Aside from Frenzy, I like all of those toys. I think Brawl was initially Bonecrusher. But, I have no idea about Wreckage.
As for the Minicons, I do not mind "Offshoot" as a name. "Dirtrocket", though, just sounds filthy.
My TF's haul for the day: Classics Ramjet from Target, Windcharger and Brawn keychains from WM (i already have G1 Jumper and Bee from way back)
Ramjet is not as nice as Classics Skywarp but still better than Classics Screamer. the retooled wings and missiles look pretty good though the paint apps, especially on the top stripes near the tail, have a bit of overspray on them. on the back of the package, it says there's a fold out landing gear in the nose region of the plane but it's not actually there on the toy.
anyhow, i think i'm pretty much done with TF's for the rest of the year, unless hasbro brings over those new takara beast wars toys that have been shown recently.
Offshoot as a name has never had much meaning I think by its misuse every time, but Dirtrocket doesn't work on any level.As for the Minicons, I do not mind "Offshoot" as a name. "Dirtrocket", though, just sounds filthy.
Turns out they're not new, just repaints of regular BW figs and the Robotmasters versions of the BW leaders. I fear I'm in the same boat as you over being close to done with TFs for '07. Oh, wait, I still have 6" Titanium TFs!anyhow, i think i'm pretty much done with TF's for the rest of the year, unless hasbro brings over those new takara beast wars toys that have been shown recently.
They both look like crap.
First, the thoughts on the "Battle for Autobot City" 2pack with Ultra Magnus and Skywarp. I'm going to start each in vehicle mode even though they're packed in bot mode (Magnus' kneecaps are packed untransformed though):
- Skywarp's silver and black look really good together, the orange canopy works surprisingly well too, but his purple plastic is too much red (except for the nosecone's purple which is a darker shade) and the purple paint color borders on being hot pink in places, it's a little hard to ignore after a moment especially since the original Skywarp's purple was nearly all blue -- still, overall the new colorscheme works well in alt mode and even minimizes the excessive undercarriage bot-kibble a little.
Transformation feels a little cheaper at the legs, feet, fists and shoulder plates, which aren't quite as smooth as Starscream's transformation.
Bot mode has a lot going for it, but a lot of that is the overly-light purple. Still, the black and silver look tremendous, the orange cockpit stands out more now, there's red paint detail inside the intake vents on the shoulders, and most importantly, the face has been painted silver and makes a world of difference from Starscream's milky plastic - opaque plastic makes so much of a difference on this figure it's pathetic they let Screamer out with that other trash. Skywarp's sporting red painted eyes, none of the ones I saw were perfect so watch for this. The joints feel as strong as Screamers' or better, with the exception of the transformation joints for the wrists which are loose and drop back in a little, it looks fine this way. On mine, the right missile launcher barely stays in the right shoulder but barely comes out of the fist or wing holes, my guess is the shoulder needs tightening.
Overall, Skywarp is a lot of improvements over what went wrong with the Starscream mold, and having another seeker is never bad even if he is pushing a hot pink look.
- Ultra Magnus' white, blue and silver is "just" a repaint of the Optimus Prime toy, but I say "just" because that's all he ever was as a toy - the Diaclone version is still Convoy just with a new color and trailer. The original Ultra Magnus was just white and silver in tractor mode, while the original Power Convoy he was taken from was blue and silver in tractor mode, and this Classics version blends them so that the lower half of the tractor is blue while the cab is mostly white with some silver and blue, and this works better than the all-white G1 cab (which I have, strangely). The white paint is well-applied; the white of the molded plastic is a little warmer than the white paint on the translucent plastic, and likewise the painted blue is darker than the molded (the molded blue being a few shades lighter than CL Prime's and a little mellower). The colorscheme works pretty well overall, though I would have liked the blue on the windvane to swoop into the blue at the back of the cab instead of being a stripe down the middle. The black pipes add nothing and detract nothing, take it or leave it. The supplementary paint apps are almost non-existant here, with just yellow details on some of the lights, bronze for the wheel hubs, and most importantly since it's something CL Prime doesn't have, silver for the grill and bumper which looks great where it us but is only at the front surface so there's white showing around the sides. The real downer is the lack of color of any sort around the headlights, in accent areas, etc.. With the windvane "hat" and pipes removed, Ultra Mag doesn't quite work as well as stripped Prime - it works ok but it feels emptier because the white shows off the crevasses more or something.
