Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Transformers Power Core Combiners: Heavytread with Groundspike

Horrible distribution on the last wave of various Transformers...I blame it all on the third movie, Dark of the Moon. Retailers were so anxious (?) to put out the new movie line of Transformers toys that a lot of the last waves of other Transformers lines received poor distribution in the retail channel...if any at all. Generations, Reveal the Shield and Power Core Combiners all had toys that were super scare at local retail. Heavytread is one of those. When I first saw the solicitations online I couldn't wait. Not only was this a new PCC mold, but it was one that looked awesome. Needless to say I never saw this toy in my area. I had to resort to a good buddy on the message boards at TFW2005.com (thanks Big Filipino!) to get this toy. It came in tri-lingual packaging...which I didn't care since I promptly opened it. So here are my words & opinion on this hard to find piece.

Bio: At his core, Heavytread is a gentle soul.  He enjoys the fragile beauty of Earth, appreciating it all the more because of the ease with which it could be ruined.  He is glad of the power he now wields, because it gives him the ability to defend the delicate creatures he loves.

Strength:  10  Intelligence:  6  Speed:  5  Endurance: 9
Rank:  7  Courage:  8  Fireblast:  9  Skill: 4

I'm not sure where my forum buddy originally got this toy since it comes in tri-lingual packaging, but it didn't matter to me. I had long given up hope that I'd ever find him locally and I wasn't quite ready to pay eBay prices for the guy. I'm glad though that I finally broke down and picked him up however as he is a strong addition to the Power Core Combiners line.

Heavytread's primary colors are beige with olive and dark green camo. The tank treads are painted black. Right out of the packaging you can tell that he has a nice hefty feel. He's bigger than your standard scout class figure, but not quite as large as a deluxe. Sorry I don't have any comparison pictures for you. I feel lucky I was able to get this review posted alone!

One of the things that stood out on this figure when I first saw pictures online was the head sculpt. I love the boxy head. It reminds me of Generation 1, yet it has a slight modern look to it. I like Transformers that have visors for eyes and mouth plates.

Heavytread looks pretty good from all angles. Like most of the PCC Commanders the blue connector ports hang off part of the robot which detracts from the overall aesthetics. Thankfully the figure is well proportioned allowing it to stand up freely without any assistance.

One thing I've never been good at with my Transformers is pulling off cool poses. This is about the best I could do without stealing someone else's poses. For a chunky figure as such it has a good bit of articulation. The head and neck are on a pivot joint allowing limited range of movement. The shoulders allow the arms to be fully rotated 360 degrees. The elbows feature a hinge joint. A ball joint is used where the legs connect to the hips. There is also a swivel joint in each thigh and a hinge joint in each knee. The tank turret on the back can be rotated a full 360 degrees as well so the tank barrel doesn't have to point straight up as pictured.

Heavytread didn't come packaged with a standard hand held weapon, but his Minicon, Groundspike can double as a weapon. We'll look at that later in the review when we take an indepth look at his Minicon partner.

Transformation from robot to tank was fairly easy. The instructions were easy to follow and I didn't have any real problems with any of the pieces folding the way they should. I really like the overall look of the tank. I still think he's a Decepticon when I glance at his tank mode. I'm just not used to Autobots being tanks. The turret does have a full 360 degree range of motion, but the cannon itself doesn't lift up and down. I was disappointed to find this out.

As with the robot mode you can see the blue connector ports hanging off the back of the tank. I'm beginning to see why some seasoned collectors are painting these ports another color or removing them all together as they are really ugly.

There is a good amount of detail molded into the plastic in this mode. From the tank treads to the intricate metal panels and rivets on the armor plating. The tank in whole could have probably benefited from a few more paint applications, but still looks solid overall.

There isn't much robot kibble exposed in tank mode. From the underneath you can see the 4 small free rolling wheels in the middle of the tank treads along with the Power Core Combiner combined form's head. More on that later.

Let's shift our focus over to his included Minicon partner, Groundspike.

For whatever reason Hasbro decided to make all of these Minicons that are part of the Power Core Combiners line partially translucent. I'm a huge Minicon fan (I can't wait to share my Minicon collection on this blog someday), but I hate this translucent look. At least Groundspike was given blue plastic instead of a bright yellow or green as other Minicons in this line feature. He's got a pretty cool robot form. His arms are a little short and in a fixed position (no elbow articulation) and his legs are long, but it still pulls off a good looking robot form. He has two Powerlinx ports on this chest. One in the front and another one on the back.

Another thing that about Groundspike that I don't care for is the lack of any paint applications to the head/face area. It's super hard to see the head let alone the face. I tried to zoom in on the face. See how non-descript it is?

