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  1. #1361
    Picked this mofo up at TRU yesterday:

    Transformers Classics Astrotrain - fun but not up to the "Classics" level and falls short of the G1 original. Colors are a major problem here, the white plastic used once again washes out all the sculpted details, while the purple and red stripes feel very out of place like straight out of the 1970s, the bot ends up bland rather than threatening. Shuttle mode is pretty nifty, I can almost forgive the bullet train halves on the sides - if the colors lined up better it would have worked - but I don't like the train wheels and bot chest on the upper back; the shuttle's tail is far too small as well, and I don't like the permanently-deployed landing gear under the wings, though at least the nose wheel folds up some. I know this is heresy, but I would have preferred the rubsign be moved from its G1 location in the top of the cargo bay door to one of the wings. Train mode is abysmal and is the element that hurts the set the most, the transformation to it is trying to be more clever than it is but the end result is a gappy, ugly bullet train that I feel safe in saying is the worst Transformer train I've ever seen - even over Energon Omega Supreme's crane train. Why would a bullet train be so hard to get out of a space shuttle when they're not shaped all that differently??? They should have gone for a modern US train engine instead, it would have been more impressive even if they failed. G1 Astrotrain worked so well in part because of how little his shuttle mode suffered from his train mode and vice-versa, this Classics version fails miserably in both regards.

    Transformation to bot mode from shuttle mode is simple, if not for the various little things it'd be downright boring. Bot mode has ok articulation with a ball-jointed head that can look upright (although the loose panel behind it often just lets the head partly transform back in), ball-jointed shoulders on vertical hinges (both loose), ball-jointed elbows that are limited in turning range, side-hinged hips with front-hinged upper thighs pretending to be hips, hinged knees, and rotating boots - I really wish there was more range of motion in the arms, a rotating mid-thigh, and waist articulation, with them he feels limited and plain. Astrotrain's head sculpt doesn't work for me, the original has a tough look but the designers went to the cartoon head and shrunk the face so he just looks like a plain, expressionless dimwit. The body is alright, not much new detail revealed and what little sculpted detailing is new gets lost in the white plastic. The wings on the chest are small and floppy and make me kinda cheesed off - they have no character, the paint looks awful, and they flop about. The kibble on the forearms has nothing to lock it into place so it often gets in the way. I don't like the long boots-short thighs situation and they work poorly with the articulation provided. The rifle is purple with a (non-moving) shotgun-style slide underneath, scope, and diagonally-cut aft which accomodates the low fists; the rifle also can peg flat under the shuttle or on top of the train. The end result is that he doesn't have many poses and feels very static, which sucks because he has a cool rifle that deserves better. He's a bland figure who is neither menacing nor cool but isn't exactly awful, just not good enough; at least with his nose wheel halves folded down he has long heelspurs that keep him well-balanced.

    Ultimately, this is another Classics Decepticon figure that almost gets the update right but fumbles at the 20, Astrotrain isn't awful but definitely doesn't measure up to modern quality or his G1 namesake. Grade: C+
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  2. #1362
    Not too long ago, I posted at length my thoughts on Cybertron as a line. But, I figure this is as good a time as any to post on "the state of the hobby", and wager that there will be more posts like this in the next year or so, leading up to the movie.

    Sooo.....where are we?
    Personally, I am backing off for a bit. After the QC and distribution on Cybertron (there are toys from that line I still have not seen locally), I am burned out on the collecting aspect of the hobby.
    I have been into TF for most of the 20+ years the franchise has been in the US. The only two breaks I took were at the end of G1, and then G2. In both cases, the reason was the same, the franchise seemed to be dying. There was no cartoon to speak of, unless one counts reruns of old episodes. The comic had been cancelled (in both cases of well written runs). And, the toy-line was visibly fizzline. (Lest anyone think I dislike ActionMasters, CyberJets and GoBots, do not take this the wrong way. Those are all fine toys, but none of them should be carrying a line.)
    In a way, the current state of the hobby reflects that. With the end of the AEC trilogy, there will not be a cartoon for at least a year. What we are getting for comics is pretty shabby. IDW's offerings are averaging in at "mediocre if you are lucky", and the Convention/Club comics are just awful.
    There have always been lackluster story offerings to be found. But, in the last year, I have seen comics so bad that I was not only uninspired to look for toys, but was actually convinced I did not like certain toys. In some cases, I got rid of toys I already owned. The Club comic is the worst offender in this regard, as it seems determined to shoehorn in every toy into the most sub-literate context ever. The few good comics that have come out in the last 4 years or so seem to be the yield of the "million monkeys at a million type-writers" principle, in that so many comics are coming out now that the law of averages demands some of them have to be good. The cartoons are pretty bad, and lack even the occasional stand-out episode that justifies the standing G1 and BW enjoy.
    And....the toys...... In addition to the QC and distribution issues I have mentioned elsewhere, and the Con/Club comics seemingly determined to put even obscure toys into a context that insults the intelligence of any literate adult, the toys come across as place holders. Hasbro has said that "Classics" is functionally a place holder for the movie. Even the execution of the line seems to be rather "hold the phone" from Hasbro. Hasbro is just folding tail-end Cybertron (Minicon packs) into Classics, despite the fact that Minicons make no sense as part of Classics. (And, yes, I like Minicons, thouygh they have no place in Classics.)
    The line is being carried by place-holders that are not likely to have context beyond the awful fannish comics we get from the convention organizers. The only toys that seem immune from this are SWTF toys, which are problematic by virtue of the fact that they are a bad idea done badly. (Honestly, if the two lines were not made by the same company, people would likely view these as "Megamorphs" or something similar.)
    For some reason, I have a hard-time being excited by this. Yeah, there may be some good Classics toys, but......... There were objectively some good Action Masters.
    I am not saying that I am getting out of TF. If nothing else, at the ends of G1 and G2, it looked like the franchise was dying.
    Now, it just seems stalled.
    There are still comics being published. For now, I will pick those up, and hope to get one written by a lucky monkey. In terms of toys, there are a few pieces I skipped over the last few years that I may go back for.
    All told though, I plan on sitting out things for the next year or so.
    The rest of you?
    Dom
    -plans to save a fair amount of money if nothing else.

