. The wheels are molded black plastic and are free wheeling. My only complaint with this mode is that the robot's head/face is exposed as you can clearly see in the pictures. Other than that the robot parts are fairly well concealed.

Not much was included outside of the black & white instruction sheet and sticker sheet, but there was a little insert showing off the first few releases from the line. I'm still looking for some of these early releases for myself. The designs for the police car, fire truck & ambulance look very solid.

Overall I love this toy. I purchased it some time ago on Yahoo! Japan auctions for 1,000 yen. There isn't much articulation outside the robot's arms and legs to some degree, but the overall design is a winner. I would have preferred paint apps to stickers as some of them don't want to adhere to the toy very well. Of all the Change & Glows I have the stickers work best on this particular toy. Even with the battery being dead, this is a fun little toy and a great addition to anyone's Machine Robo or Go-Bots collection.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Transformers Energon: Rodimus Test Shot

There have been a lot of Rodimus figures over the years between the various Transformer line of toys and with his popularity increasing with every day it seems I'm sure there will be more and more different toys branding the name of Rodimus to come.  This particular version features an alt. mode not usually associated with the Rodimus name.  Instead of looking at the final product that most fans are familiar with we'll take a look at the last phase this toy went through before being massed produced.  Often called a 'test shot' these aren't easy to come across as they aren't meant for the general public.

" I can take down any Decepticon without getting a scratch. "

Rodimus is a wild, rebellious young Autobot and foreman to the Omnicons.  His taste for danger is almost greater than his sense of style.  He is an aggressive, headstrong young warrior who will not think twice about rushing into battle.  Rodimus is able to powerlinx with his Autobot brother, Inferno.  In vehicle mode, he becomes a semi-truck capable of great speeds.  Rodimus' primary weapon is a powerful energon cannon, which he often uses to teach the Decepticons two very important battle and hide.

Strength: 8 Intelligence: 8 Speed: 9 Endurance: 7
Rank: 8 Courage: 9 Firepower: 8 Skill: 8

As you can tell from the above photo this 'test shot' version of Energon Rodimus is rather plain.  There aren't any paint applications on the toy.  Everything you see is plastic molded in either red, a dark gray or orange.  The translucent orange gun and missile are the same as the production version however.  Test shots are used for a variety of purposes - from testing the injection molds to testing the overall strength of the plastics to safety reasons.  I've seen a fair share of Transformer test shots over the years and not always are they cast in colors used in the final product.  Sometimes parts are clear (to test hidden parts) or the toy has been cast in a bright lime green.  At least this version of Rodimus I was able to obtain features his main colors...which was really desirable to me at the time.  The toy that I have must have been used towards the end of the run as there are no visible changes or differences when compared to my mass produced version.  All 6 wheels roll freely and nothing hinders the transformation process.

In robot mode you can see the orange plastic used for the fists and thighs.  When I first got this toy from China (I believe) the thing that stood out most was how loose most of the limbs were.  Rodimus can still pull of some poses, hold his weapon and stand on his own - but the figure in general is loose.  I'm guessing this is because of the nature of the figure.  It was meant as a test subject so to speak and not meant for me - the collector.  Other than that the figure transforms just as the regular version does.  The combining feature is also in place and can be used with any other deluxe Energon Autobot.  

I used to own 5 different versions of this mold (the other 3 were the white redeco as Energon Checkpoint, the black Japanese Superlink version and the 2009 Botcon version as Thunderclash).  I'm not sure why I liked this mold so much as I don't think it's aged very well.  Perhaps it's the Classics version of Rodimus in recent years that has spoiled me as such!  At any rate I wanted to share a quick look at this test shot version of Rodimus.  If anyone is intrigued I have placed this figure on eBay as I'm trying to narrow my collection's focus.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Transformers Power Core Combiners: Double Clutch with Rallybots

Bio: Double Clutch has always been a master of diversionary tactics. His entire team is built around the idea of confusing and disrupting Decepticon operations. The speed and noise of the Rallybots alone is enough to strain any robot's sensors. Add to that all the electronic countermeasures built into the team, and the Rallybots become the single greatest threat to Decepticon strategy.

Strength: 6 Intelligence: 8 Speed: 9 Endurance: 6
Rank: 7 Courage: 9 Fireblast: 6 Skill: 8

Wave 2 of Hasbro's Power Core Combiners have been released to retail for some time now, but if your local store's shelves are still full of the Combaticons and Aerialbots like most places you may have a hard time finding this set or the Destructicons also released in this 2nd wave. Prices most places at the time of this posting have dropped $5.00 to $15.00. Does the price drop warrant a purchase? Let's take a look.

Double Clutch and the Rallybots come packaged in the now familiar gift set form large window box. Again there is some great box art of the combined form on the left side of the box that wraps around to the side.

The back of the box features (photoshopped) images of the toys in both their vehicular modes and combined form. Aesthetically the combined form looks pretty good from these images...but with Transformers there is always more than meets the eye!

