Thursday, May 30, 2013

Transformers Arms Micron: Bumblebee AM-02

Before I get into this review, let me give you a little back story on this purchase.  When it was first announced that Takara Tomy's version of Transformers Prime toys would be coming with Microns (Mini-Cons) I was ecstatic.  Ever since the little TFs were first introduced in Armada / Micron Densetsu I was hooked.  I would troll the internet in years gone by looking for every single one that I didn't already own.  This included many of the Japanese exclusive Microns.  When HLJ put up some of the first pre-orders for the Arms Micron toys I quickly placed an order for Bumblebee and Ratchet.

Then as time passed and more details were released I discovered that the Arms Micron toys would feature many more differences over Hasbro's own Prime toys.  First the Microns themselves would have to be built. Secondly the Transformers themselves weren't heavily painted and came with sticker sheets.  I was disappointed to hear this news and I canceled (at least I thought I did) my pre-orders.  Turns out I was wrong and thus I now own Arms Micron Bumblebee AM-02.  Yea me!

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I was impressed with my first hands on impression of the new packaging.  Not having a window displaying the toy inside gives the designers more room for great CGI as in this case.

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Takara Tomy was highlighting how the other Microns could be used with each release from the very start.

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Each side of the box highlights both Bumblebee and his Micron, B.2's tech spec rankings.

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Now at the time of opening Bee here I hadn't bothered to buy the Prime version.  There are already way too many versions of Bumblebee floating around that I didn't need yet another one so similar.  Right out of the box you can see how naked he is without his pin stripes.  I guess some people may prefer this look, but it's just way too much yellow for my tastes.

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There we go, that's much better.  Outside of some of the stickers just not wanting to apply very easily (the roof in particularly was a pain in the butt), look carefully at the black stripes.  Notice anything?  Do you notice the different shade of yellow?  The stickers on the roof and hood are outlined in a slightly darker shade of yellow.  I'm not sure why this was done, but it looks lame if you ask me.

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The only other stickers to be applied in vehicle mode are the two rear tail lights.  They have a metallic look to them and have a streak of silver underneath the red.

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I know a lot of people claimed the Transformers Prime First Edition mold to be the superior Bumblebee mold in this series, but I only found him once at retail and I opted to pass over him in favor of Arcee and Starscream.  I don't find this mold to be bad, but the shoulders leave a lot to be desired.  There is a good bit of articulation in all areas, but the shoulders and chest area are clunky and a little cumbersome.  The head sculpt however is a near perfect representation of his show self.

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B.2 - despite all the small stickers, is a very cool gorilla looking Micron.  As much as I like the robot mode, his gun form is top notch.  At first I was worried when I saw the gold, but plastic on this release seemed very strong. Owning a G1 Black Zarak you can understand my hesitation in transforming this piece too many times.

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Bumblebee has ports in his forearms that allow B.2 or any other Arms Micron figure.  Bumblebee has never really been known for the firepower he packs, but at least this version makes the yellow Autobot a little more menacing looking.

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Of all the Arms Micron releases this is one that I really can't recommend unless you are a completionist or just a die hard Bumblebee fan.  Before his Micron was released in a few different ways I could say that was the redeeming factor if you did buy the set.  For now this guy will stay in my collection, but there are so many  other Arms Micron / Prime toys that are a better buy.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

3B's Toy Hive Contest Winnings - Hot Wheels / Matchbox: Batman

Sometime last year I won a prize in a contest hosted by 3B's Toy Hive.  In the mess I call my toy room / man cave at home these 3 Batman Hot Wheels / Matchbox cars got lost in the shuffle until recently.  While I'm more of a Marvel Comics fan, I can appreciate the Batman character and all of his cool gadgets...including his vehicles.  I also love die-cast cars and such so I was happy to receive these items.

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I may be one of the only people on planet Earth that hasn't seen the "new" Batman trilogy, but I do think the two Hot Wheels came from that series of films.  The Matchbox Batmobile...I haven't got a clue as to where it comes from.  The comics maybe?

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I really like the Batmobile on the right.  The metallic blue Batmobile isn't bad, but the aircraft on the far right is just weird.

