Sunday, September 30, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
As I mentioned in the last post, I came across something wonderful at the Comic Collection. That something wonderful was Robots In Disguise Optimus Prime (aka Fire Convoy). Now the last Transformers series I really got into was Beast Wars, and after that My interest declined a bit to the point where I didn't watch the shows and just sporadically picked up a figure here and there. Only since my obsession's been rekindled have I realized what I missed out on, and Fire Convoy was on the top of that list. I'm always scouting around online for it, but the cheapest I could find the toy was $50 on ebay, and most of the time it'd be more and it'd be used. Today was different, though.
Yesterday, I walked into the Comic Collection and headed towards the glass case in the back. I noticed a Robots In Disguise style box that I missed last time, obscured by open G1 figures in plastic baggies. With some help from one of the guys that runs the place, I managed to find RID Optimus Prime MIB for only $30.
Besides being the catch of the day, I'd have to say this toy is one of my favorites. I like the idea of Prime as a fire truck, because it goes along with the themes of saving lives and fighting for good better than a tractor trailer. The Fire truck mode is nice, with a swiveling/extending ladder, flip out nozzles and missile launchers, and working sirens with lights, sounds, and voice clips. My only complaint, and this is really minor, is that the truck's cab is very easily detached from the ladder portion, and can easily detach during play. Interestingly enough, the front, driver's side part of the cab has some Japanese characters with the word "cybertron" below. The wheels are all chrome coated, and it looks much better than the standard grey plastic that's more commonly used.
For those unfamiliar with this iteration of Optimus Prime, The front portion of the fire truck transforms to become Optimus Prime's robot mode, and from there he can combine with parts of the truck for extra weapons and armor, or the entire thing can combine to form Super Optimus Prime, or Super Fire Convoy. So technically he has something like 5 modes: Fire engine, Optimus Prime, battle station + Prime, Prime w/ missile launchers/bigger hands, and Super Optimus Prime. As an added bonus, he can also combine with RID Ultra Magnus to form Ultra Optimus Prime, a truly enormous figure.
I love the more modern, simplistic design of Prime's regular robot mode, especially the "wings" that are formed by the siren lights. His chest is panted with a metallic, chrome-like coating, and it definitely adds a lot of style to the figure and makes it look like a more quality piece than matte paint would have. Prime's very poseable in this mode, allowing for some nice display possibilities. My only complaint here is that while Optimus Prime usually has some sort of rifle/cannon as a primary weapon, this version has a comparatively dinky pistol. Granted he can also have shoulder mounted rockets and hand mounted lasers, not to mention the array of arms on his ladder, but it just doesn't feel right without a mean, hand-held cannon.
In "Super" mode Prime is huge. God Fire Convoy, as he's called in Japan, is a monster. He's not quite as huge as Armada's Super Optimus Prime, but he's much, much nicer to look at, and unlike the latter is not a total brick. Super Fire Convoy is red...very red. Almost entirely so, with some orange, black, and silver highlights. He's pretty poseable for a figure of his size, but since alot of the pieces (ie: head, feet, and arms) snap onto pegs, there's always a little risk of instability when posing him. Also, his head sculpt is nicely detailed, but I feel like they skimped on the paint. It just feels a little lackluster for a figure that big to have a head that's almost entirely red, molded plastic.I didn't bother with the "base" transformation mode, in which the ladder and back end of the truck become a weapons base, and prime stands at it...I don't know, I've just never been a fan of the gimmick in which trailers transform into bases. It worked with G1 Prime, but with figures like this and G2 Laserrod Optimus Prime, you can tell they just tried to justify the trailer with some gimmicky features. Thankfully this figure continued the trend of combining with the trailer that started with G1 Ultra Magnus.
So I'm definitely in love with Robots In Disguise Optimus Prime/Fire Convoy, and now I'll have to hunt down RID Ultra Magnus to complete the package...and one of those Sam's club exclusive yellow Prime variants would be nice
As usual, click the link below for the image gallery.
So bringing back some old toys was nice, but it was just to hold me over until I could get my hands on some new and exciting figures. As luck would have it I'd get my hands on one of my top most wanted transformers.
On Sunday, I really wanted to take a trip to The House of Fun in Marlton, NJ, but they're closed until Tuesday. Instead, the fiancee and I made a last minute decision to travel up towards my old house again for a bridal expo. On the way, we stopped at The Comic Collection, a tiny comic/toy shop i used to frequent. I mainly wanted to stop because I had a couple bucks to spend and thought I remembered seeing some G2 Spychangers there a while back. No dice on the spychangers, but I found something that was much more satisfying. I'll be posting a full review of this most important acquisition next.