Transformation and assembly feel just as nice as Prime's, thankfully. The windvane hat is a little more snug in alt mode which is good as it keeps it a little closer to the cab's roof. The pipes gun can still come apart at the hinge to make 2 pistols even though this is still not an intended feature.
In bot mode, Hasbro made a big no-no in my book, because the head is on a blue plastic runner they left it blue and then painted it white, but this means getting the head out risks chipping the antennae, and because white is lighter than blue they had to apply a very heavy coat of it so it's a bit gloppy. Also, while the box pictures show the head sporting a black center to the crest, red light-piped eyes, and a blue facemask; the actual figure's eyes are the same dark blue lightpipe as Prime's, and has a silver facemask that isn't painted in the lower corners because they're on a different part (this gives the mask a T shape which does look different from Prime though). The shoulders sport 2 small Autobot logos which look like afterthoughts and totally out of place, it appears that they wanted to stick larger ones across more of the shoulder but tampographing them over the small dent in the middle killed that -- besides his rubsign, these are the only faction logos on Ultra Mag and they're hidden in alt mode. There are a few new painted details such as the yellow circles on the waist, the silver lower chest with faux-grille, and the blue v-shaped paint on the crotch which isn't all that neatly applied. There's zip on the kneecaps though and this really hurts the look. I thought the white & blue windvane-gun would look better than Prime's version, but it really doesn't; and with no paint on the pipes-gun, its best features are kind of lost in the black plastic. Strangely, the combined over-the-shoulder cannon gimmick looks better here than it does Prime.
Overall, an underwhelming repaint of an awesome mold, there's some homagery and it's still a fun figure but a little more care could have gone a long way. If they ever make a trailer/armor for this, I'd love to see it. As it is now, he does have just barely enough going on to be acceptable as another guy so I'm glad I got him with Skywarp but I probably wouldn't have bothered without.
CL Minicons wave 2 (strangely, 4 out of the 9 figures here sport 2 minicon powerlinx holes)
- Predator Team:
- - Overbite is a black robo-wolf with dark metallic purple accents and red eyes, plus a silver 'Con logo on his left side. The package photo has him assembled differently from the actual toy and the instructions, with the hips on the wrong sides which is impossible given how the tail is shown. Overbite has an ok sculpt at the head running back some, the lower set of vents been painted dark metallic purple the way the tops were and it would have added to the cohesion since they're actually separate parts but they didn't so they look separate. The sculpting is ok but not as nifty in the rest of the body, and the tail looks like a boot even though it's not. Beast articulation is found at the rear hips, rear knees, the tail can swing up, and the mid-body is a ball joint that can rotate around and drop down. The wolf's complete lack of articulation in the front body kills the beast mode, the pose of the front legs is so straight that it's awkward and makes other poses come out wonky.
Transformation is another variation on "stand up, you're a robot" seen a lot in Beast Wars - here the head splits to become the arms, the rear legs stand up, half of the rear feet fold over to become heels, and the waist rotates around, it'd be ok if the beast front legs didn't end up kibble sticking straight out his upper back a country mile.
Bot mode looks good from far but sucks up close. From the front he has stylized lines thanks to the arms and legs; his head is red with a white face and his stomach is white, the deco's not really the problem though. First, as mentioned, the beast forelegs are heavy kibble, and the tail just folds halfway up to almost match them. Then the arms have no real hands with the wolf head halves' mouths being closed and no detail at all on the underside. Also, from the side he's got thunder-thighs. But the biggest offense I think is the lack of a FACE!!! He's got a sculpted helmet around the face, but no eyes, no nose, no mouth painted or sculpted, that's crap! What is he, The Blank from Dick Tracy? Articulation is knees with limited backwards range, hips, a ball-jointed waist that can rotate or let the upper body tilt back, and ball-jointed shoulders in the middle of his torso so he can raise his arms and then cross one most of the way in front of his torso (one or the other, not both, they can meet but then they get in the way of each other). Despite the tiny feet, the figure can stand ok. It sounds like a lot of articulation but it adds up to not much.
- - Dreadwing's beast mode is a robo eagle, brown with light silvery-blue and red-orange, plus a purple 'Con logo at the top of the left wing. They really did a disservice by painting the head pure red-orange with nothing else, it sucks the detail right out of it. And the underside sports no deco at all. One of the widest minicons thanks to awkward feather extensions that rotate around to make the wingtips, but they're done so instead of flowing with the wing's top curve they go against it and are on a separate level, it looks bad. There are lots of sculpted lines, but not much tight detail except at the legs on the underside which work better and end in clenched talons. Oh, and they left the bot head staring out the top of the bird's midsection, gamely pretending to be covered by the wings. The head is articulated but cannot move in beast mode, the only articulation is the rotating wingtips and the ball jointed rear halves of the legs. The beast mode feels half-baked.
