Thursday, February 28, 2013

#10: Transformers Generations - Fall of Cybertron Grimlock

One of the early selling points for Fall of Cyberton is that the game allowed the player to control Grimlock. The Grimlock sections of the game are pretty fun, partly because in dinosaur mode, Grimlock is nearly invincible and can breathe fire as well as stomping or biting enemies. Grimlock is a pretty popular character (he turns into a robot tyrannosaur, so of course he is!), so it's a pretty easy bet that he'll get a new toy whenever he shows up in fiction. It would be cool if they made the rest of the Dinobots as well, but there don't seem to be any plans for them.

So, about the dinosaur mode. It's kind of problematic. First off, the tail is way too wide. In the game, it's a longer, thinner segmented tail. Due to reality, that didn't work for the toy, and what we got isn't the most elegant tail that Grimlock has had. You can't really tell in the first photo, but the above photo shows that Grimlock's underside is mostly hollow. The transformations process is pretty similar to most previous Grimlock toys, although tucking the legs into the body for dinosaur mode is kind of glossed over in the instructions. One interesting aspect of his transformation is that the head folds into the back instead of just hanging there. That big open space on the dinosaur's underside is the back of the robot mode, so I guess it serves the purpose of giving the dinosaur head somewhere to go.

Fortunately, robot mode is pretty cool. In the game, he uses a sword and shield, which are included here. The sword is a bit undersized, but they're both made from translucent red plastic and look cool. They can plug into the legs in dinosaur mode, but that just looks goofy. There's also a light up feature for Grimlock. In bot mode, it lights up his chest. In dinosaur mode, it lights up his eyes and mouth. He'll definitely be staying in bot mode.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

#9: Hot Wheels - Mars Rover Curiosity

Once again, the grocery store comes through as a spot to find rare Hot Wheels toys. I'd been keeping an eye out for the Curiosity toy, but having no luck finding one. The other day, I happened to walk by a Hot Wheels display at the grocery store and Curiosity was sitting right in the front of one of the display sections. I looked, and it was the only one in the entire display. Curiosity has some interesting construction in that the bottom part is made of clear plastic. Since the real Curiosity has the thin spindly legs, this is a good way of representing them without making the toy too fragile. There is some detail painted on the sides, but the top is completely white, which looks kind of plain. The NASA logo is on the front of the rover. The camera arm can be rotated. Aside from the wheels, I don't think many Hot Wheels cars have moving parts, so that makes things a little more interesting.


Monday, February 25, 2013

#8: Transformers Prime - Beast Hunters Optimus Prime

The third season of Transformers Prime is coming up, and already some of the toys are available. I never picked up the Classics Optimus, and ever since I've been itching for a voyager sized (non-movie) version of him. I thought about getting the first Prime version, but it really bugged me that the part of his torso below the windshields was grey instead of red. But this version has wings! And a big sword with a translucent green blade! I also think this is the first Optimus with green windows. I'm not sure why they're green, aside from matching the sword, but it's an interesting look and I dig it. The two rocket boosters can also be used as handheld rocket launchers. The instructions show them both being held by the same hand (on either side of the fist), but if Optimus has one in each hand, the sword can stow on his back.

On a bit of a tangent, the prices of Transformers toys is kind of weird. The deluxe figures have been getting more expensive and getting smaller. Meanwhile, voyager figures have been able to remain fairly consistent in price. In fact, the price difference between deluxes and voyagers at my local Target is only $3.50. That's crazy! If voyagers had increased in price at the same rate as deluxes, they would cost around $35 now. I'm not sure how to explain it, but it really does make voyager figures seem like a much better value when they're so much larger for only a small difference in price.

This version of Optimus has, for me, an interesting transformation scheme. Instead of the arms folding up into the cab like every other version of Optimus I've had, they just kind of fold back along with the legs to form the back end of the vehicle mode. So the vehicle mode is a truck sort of thing, rather than the typical trailer truck. I do like the way the wings stick up a bit in the back, it's kind of like having tail fins from 50s cars.

Comparison with Classics Optimus, courtesy of my roommate's collection.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

#7: G.I. Joe Retaliation - Battle-kata Roadblock

Finally, G.I. Joe toys are back in toy aisles! The Rock as Roadblock has been one of my most wanted movie figures for a while. Unfortunately, the first version didn't have a great likeness and was hampered by a sculpted on piece of plastic on his hand so that he could plug into the giant gun he came with. Now with the Retaliation figures relaunch, later waves are in stores, along with an improved Roadblock. The likeness on this version is way better. Because everyone gets to be a ninja now, apparently, Roadblock has an Arashikage clan tattoo on his arm.