Also, on the way back to Philly, we stopped at a Wal*Mart so I could run in and pick up a Cybertron Excellion that I'd spotted a few days earlier, and I couldn't resist getting Cybertron Dark Crumplezone as well.
So all in all, Sunday provided my biggest and most exciting haul in a while. Made my weekend, and definitely made up for not being able to get to The House of Fun.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Powermaster Doubledealer and I have a long history together. Doubledealer's long been my favorite Transformer, dating back to when I got him as a child. In fact, Doubledealer was instrumental in my oldest embarrassing memory. I was but a toddler in my pediatrician's office, and I brought Doubledealer along for the ride. I transformed him into his Deceptcon Bird mode, and exclaimed to y mom, "look he has testicles!" I of course meant tentacles, and I was referring to the scrawny purple bird legs. Nevertheless, my mother quickly and shamefully corrected me in the middle of the crowded office.
Back to the toy. Doubledealer is a part of the G1 Powermasters line, whose gimmick was mini figures that transformed into engines and unlocked the transformation of the larger figure. Doubledealer is actually both an Autobot and a Decepticon, with two distinct modes to differentiate them. His alternate mode, a military missile launcher, is one of the nicest looking of the G1 era, with nice colors and a ridiculously solid build. Like I said, this toy's been with me forever, and he's still in mint shape with the exception of sticker wear. With Knok, Doubledealer's Autobot companion, locked into his abdomen, Doubledealer transforms into his Autobot robot mode. For the most part, the robot mode is a brick, with the legs only being able to bend outward at the hips and rotate at the knees, and his arms can only bend at the elbow. Doubledealer has a chest piece that can be used to hold one of the mini figures at his chest (which is the only part I've lost track of). The giant missile forms his armament by breaking into 2 and becoming his rifle and a shoulder-mounted-non-launching, missile. I've always been fond of Doubledealer's head sculpt, and while his robot mode is somewhat bricky, it's still a great design and a great display piece.
Doubledealer's Decepticon mode is essentially just his vehicle mode flipped over, with the side panels folding down to become bird legs, and a back panel opening to reveal its head and wings. While it's simple enough, the bird mode is also a great design (it could use back legs though). Again, I love the head sculpt and the colors used, and Skar makes a nice companion to this solid design.
All in all, There have been great advancements in design and poseability since this figure, and there are plenty of other classic characters, but Doubledealer will always be a favorite of mine. I'd definitely recommend seeking this toy out for any fans of the G1 lines.
Monday, September 10, 2007
I spotted a treasure trove of knock-off G1 combiners at Walgreens the other day. They had all the G1 combiners in their correct color schemes and scales, and for $5.99, I couldn't hep going back and picking up an imitation Devastator. Actually it was borderline embarrassing, because all the toys were being stored 8 feet off the ground, in the overstock section, to make room for the Halloween stuff. I'm a mere 5'10", so I had to ask for assistance, and was greeted by the monstrously tall Mr. Cosby, who had to cherry pick my selections until I decided to stick with Devastator alone. The set included all 6 fake constructicons for $5.99, essentially $1 per figure, but they were all factory-priced at "buy 2 get 1 free" at $11.98. I thought I'd see how Devastator worked out before potentially blowing another $6 on trash.
Basically, this is a pretty decent knock-off of the original. Unlike the original constructicon set, these guys are all fashioned out of the cheapest plastic you can imagine. All of the stickers are generic, brightly colored, and uninteresting, with the exception of a modified decepticons logo on Bull Dozer (Bonecrusher). The weak plastic makes transforming the figures a delicate operation, straining the toys' structure and my patience. Other than the expected shoddy quality, the figures look surprisingly good in their vehicle modes. The robot modes were less impressive, simply because some of them were impossible to fully transform without breaking, and a total lack of poseability made standing them nearly impossible. Also, for some reason, about half of the figures had their hands reversed (right hand on left arm) or their hands on upside down, but since they couldn't rotate, they couldn't hold their weapons.
I never owned a G1 Devastator, so I had little knowledge as to how these KO Constructicons were supposed to combine, and with the diagrams printed on the back of the box being so small and blurry, I pretty much had to wing it. I only now realized that I mistransformed Devastator a little bit by placing his chest plate a peg higher than it should be. I've corrected it, but the pictures in the gallery still need to be updated. Once I guessed my way through the process, KO Devastator, or "Ghettostator," as I like to call him is a solid facsimilie for his legit namesake. I think I'll check out Reprolabels for a set of correct decals to redeco him. I'm not trying to fool anyone, but it'd be nice if he had some decent stickers. My biggest complaint is how unstable the finished product is. I'm assuming it's because he's a $6 knock-off, but it's pretty hard to get standing. Oh, wait, that's definitely not my biggest complaint...that would have to be the fact that I had to whittle down the peg that connects the Hook arm with a Dremel before I could get it to fit in its assigned slot. Other than that, there are a few little things like the hole for his right fist not being totally drilled out, etc.