Doesn't it look like he's got bird feet? From the side you can see how the sides and back of the arms have a shovel like look. I like how it gives Groundspike a tough and strong look.

All of the PCC Minicons are essentially triple changers. They form a vehicular attachment as well as handheld weapon of some sort. Groundspike forms some sort of shovel armor...that's the best description I can give you. This fits onto the front of Heavytread's tank form giving him a beefier look.

Groundspike in this mode can also be attached to Heavytread's chest in robot form. I personally don't care the look. It does however look better when attached to Heavytread's chest when he has combined with other PCC drones.

I'm not exactly sure what kind of weapon Groundspike is supposed to be in this mode. Some sort of hook melee weapon maybe?

There is a single peg on the underside that allows Heavytread to wield him while in robot mode. 

The whole appeal to the PCC line is the ability of each Commander figure to combine with small drone figures to form a larger combiner type robot.

In this mode you get a new larger head for the combiner and Hasbro has hit a home run with this head sculpt in my opinion.

Obviously Heavytread doesn't have his own set of drones to command, so I had him commandeer Bombshock's Combaticon drones for this review. I figured they were the best fit since they share the same military theme. Outside of the silver Decepticon symbols on the limbs, what do you think? I think they mesh fairly well together. The colors aren't quite a match, but does that really matter?

Flip out the small Powerlinx port on Heavytread's chest again and you can attach Groundspike in his armor mode to the front of your newly created combiner. There definitely has a Devastator vibe going on here! Groundspike looks so much better attached in this mode, don't you think?

As with a lot of other toy lines some of the best figures always seem to come out towards the end of the line and Heavytread is a perfect example. While I have enjoyed just about all of the PCC Commander figures Heavytread and his Minicon Groundspike just seem to be head and shoulders over the others. From a solid robot mode to a great tank mode to a fantastic new combiner head this toy is a total win. While it's not perfect it is worth the extra bucks you'll likely have to pay.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Yard sale finds

I'm not one of those fortune people that seems to hit paydirt every time they hit a flea market or yard sale, but this weekend while getting my daughter up from bed I noticed the house across the street was having a yard sale.  So I grabbed my little girl and pop tart for her and went out the front door to see if there was anything of "value".  Right before I left I saw a small stack of DVDs.  Not sure why I looked at them, but I'm glad I did as there were a few of PS2 games tucked in the stack.

I don't know much about the game Malice, but it was a buck and was complete so why not.  Growing up in the age of Intellivision and Atari 2600 the Activision Anthology collection stood out.  It was a buck as well.

Sorry for the glare, but I wanted to try and show off the games included on the disc.  I'm looking forward to playing Chopper Command, Kaboom!, Keystone Kapers, Pitfall, River Raid and River Raid 2 the most.  I believe these games make the first PS2 purchases in well over 3 years.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

G.I. Joe Subscription Service Preview - Quarrel

Finally!  Some new information has been released about the upcoming 2011 G.I. Joe Club subscription service.  We already know that Quarrel will be the first of the 12 figures and today we find out more information about the club...with the exception of the one item most people want to know...the cost!

Speaking for myself I'm excited about the potential of this service.  I just hope the cost doesn't exclude many (including myself) from being able to sign up for a subscription.  The SDCC exclusive Zaranna was $15 so I'm hoping they use that pricing model.  Much more than that would make it harder to swallow...at least for me.

•Officer Level Members (paid) get a monthly magazine and a free figure each year they are an active member. Members also receive special pricing in the online store and free use of the MCAX auction site. There is also a Members Only message board.

•The Club will soon be offering an add-on service to Officer Level Members which will be a Figure Subscription Service. This will be an additional charge to your paid Club Officer Level Membership.

•The Figure Subscription will be 2 carded figures shipped every month for 6 months for a total of 12. Subscribers will receive a 13th figure FREE at the end if the subscription period.

•Figure Subscriptions will only be available to Officer Level (paid) members for a limited time. After the cutoff date, no more subscriptions will be sold for that period of figure mailings.

•The Figure Subscription and Club Membership are TWO different things and you MUST be an active Officer Level member in order to be eligible for the Figure Subscription.

•The 12 figures will be known when the Figure Subscription window opens, but the 13th figure will be a secret. (We hope.) Don't tell when you get yours! :-)

Courtesy of HISSTank.com

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Transformers Prime Optimus Prime SDCC exclusive

The 2011 San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) has come and gone and what it left behind was all sorts of exciting news about upcoming Transformers product. One of the exclusive Transformers toys offered this year at the convention was a preview of sorts of the upcoming Transformers Prime line based on the animated show of the same name. Our cable company doesn't carry the HUB network on the level we subscribe to so I've yet to see a full length episode of Prime, but from what I have seen and know about the series makes it look like it's a lot of fun. Combine my curiosity with the awesome packaging that tends to accompany SDCC exclusives and you have a recipe for success.