Transformation is a complicated little number with the wings splitting in half width-wise, the front halves rotating over to become legs (but more often popping off their ball joints), the rear halves with tail halves swinging down to become odd-shaped kibble wings, the legs rotating down to become the arms, and the head rotating over from the back. The beast head could also rotate downwards but it looks bad with an upside-down bird head sticking out the front of the crotch. The wings-cum-legs are trouble to get back into beast mode thanks to wonky placement of the ball joints.
Bot mode is unusual, the hips start up just under the short chest but pull off a more normal look when close to the bird head crotch. The neck-less head (there's a small gap under it) is a long bird-like bot face, red-orange with a silver face. There's a lot of wing kibble, it's a cape and it's large feathers like Mercury's shoes. The usable articulation is limited ball-jointed elbows, side-hinged shoulders, ball-jointed hips, and the head that can look up or down. The figure can stand ok thanks to feet that aren't too small or lacking heels. Overall this is just a phoned-in robot unfortunately.
- - Snarl is a robot tiger, his blockiness doesn't really fit the aesthetics of the others in the team. The figure is a muted dark orange with black, and a little copper accent work that would have worked if it was found in more than 1 small place on each side. Unfortunately, Hasbro cheaped out and didn't include the green eyes or purple 'Con logo that the proto sports, instead leaving them black and cruddy. Most of the sculpted detail is just rounded lines here and there, the thick front legs being even more plain - actually, if you look close enough there is more going on, but somehow it's spread out in such a way on this blocky cat that it's largely lost. Beast articulation is limited to the opening jaw and the tail that can hinge up; his left rear leg can also lift like a dog peeing on a tree if you want to count that. My favorite part is that inside the tiger's mouth when you open it is a blaster barrel on the hinge. The catbot's unusual blocky sculpt and blaster-in-mouth remind me more of Power Rangers than Transformers.
Transformation has several large sections folding down, the front leg piece dropping down and then short legs rotate out from inside/behind them.
Snarl's bot mode is horrendously bad, I can give them the torso, the slightly cat-like square bot head with classic G1 combiner feel, and even the cat-head with entire upper front body as the right arm, but the lower body displaying at the empty cavity side and the left arm being a confused mishmash of the cat butt that has no discernible arm, that's asking too damn much. The chest doesn't have the prototype's 3 bold stripes and the face doesn't have the green eyes so it's just an orange helmet with a black face, which sucks the life right out of it. Is there even a left arm? I don't buy this, the shoulder is supposed to be the rear half of the cat and the arm is supposed to be the rear left leg rotated around, but at best it looks laughable. The legs are functional in that he stands and there are 2 of them, but they're so wide and use the gappy side of the part, the new feet are plain, and the whole thing is wide like he's wearing pants way too big for the top of the bot. Articulation is a ball-jointed waist that can rotate or bow forward, 2 separate limited worthless ball-jointed left shoulder joints, an outer-hinged right shoulder, a ball-jointed inner shoulder, and the opening cat-mouth for the hand. Oh, can't forget about the cat-tail on the left shoulder which, when used, mainly just gets in the way. The right shoulder salvages that arm as best it can by giving great range and letting it raise up, but there's no reason to bother since the rest of the figure is such an ugly bulk. Overall, this is like the Transformer who has to take the little yellow bus to school, there is so much that doesn't work and doesn't look right it's appalling.
Damn, I didn't expect to write that much about these, it's super late, the others will have to wait. But the Predacon Minicon team fails at every level imaginable, not fun, not well-executed, not well-articulated, not well-painted, just not well-thought-out in general and is best purchased for laughing at. I cannot find the love, so the set gets a grade I don't think I've ever given a TF toy before... Grade: F
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.
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.
One thing I forgot to mention in my review of the Predator Team is that the transformation is so lame and simplistic that the instructions literally repeat step 2 as step 3 either as a mistake or to fill space. Also, in my final comment about the set, I wanted to add this: "I've never has a minicon set before that I didn't see some nifty idea I wanted to see brought forward in a larger format until now."