Apparently, battle-kata is a system of weapons with swappable parts which plug into handles. The handles can be plugged into pistols, small knives, larger knives, and a baton. Each piece has a spot to be stowed on Roadblock's vest. Having swappable handles to one's weapons seems like an odd idea. I don't know if I'd want to use a knife if the handle was easily removable, that seems like it could be asking for trouble. Hopefully it will seem cooler in the movie. There's also the big machine gun with detachable stand.

I'm not a wrestling fan, so I can't say why exactly I find it so appealing to have an action figure based on The Rock. Part of the fun of movie based figures is having figures with the likeness of real people, of course, so I suppose that is it. It certainly helps when the likeness is so good.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

#6: G.I. Joe - Edwin "Lifeline" Steen

G.I. Joe had two medics, Doc and Lifeline. Did Cobra have any? I think the closest they had was Dr Mindbender. I didn't have the Doc figure as a kid, and the most recent version was a mail away figure that I didn't get. As a kid, I did have Lifeline, but the most recent version was in one of the waves that was difficult to find in stores. Thanks to the snafu with the new Joe movie's release date, Joe toys have been missing from shelves for a few months until very recently. While waiting for the return of Joes to the toy aisles, I found myself on Ebay trying to get a Lifeline figure. On one of my auctions, I was outbid, but the winner backed out, so I was able to get this one. I'm assuming some, if not all, his body parts are re-used, but it is a very good update to the original.

One of the main things that impressed me about the Lifeline figure is the amount of accessories. Lately, Joe figures have been pretty crazy with the amount of accessories that are included with the figure, and Lifeline is surely on the higher end of that scale. The largest accessory that is included is a backboard for transporting wounded, which has a strap to hold the person down. There is a medical case with defibrillator pads which can be held in two notches. There's also a bag of saline solution which has a spot in the case. The saline bag can plug into an IV cord which attaches to a figure's arm. For keeping your figures oxygenated, there is a face mask with attached oxygen tank. Lifeline's helmet is also removable. For weaponry (I though medics weren't supposed to take part in combat, but the Joe world has its own rules, clearly), there's a machine gun, a pistol, a knife, and what I think is meant to be a pistol shaped syringe.

"Ready for your shots, Anakin?"
This Anakin is my go to figure for someone in need of medical assistance.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

#5: Transformers Generations - Soundwave (Fall of Cybertron)

Before I even played Fall of Cybertron, I wanted to pick up this version of Soundwave. I had passed on the previous version from War for Cybertron, which was a deluxe sized figure, but the addition of a minion which can be stored in his chest (and upgrade to voyager size) was enough of an incentive for me. I quite like the design of Soundwave in this version. It's got a very clear connection to his G1 appearance, and it doesn't go too far in the direction of weird spikiness that a lot of newer designs have.  He's also really tall, which is a nice change from a lot of the downsizing that Transformers toys seem to be suffering from recently. Soundwave includes the traditional shoulder cannon, which can also be held in one of the hands. The packaging shows a different blaster that was planned for inclusion but unfortunately never made it to production. So that might be a bit confusing if you buy it and wonder where the second weapon is.

As I mentioned earlier, this Soundwave includes Laserbeak, who can fold up and fit inside his chest. Since cassettes are out, Soundwaves minions turn into data disks. There is a cool auto-transforming gimmick where you drop it, causing a button to be compressed which flips the disk out into Laserbeak. There is a play feature where you put Laserbeak into Soundwave's chest, then push a button to eject him, and then the auto-transform feature kicks into effect. Unfortunately, the fit is too tight, so Laserbeak won't eject properly. It's actually pretty hard to get Laserbeak back out of the chest.

Soundwave's altmode is a communications truck, because there are no tape players on Cybertron. It's pretty cool looking and is fairly sizable as well. It's well engineered in that all four wheels touch the ground without something on the undercarriage scraping along the ground as well, which is always a plus. The shoulder cannon mounts on top of the roof, and there is even a seat for a gunner up there. The seat wasn't on the previous version of the figure, so I wonder where it comes from. I'm not sure who it's meant for, since this is a Cybertronian mode, so there weren't any passengers.

Official word is that the War for/Fall of Cybertron games are in the same continuity as the cartoon Transformers Prime. So both of these figures are the same character. Soundwave sure lost a lot of weight when he got to Earth!
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