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Starting off with "The Bat" I'm not sure what to think.  Looking head on it kind of resembles a helicopter.  Underneath the translucent blue canopy you can see there is a small seat molded inside the cockpit.  On either side of the cockpit are what appears to be two large turbines...or are they guns of some type.  See, I told you I haven't seen these movies!

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I wasn't expecting the arched look when I took the vehicle out of the package.  Looking at the under belly of the craft it looks more like some sort of crustacean than it does a vehicle.

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Now this version of the Batmobile I like.  The flat matte black combined with the blue canopy and metallic blue trim on the wheels looks great.

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The Matchbox Batmobile looks a lot different and more comic book-ish.  The combination of the metallic blue and red looks pretty good, but I don't care for the red "eyes" on the front.

Outside of the black Batmobile I'm not sure if I would've bought either of these had I found them "in the wild", but after opening them up I can appreciate the vehicles.  I've since given them to my little girls who love playing with Hot Wheels.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Transformers Arms Micron: Ironhide AM-20

The Japanese series of the Transformers Prime line of toys, Arms Micron, has given collector's a choice when it comes to what version of a particular character they'd like to add to their collections. In addition to this there have been several characters exclusive to the Arms Micron like. While this mold was released in the Prime series as Kup, this mold was made for Ironhide. Why Hasbro opted for Kup over Ironhide confounds me.

At first I didn't care for the Arms Micron packaging, but it's really grown on me over time. The CGI rendering of Ironhide looks really nice. It's a good mesh of G1 and movie-verse Ironhide.

Like most of the other Arms Micron releases, the back of the packaging shows off how the figure can interact with other Microns from the series. Ironhide is already tough, we all know that...but check out his extra firepower! Ironhide's included Micron is Iro. He's one of the cooler Microns, but I fear his plastic may not stay strong overtime. More on that later.

Both Ironhide and Iro rank pretty high in their respective Tech Spec rankings.

If there is a downside to the Arms Micron toys is the fact that the toys are devoid of tampographs and painted details. All of the figures come "naked" right out of the package. If you want the "chrome" look, more details or faction symbols you have to sticker up your figure. I have never enjoyed stickering my toys.

Ironhide's stickers apply pretty easily, something that I can't say about all Arms Micron releases. Most of his stickers are applied in vehicle mode. The sides get 3 shiny graphite stickers with a metallic red trim across the top. A single Autobot sticker on the hood and two more graphite stickers on the tailgate.

The stickers do really help break up all of Ironhide's red, but I wish the wheels had been painted as they look really cheap looking as is.

Iro forms a very large and round cannon for Ironhide. He can be placed on either side of Ironhide or in the bed of the truck. The gun looks really odd in the bed so I just leave him stuck on the side while in vehicle form.

Ironhide looks like the rough and old veteran that he truly is and his Arms Micron version is no exception. I really like his overall look in robot mode, but I wish the truck's grill would snap down a little further. 1) His mid section is rather large and 2) His head is slightly hidden by the truck's front bumper. As far as I know the Transformers Prime version of Kup suffered from these same issues.

Iro has one of the more defined robot modes when it comes to the Micron partners in the series. You can clearly make out the robot's head, arms and legs. Iro assembles fairly easy, but what most concerns me is how the arms clip onto the main body. The clips are basically "c" shaped and this goldish colored plastic seems very brittle. In fact one of the c clips on mine shows some serious stress marks just by clipping the arms on! Be very careful when transforming him. Like most of these Microns there are plenty of stickers to apply. Thankfully other than the faction symbol that goes underneath the pink crystal, none of the stickers are super tiny.

In a surprising move Hasbro did eventually release Ironhide in their Prime series, but only in the Cyberverse scale. I grabbed him more out of curiosity because at the time I hadn't yet purchased AM-20. He's pretty cool actually. I like having two weapons. The new head sculpt is a little more G1 looking with the head crest and I like how the truck's windshield forms the chest. Perhaps if he was more red I'd like him even better.