The packaging this year is short of awesome. Right off the bat you should be able to tell that the box is modeled after Optimus Prime's chest. In the middle you'll notice a round logo of sorts. This is actually a full size magnet that holds the box's 2 flaps shut. Wow, a magnetized box! This has to be a first. In the bottom left corner you have a silver foil SDCC 2011 sticker.

The top of the box has Optimus' name printed in silver foil. I like the font used and the the silver foil names the name pop out on the stormy blue background.

On each side of the box you have the Transformers Prime logo. With this being a preview figure of sorts you also have "First Edition" stamped in silver foil signifying this is a special release.

Flip the box over and you have some beautiful original artwork depicting Optimus Prime holding the Matrix of Leadership above his head. All I can say is awesome!

Alright, enough looking at the outside of the box. Let's take the magnet off and take a peek at what is inside this awesome looking packaging.

Wow!  Each flap opens up to reveal more art along with Optimus himself encased in the Matrix! Hasbro continues to outdo themselves with their packaging. It's almost too pretty to disturb, but thankfully the Matrix isn't attached to the box. Instead it's just laying there waiting to be picked up and opened.

The left flap tells the story of Transformers Prime.

While the left flap is all about the Matrix of Leadership.

As I said before the Matrix is completely removable as the box acts more as a tray. You can take the whole Matrix piece out and where it around your neck with the included strap. This strap is simply attached by pieces of velcro at the ends.

It seems as if Hasbro took a note from Takara Tomy and packaged this in a way where you could remove the toy without having to totally butcher the packaging. Most toys in Japan are done this way. You can remove the toy and put it back in the packaging and (almost) can't tell that it's been opened. Kudos for this Hasbro. The Matrix is actually made up of metallic printed cardboard that is shaped to form the Matrix. The cardboard is rather flimsy so you have to be careful when removing the round center tray in the middle that holds Optimus. The only thing left in your way now are a few paper ties.

 Also included in the box is your standard instruction sheet giving you the steps to transform Optimus into vehicle mode. On the back are the instructions to get him back into robot mode. Growing up I would toss these aside quickly to get at transforming the toy. Now they are either too complicated or I'm stupid. Optimus here had a very unique and fun transformation. Nothing too complicated here, although a few of the panels didn't want to snap together as easily as I imagine they were designed to do.

 And finally we have freed Optimus from his cardboard and plastic "prison". Optimus Prime is a deluxe class action figure and stands about the same height as most other deluxe TFs. It appears the designers did a good job capturing his animated likeness from the show. As you can see Optimus sports his classic red and blue color scheme.

Here's a look at Optimus' rear. He does have a little bit of a "truck backpack", but surprisingly he has good balance. His feet are just large enough that it helps support the extra weight on the back.

I apologize for my lack of awesome action poses. I didn't go to action figure posing school. I wanted to show you however that this version of Optimus is well articulated. He has the now almost standard ball and socket or swivel joints in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, thighs, knees and feet.  

The only part of the robot that I don't care for are the arms. For one the shoulder movement seems hindered by some of the plastic around the shoulder area. The arms and forearms also seem a little weird to me. With part of the forearm being gray it gives the appearance of long hands...I dunno I just don't care for it. His hands also seemed a little skeletal to me. At least the hands are molded in a clinched fist like a lot of TFs have. He can wield his weapon in either hand. If you look at the inner left part of the leg you'll see a gray trailer hitch. Even though there isn't a trailer (yet), this is a nice touch.

Optimus retains his long nose tractor trailer cab form made popular in the live action Transformers movies. I don't care one way or the other, but I am glad there aren't any stupid flames on the cab! All six wheels are free rolling and aren't hindered at all.

The truck looks really good from the front. The vehicle could probably use some more paint apps, especially on the grill. I'm not a big fan of silver chrome, but he bumper, grill and smoke stacks would probably look even better if they were nice and shiny.

The back of the truck isn't best a it shows parts of the robot, but who looks at he back of the vehicle that much?

If you care here is a shot underneath the truck. You may be able to tell I had a hard time with one arm/shoulder lining up correctly during the transformation.

In closing this is an excellence piece. Hasbro has already stated that they'll be making a voyager scaled Optimus Prime figure which ought to excel over this one. That said it may be early next year before that toy is released so if you don't want to wait then you may want to go ahead and pick up this version of Optimus. As of this post Optimus is still available (wow, that kinda surprises me) at Hasbro Toy Shop. 

The packaging is beautiful and I'm so glad it was made to reassemble everything if you decide on opening it. If this figure is any indication of the quality of other Transformers Prime toys coming this fall then I think a lot of fans and collectors will be very happy.