  3. #1363
    I just had a thought.

    I'd love to see some quality animation of Optimus Prime facing down Nemesis Prime, using the dialogue from Mystery Men about "Nemesises? Nemesii?" "Nemeses."
    Tommy, close your eyes.

  4. #1364
    I heard this in my Transformers group and will post it in the movie thread as well:

    Don Murphy has confirmed that Megatron's head / face will be changed from the early graphics we've seen (and all complained about)!

    A slight hope that fan-pressure has been working?

    UPDATE: On another note I got my bill for MPE 03 Starscream from Japan: $97.12 after all charges s&h, etc. That's not so bad really. Prime was originally $70 at retail and now he's about $10 more with his voice chip packaging? Most of my extra cost is likely due to shipping from Japan (or at least $10-12 of it).

    It was shipped to me 6 days ago, but they warned that it could take as long as 45 days to get here since I didn't spring for any fast delivery service (don't you think I've paid enough for Starscream already?)

    I suppose that my next update about Screamer will be when he arrives. I can't wait for that!
    BAD Pts Need: R5-C7 lf leg (x2), , R4-P44 right leg BAD Pts Offered For Trade: PM me - I have lots of parts now including BG-J38!. New Kyle Katarn is also available.

  5. #1365
    Prime is still $70 from what I've heard.

    Congrats on Starscream, let us know when he gets there.

    I bet Hasbro is freaking out and the Movie Megatron toy will come out with the old face, maybe have a running change like Energon Prime (he first shipped with a stupid smiling mouth cut into his mouthplate).
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  6. #1366
    Don't they still have enough "lead-time" to adjust their Megatron toy mold?

    I don't have high hopes for the movie toys anyway. They'll have to be cheap enough and simple enough for the mass-market from kids to casual buyers.

    That's why I collect Alternators and MPEs. Thanks for the congrats, JT. Let's hope Starscream is of the great quality that line is reputed for. He may be slightly smaller than I wanted, but I've seen some great pictures and heard good things lately. Not all my questions (about plastic sturdiness, etc) have been answered though. I'd say he is my largest gamble I've made on a purchase in recent history. I mostly know what I am buying when I buy it. (This cost more than SideShow's figures).

    [UPDATE]: I just read the Botcon Q&A and Hasbro's answers. Megatron as a Cadillac XLR??? That would have been another I'd pass on. How sucky would that have been? (I have nothing against the Cadillac, but Megatron should be a very large vehicle - so I'll wait for a MPE).
    BAD Pts Need: R5-C7 lf leg (x2), , R4-P44 right leg BAD Pts Offered For Trade: PM me - I have lots of parts now including BG-J38!. New Kyle Katarn is also available.

  7. #1367
    Galaxy Force Optimus Prime

    This mold appealled to me from the begining of the line. But, initially, the cost deterred me, and by the time my finances stabilized, it was late enough in the line that I figured it would be worth waiting to see if there would be a recolor. And, it is good that I waited.

    While this is not a perfect recolor, the good generally out-weighs the bad. The parts that were blue on the original toy are now black, and planet sigils have been added to the shoulders of the bot (sides of the truck). Unlike the original, the key on this toy is actually painted, with a spiffy as all get out multi-hued reflecive sigil. The gimmicks the key unlocks are both solid enough in engineering terms, but are nothing to be overly excited about. (As an aside, Optimus Prime's key gimmicks are both in a removeable piece, similar to a number of basics such as Hardtop.) The transform is intricate, but sifferes from large chunks of kibble (the back of the truck) floating idly if one does not build the larger robot. the engineering on the head and face plate is simple, but very well executed.