Before we delve into the combined form let's take a look at the commander of the team, Double Clutch.

Double Clutch is a modern muscle car. I believe he is heavily modeled after a Dodge Charger, but unlike the older Alternators brand these vehicles are not licensed by any real world car manufacturer. Double Clutch's main color is a light metallic blue/silver and features a decent silver flame deco tampographed onto the car's good. The windshield and windows are painted black. I'm assuming this was done over using translucent plastic to better hide the robot bits. The back windshield has a stationary Mini-Con port.

Hasbro and the designers did a good job at containing the robot parts on the underside of the vehicle. You can also see the bright blue connecting ports hidden beneath the car.

The transformation process from car to robot isn't too intricate - on the level of your average deluxe size Transformer. Overall the robot mode isn't too shabby, but he is rather short and has a "dumpy" look. The car's back bumper forms the upper torso and chest of the robot and is just too big in my opinion. Legs are short and the arms are weak. The best thing about the robot mode is the head as it is a very nice sculpt. Articulation in robot mode is limited, especially in the arms. The elbows are ball joints, but the connector pegs hang off the back of the arms and hinder movement. With the legs being so short and stubby it almost doesn't matter that there is any articulation as it is hard to pull off dynamic poses due to the chunkiness.

The view from the rear doesn't get much better!  At least the lower connector pegs fold out at the feet and help stabilize the robot.

Transforming Double Clutch into his torso form is rather easy as all it entails is folding back the arms and rotating out the connector pegs, flipping down the head and replacing it w/ the larger head and finally folding the bottom portion of the legs around and flipping down the connector pegs. Now you are ready to attach the 4 included Rallybot drones.

The race car drone forms the right arm. It's blue and white with a bright red Autobot symbol on the hood - the flash was too bright on the white background so it isn't showing up. There is also a small white spoiler on the back. The connector port is located in on the top rear of the vehicle. When plugged onto Double Clutch or any other commander figure it makes a rather long arm with no distinct hand.

The left arm is formed by plugging in this very small tuner drone. It is by far the smallest of the Rallybot drones or of any other team's drones I've seen thus far. The connector port is located in the center rear of the vehicle. There is a large silver Autobot symbol on the top of the car. There is also a Mini-Con port on the hood that can be flipped up or down depending on your taste.

This is the drag racer drone. It is meant to form the right leg and foot. The connection port is located in the center rear of the vehicle. I had a hard time w/ the automorph feature when plugging this drone onto Double Clutch. The vehicle did not want to fold out enough to form a solid foot. I'm not sure if this is a widespread problem or if I just got a bum drone. Like most of the other drones there is a Mini-Con port on the spoiler that can be flipped up or down. The car itself is small and lightweight, but rolls well on a smooth service. I apologize for the whitewashed photo as it doesn't show off the metallic silver paint used on the sides and cockpit area of the car.

The street racer drone forms the left leg and foot. It has an equally interesting design and paint job. The vehicle is rather long as you may be able to tell by the distance between the front and rear wheels. That small red spot on the back of the vehicle has a Mini-Con port that flips up and down. There is also a stationary Mini-Con port on the roof. The connector port is located underneath the front hood.

The combined form is...well...not very good. I really really wanted to like this set of Power Core Combiners, but I'm just not convinced by it's combined mode. Bandai & Tonka pulled off a better combiner in the form of Go-Bots Puzzler! Neither drone makes a convincing arm. The fact there is no distinct hand is also a major drawback. The blue/white race car drone's "hand" doesn't even fold out towards the rest of the body! The arms in general are a complete disaster. The articulated shoulders are attached to Double Clutch's hands which peg onto the back by two small pegs. These pegs have a hard time staying in place when you try to move the arms or shoulders making the arms really floppy if you aren't careful.

I already mentioned the problems I had making the red drag racer drone form a foot and that issue hampers the rest of the figure as it makes it really hard to stand the combined figure. The street racer drone makes a better, but it can't support the weight of the figure alone. After some tinkering w/ the legs and hips I was able to slightly turn each leg to get a pose that would allow it to stand on it's own without my support.

The combined form's head is decent at best. I don't mind the 'horns' so much as the center crest. It is too big and gives the head a weird shape. The visor that covers the eyes is slightly darker than Double Clutch's main blue color.

All in all in disappointed with this toy. Going in I wanted to like it and I thought I would, but the moment I opened it and started to mess around I had buyer's remorse! This is one of the reasons it has taken me so long to post this review. I also bought Crankcase w/ the Destructicons at the same time and I'll have a review posted for them eventually. Double Clutch as a stand alone Transformer isn't bad. The Rallybot drones are very small and don't have a lot of detailing making them for the most part forgettable. I really can't recommend buying this toy unless you are a completionist. The Power Core idea in itself isn't horrible and there are several good sets (Combaticons and Dinobots come to mind immediately), this particular set just misses the mark on so many levels.