And now, the other sets...
- Clear Skies Team (not a very good name)
- - Nightscream is a 4-legged, winged dragon cast in dark red and mellow orange plastics. He also sports metallic yellow and black paint accents, plus his beast eyes are metallic blue; he sports a black Autobot logo on his right shoulder. He's got a huge wingspan for a minicon, over 3.5"; and he's over 3" long. I've found that robotic dragons tend to not look so robotic because the sculptors blend mechanical with scales too well and that's the case here. He's a European folklore dragon styling, with a long neck, a bulky body, a curved tail, and thin wings. The beast is in a semi-sitting position; articulation is found at the mouth-opening head, ball-jointed neck base (up/down and rotation only), side-hinged wings, and base of tail. It's a solid look, although the powerlinx port as his butt is a little awkward.
Transformation is nifty with the entire sides folding away, the tail rotating around at the base, and the the underside rotating up to become the upper body. The tail ball joint can pop off if not rotated right but it's easy to avoid.
Bot mode is a little unusual, the upper body has a dragon head and tail for arms, the upper chest looks like it's floating over the rest of the thin, almost flat torso; while the legs are made up entirely of the dragon's sides. There's a lot of intricate sculpted details revealed in the mid-torso to help keep this flat piece interesting, but the lack of color transition from the chest to the rest keeps them separate. Colors are the same, a bit more black and yellow included in the upper body, the head being red and the face being all yellow - no blue eyes that the prototype had though. The head is a little impish and reminds me more of something you'd see on a bat-bot than a dragon, though the helmet ends at the front in tiny unpainted horns; the face has a somewhat big nose and simple features. The left arm has mostly an arm shape even with a chunk cut away from transformation, the "hand" is the joint for the tail, they gamely tried to sculpt a claw hand onto the top so I'll give them points there - you'll be best served to fold the tail up till it stops. The right arm is just a dragon neck, no pretense otherwise. The legs look a little odd from the side but taper down nicely and he's a standing champion and has a few nifty poses. Articulation is the ball-jointed shoulders, opening dragon-head hand, movable dragon-tail hand, ball-jointed back (so the upper torso can rotate side to side or bow forward), hinged wings, and standard hips and knees. The right arm is hindered so it can't be brought straight forward, instead curving around slightly.
Overall, it took me a short time to get to like this guy, but now I do, even if he isn't my favorite. Bot mode is a tad unusual but very stable and posable. I'd love to see this one scaled up to a Mega size as there's lots of nifty ideas here.
- - Thunderwing is an F-14 Tomcat, they did a very good job capturing those lines, only the sweeping-back cockpit is really off. It's medium-dark blue with a dull silver cockpit, yellow and then crappy yellow paint accents (they're too thin so they don't match, the nose proves this where it's not as thin and matches), plus gold faction logos on the wings - the colorscheme is borrowing heavily from the Navy's Blue Angels demonstration squad even though they fly F/A-18s. There's an ok level of sculpted details but it feels a tad spartan especially on the underside; the plane has permanently-down landing gear which I don't dig but oh well. Sticking out the back of the plane is a large center engine, the powerlinx port that's also the bot head on the other side, it does a fair job getting away with this. The wings are articulated to sweep forward. The whole thing is pretty solid.
Transformation feels a little simple yet it moves all the parts around. Fold up the rear middle of the plane, rotate the engine/tails around to make legs, split the nose and then rotate the fuselage back, then place the head and chest. If you don't split the nose while separating the fuselage halves, the cockpit arms will pop out of one of the joints. The tail fold-around is a bit old-school, but it works. When transforming back, watch for the alignment tabs in the back of the arms as they only let you rotate the arms into place from 1 direction.
Bot mode feels very old-school to me with its more simplified sculpt, lack of neck, and more classic lines. Now the yellow is on the bottom, the blue on top, and the head has a dark red visor with silver face. Sculpted detail is still spartan and what is there doesn't get much play with the colors it's cast in. The front is a big panel, small head with rounded helmet, tall V-shaped shoulders from the engine intakes, the arms are cockpit halves with a minimal arm shape sculpted inside, the back is mostly filled in with wings hanging straight down behind, and the legs are simple thighs leading to footless shins that have wings out the front and back. The chest has a couple bolt-type shapes and in the stomach what looks like a blaster muzzle. Articulation is limited to just ball-jointed shoulders, they can rotate and angle in towards each other so they cross at the hands. He can stand very well thanks to heels made from landing gear.