    Of course, no toy is perfect. There are visible mix-lines in the red of the robot body. (I am not sure if this is the same type of plastic used on the original, as I have only fiddled with the original a few times over the last year.) For a Leader Class toy, mix lines are especially troubling. Along similar lines, the robot face could have done with another application of paint (namely silver around the mouth). From an engineering stand-point, there are two major flaws. One is the "jet" mode. This thing looks like a fan-mode that would be mocked on-line. In fact, I have seem more convincing fan-modes on other toys. And, in truck mode, the (removeable) Matrix is more or less visible. Having a leader make a sacred relic visible does not quite make sense.

    The character profile on the packaging is well-written enough in that it assumes an ending to the AEC trilogy, and actually justifies the incongrously (in context) armed form Optimus has kept. Oddly, the packaging has an Earth sigil, in Gigalonian colors. Why the leader of an inter-planetary Empire would be alligned with a peripheral planet, rather than the throne world (Cybertron itself) is a mystery to me.

    Grade: B A solid offering and worth looking at, but it may not be worth getting this toy (for reasons of size and cost) if you already have the mold.

    Dom
    -only two more to go..........

  8. #1368
    Quote Originally Posted by Tycho View Post
    Don't they still have enough "lead-time" to adjust their Megatron toy mold?
    Probably not, my guess is that the tooling is already done and probably has run a few times, they had Star Wars Ep 1 toys filling up shipping containers in November of '98 even though they weren't due to hit stores until May of the following year, my guess is Megs is on a similar release schedule and has already been shot, they'll either do a running change or more likely they'll do what they did with Beast Machines - they released the first versions of the figures as-is even though they were WAY off-model from the show, then a few waves later started releasing new versions with more accurate designs.

    I don't have high hopes for the movie toys anyway. They'll have to be cheap enough and simple enough for the mass-market from kids to casual buyers.
    My guess is they'll follow the current pricing trend - basic, deluxe, mega, ultra, super ($7, $10, $20, $25, $40).

    That's why I collect Alternators and MPEs. Thanks for the congrats, JT. Let's hope Starscream is of the great quality that line is reputed for. He may be slightly smaller than I wanted, but I've seen some great pictures and heard good things lately. Not all my questions (about plastic sturdiness, etc) have been answered though. I'd say he is my largest gamble I've made on a purchase in recent history. I mostly know what I am buying when I buy it. (This cost more than SideShow's figures).
    If you don't love it and it's still in original condition, I'm quite confident you'll be able to sell it on ebay for at least 75% of what you paid, so it's really only a gamble of at most $25 in that regard.

    [UPDATE]: I just read the Botcon Q&A and Hasbro's answers. Megatron as a Cadillac XLR??? That would have been another I'd pass on. How sucky would that have been? (I have nothing against the Cadillac, but Megatron should be a very large vehicle - so I'll wait for a MPE).
    While it wouldn't have been ideal to get him as a car, if it had to be a car that would be a good car for him - it's gray, large yet sporty and menacing, and very angular.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dom
    The transform is intricate, but sifferes from large chunks of kibble (the back of the truck) floating idly if one does not build the larger robot. the engineering on the head and face plate is simple, but very well executed.
    Not exactly an original issue, nearly every Optimus Prime has faced it. The front is a truck by itself and the back is a trailer attachment, and the trailer at least turns into a weapons emplacement - not a base, but close enough for me.

    Of course, no toy is perfect. There are visible mix-lines in the red of the robot body. (I am not sure if this is the same type of plastic used on the original, as I have only fiddled with the original a few times over the last year.) For a Leader Class toy, mix lines are especially troubling.
    I have not noticed mixing swirls and whatnot on the original, but I just checked and there are a few subtle ones. I can't think of a toy that used this kind of plastic that didn't suffer this though.

    Along similar lines, the robot face could have done with another application of paint (namely silver around the mouth)
    Are you saying it's totally black under the facemask? That's not the case on the original version.

    One is the "jet" mode. This thing looks like a fan-mode that would be mocked on-line.
    Heh heh, poor Archer, this was his main intention with the figure, a flying Optimus. I don't think it looks that bad m'self, but definitely always use the Japanese instructions so the wings end up on top and the guns sit either on the back or under his arms.


    Anyway, glad you got this OP mold, it's one of my favorites of all time.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  9. #1369
    Transformers Classics Astrotrain - fun but not up to the "Classics" level and falls short of the G1 original.
    NOW we are at odds JT.

    I mean, really? falls short of the original? I'm willing to debate whether it lives up to current CLASSICS standards, with what I consider to be the most awesomest version of most of the figures to date, but falls short of the original? It's an improvement on the original, at least. And maybe different color combinations could have gone a long way to making it better still, but it moves, it jumps, it swings from branches.

    It's flipping awesome. Its fun. and Even thought it's not perfect, it AT LEAST deserves a B. C+? Really?
    All Hail Darth Schmitsky!

  10. #1370
    Alternators must start with an "A" for a reason
    BAD Pts Need: R5-C7 lf leg (x2), , R4-P44 right leg BAD Pts Offered For Trade: PM me - I have lots of parts now including BG-J38!. New Kyle Katarn is also available.

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