All in all, $6 for a cheapo Devastator was $6 well spent. Someday I'll pick up a complete G1 Constructicon Giftset, but until then, I've got Ghettostator to keep the bench warm, and after he gets some authentic decals he'll look pretty nice.
For shots of the knock-off Constructicons and Devastator and some comparisons with the recent Classics Devastator, check out the album .
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Image Gallery for Music Label Soundwave, Rumble, and Frenzy
I want to put together galleries of my figures, so I started tonight with Music Label Soundwave, and the companion Rumble and Frenzy headphones. With the exception of the Convoy iPod Dock, I love the direction Takara has taken with the Music Label series. In keeping with the times, Takara redesigned Soundwave as a fully functioning MP3 player that runs on Mini SD memory cards. The figure is available in Spark Blue and Sonic White, however I chose the blue variant for it's obvious homage to the original G1 design. Stylistically, Soundwave stays very true to his original design, with his chest opening to store his memory, and his controls are located on his waist. I like the fact that his shoulder cannon plugs into the headphone port on his shoulder, which makes sense for him to use the audio waves as a weapon. Speaking of, he also comes with his traditional hand-held weapon, though this time around there's no firing projectile. Interestingly enough, Soundwave's weapons are printed with their names, and his hand held gun is mislabled "wave bluster" instead of "wave buster." Also, the figure comes with two sets of hands, one with his index finger extended for use as a trigger finger or to push his eject button, and a set of closed fists.
What makes this figure is the fact that it is fully functional, however it's the most barebones MP3 player you can imagine. There's no menu interface or display of any kind, so your songs are played in whatever order you put them on your card, and you have to go through them all to skip ahead. The volume controls are also on the weak side, with big gaps between the incremental volume levels. Structurally, Soundwave is pretty solid in his alternate mode, but since he's all plastic, I can't imagine him taking any real world abuse the way an iPod or other MP3 player might. In the end, the MP3 function is a great feature, and creates the possibility of plugging Soundwave into a stereo or wireless speaker system and playing some G1 voice clips from his memory, but it's more of a novelty than a worthwhile choice for an MP3 player.
Released alongside Soundwave were Music Label Rumble and Frenzy, who have been redesigned as a pair of headphones. Like Soundwave, these are functional headphones, but as you can imagine the sound quality is less than spectacular. Also, the transformations on these guys are simpler than most minicons. I like the idea in place, but the execution wasn't nearly as impressive as the Soundwave figure. For clip-on style headphones these are a little bulky, but it's understandable considering there has to be enough mass to conceal the robot parts. The Alt modes aren't seamless, and you can definitely tell there are moving parts, and once transformed they don't have a whole lot of poseability to work with. On their own, Rumble and Frenzy are a good idea with a mediocre execution, but partnered with Soundwave, they make for a pretty solid team, and the concept carries over very well.
In the end, Music Label Soundwave, Rumble and Frenzy are great figures, but I'd definitely say that most of their value lies in their displayability. The set looks awesome displayed together, and It's nice to have a line geared more towards adult collectors with some thoughtful features thrown in.
Image Gallery for Music Label Soundwave, Rumble, and Frenzy
Friday, September 7, 2007
Aside from Transformers, my other plasticky passion revolves around designer toys. I've been a big fan of artist Mars-1 for awhile now, and I even met him and got him to sign my figures when he had a show at Lineage Gallery here in Philly. That said, I'm thrilled to see he's finally working on a new piece which is near completion. Smokestack is a larger (9") version of one of the figures released as a part of the Invisible Plan set of mini figures. The piece is said to come with an assortment of accessories when it launches in the near future. It's probably going to be pretty limited, so here's to hoping I can snag one.
Image and info courtesy of Vinylpulse.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Someone has created an actual transforming cellphone out of a MOTOROKR E6 dummy. The phone is an amazing custom and makes for a damn fine real Real Gear Transformer.
For more pictures visit http://www.gearfuse.com/motorola-motorokr-transformer-hack-turns-your-e6-into-a-cultural-masterpiece/
I'm a sucker for small japanese toys and knick-knacks, especially when they tie in with other interests of mine, which is why I'm all over this set. It's a 3-piece miniature Candy Toy set featuring Energon Optimus Prime, his combiner parts, and Megatron.
If I wasn't completely broke right now I'd have already ordered it. $20 is a small price for so much awesome.