With AM-20 being exclusive to Japan not all collectors will bother to add him to their collections. Since Ironhide never showed up in the animation I'm sure a lot of collectors will skip over him, however if you do choose to pick him up I think you'll be pleased with your purchase. While not a perfect mold, it is far superior over Hasbro's version as Kup.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Transformers United: Artfire

Transformers United Million Publishing exclusive Artfire. It seems we waited for ever since this figure was announced. Part of a mail away program in Japan in conjunction with Million Publishing's Generations 2012 book. Previously Takara Tomy had released Artfire's Targetmaster partner, Stepper, so now the pair is complete. These two characters in the original Japanese Generation One line are the subject of many collector's white whales or holy grails. Now everyone can have updated versions of these two elusive and high sought after G1 Targetmaster characters.

Takara Tomy decided to package both Stepper and Artfire in glossy black and white boxes. The packaging is fairly simple and gets the job done..

I'm used to seeing toy packaging feature great looking artwork or a large window displaying the actual toy inside, so I was surprised and impressed to flip over Artfire's box and see this nice action scene featuring the figures of Artfire and Stepper.

I have no idea what the text says in the upper corner, but you can make out Artfire's tech spec rankings in the bottom right corner.


On each end of the box you have a picture of Artfire in each of his two forms.

Tucked away inside the box is the form fitting plastic tray holding hostage Artfire and his two Targetmaster Micron partners. Being a huge Micron/Mini-Con collector I was thrilled to hear that Artfire was coming with an extra Micron, especially when I saw it was the Firebolt figure.

For starters if you have or are familiar with Hasbro's Generations Inferno or Reveal the Shield Grapple, then you'll feel right at home here. While the G1 Artfire was a recolored G1 Inferno, this is more a recolored RTS/United Grapple. Artfire does retain his original red and white color scheme which looks fantastic on this mold. The only thing that can make this release better is if I had the head piece with the white wings to apply in robot mode. Maiden Japan made these head kits, but when I ordered mine for Generations Inferno I decided to wait on the kit for Artfire. Doh!

The paint apps are stellar looking. The translucent blue used for the windows, headlights and light bar really pop with the red and white. The held sculpt is unchanged from Inferno's release, but that's OK since it fits in with the whole G1 to modern upgrade.

Artfire retains the extendable crane arm that Grapple had. Now I know Artfire was a fire truck and this Artfire has a crane arm, but it works. This really doesn't bother me. I'm not sure why Takara Tomy didn't craft an actual ladder piece for this release. Perhaps since it's limited release was part of the equation. Had this been a mass release I bet you a ladder would've been present. I know once of the third party Transformer companies made an accessory kit that contained a ladder for Inferno. I assume if you had that piece you could place it on Artfire...but don't hold me to that.

One thing about the crane arm that benefits this release is the ability to attach both Targetmaster Microns to the hook. Now Artfire can be armed and ready for Destron/Decepticon attacks while driving around in vehicle form!


Artfire's two Targetmaster Microns are some of the better Micron molds in my opinion. The one on the left, Nightstick, has been used several times. Most will recognize him as Nightstick, partner of the Decepticon Cyclonus. It was also released in crazy translucent green color as Vector Oracle in Japan as a Micron campaign exclusive. The Micron on the right, Sparks, was first released in the Power Core Combiner line alongside Leadfoot. He was also recolored and released as a free giveaway at Toys 'R Us Japan stores when the Arms Micron series was just kicking off.

Both figures feature new color schemes exclusive to this release. However the are basically color swaps from their other releases.

Probably the best Targetmaster Micron mold, I'm really glad this release lacks the silver chrome plating that the Henkei! Henkei! version (left) featured.  No alterations were made to the mold itself.

While I prefer the other Micron's gun mode, this is one of the best looking robot modes of all the Microns released to date. I love the overall sculpt and the articulation. Left is the Toys 'R Us Japan exclusive Firebolt. Artfire's partner features a high gloss on the black pieces and I just don't care for it. I much prefer the flat black that Firebolt has.

If you own the Million Publishing version of Stepper then you simply must find away to add Artfire to your collection. While I think I actually prefer Stepper when it comes to these two (superior mold IMO), Artfire is a great piece despite the higher price tag. At the time of this post TFSource actually his Artfire on clearance! Unless I win the lottery this is the only way I'll ever own either of these two characters so I'm glad I have them both proudly on display.