Overall, it's not a very impressive bot mode but I find it does have some charm in an old-school sort of way. And I love the alt mode even if the colors are all wrong for this guy. I dunno, I just kind of dig him.
- - Steel Wind is an A-10 Thunderbolt II (aka the Warthog), a slow, low-flying, heavily armed and armored Air Force fighter jet. He's cast in dull silver plastic with dark red accents, blue cockpit, and a bright red Autobot logo just under the cockpit on the left side - these colors would have been more appropriate for Thunderwing I think as the Warthog is most well-known in green. The plane's shape is an elongated and widened, but it's unmistakable with it's rounded fuselage and unusual twin tail design and nose cannon. Plus it's sporting a bunch of bombs and rockets under the wings. The sculpt has the right amount of details, although it has permanently-deployed landing gear under the nose and wing pods (which makes it back-heavy so the nose tips up a little). The one thing I'm not down with is the ball-jointed robo-hips for the midsection, they leave a tiny gap and don't transition well to the torso, they also allow the plane to misalign and twist - otherwise though, it's solid.
Transformation is a treat in no small part because the robot fists actually slide out from the engines, I've never seen a minicon do that before, and so effectively. I also like how the legs form by the wings splitting along the long axis and the front half rotating around. Finally, the rear half of the plane splits down to reveal the head.
Bot mode is awkward with long legs, very long feet, wide narrow shoulders, stubby arms, and an elongated head - if the feet weren't so long and the head somewhat featureless, it'd probably have worked fine. The colors remain the same, the red is dialed back while the head gets a glossy off-black. The legs are heavily armed and extra lumpy for it, but I think it works. The arms are engines and if they had longer biceps it'd be fantastic. The shoulders are the wide and bladelike. The head is an odd, long isosceles trapezoid that's fairly flat and has no eyes, it reminds me of an Easter Island statue but in proportion, the mouth gets lost in the silver plastic and the nose is flat and pointed, it's a very unusual look and no eyes really hurts - maybe it's supposed to be a covering visor, but it doesn't pull it off, Prime can have a mouthplate but this is different. Articulation is limited ball-jointed hips (they can rotate and swing back), ball-jointed elbows, hinged feet, and from transformation the shoulders side-hinge at the chest so they can swing up. The feet aren't flat on the bottom despite being so long, so they have to be worked with for posing; the lack of forward-moving legs and real shoulder joints do hurt this one.
Overall, it's an odd duck, I like most of the alt mode and it has some nifty ideas for a minicon, but there are some elements it cannot pull off and that head fails it. I'd say he's slightly more than the sum of his parts though.
The Clear Skies guys don't have much in common, they're all a little unusual but they all sorta work on their own in my book. I'm sure some collectors will not like this set at all though as it's not for every transfan. Grade: C+ / B-
- Dirt Digger Team (another bad name)
- - Dirt Rocket, how is that a good name for a street bike? How is that a good name at all? Anyway, alt mode is a yellow superbike, this isn't the first minicon motorcycle but I think it's the first superbike-style one. Bike mode is very nice, complete and solid, it stands on its own but also can roll. The colors are yellow, metallic purple, black, and silver; the purple 'Con logo is on the top of the tank. I don't love the colors or the purple's fractured-stripes pattern, but it's not outside of the norm for these bikes. Sculpting is decent without being busy and has no kibble, unless you count the powerlinx ports on either side of the engine area (and they're probably a little difficult to use in this location), the only sculpt issues might be the unusually-wide handlebars and a cut-away in the faring side that exposes the empty inside (but this is rarely even noticeable).
Transformation is fairly different from any motorcycle TF I can recall, maybe a slight commonality with BM Thrust at a small level. It has plenty going on but feels unsatisfying, and they cheat by padding the instructions with 3 extra steps that are just about repositioning the arms. The seat folds out to become the arms, the front end of the bike folds down to become the legs, and the gas tank flips up to reveal the head - it's clever but poorly realized here, a larger format might do it some needed justice.
Bot mode has a tiny bit of style yet also a lot of disappointments. The style comes from the seat as arms and pipes sticking up out the back, and from an isometric view it's not too bad. The disappointments come from an unbelievably cheap leg design that's basically just a front of a bike pointing down and split in half showing off how hollow it is, and it that ends in non-feet that are holding him upright at 2 tiny rounded points each so standing is a challenge and posing a fantasy. More disappointments come from the rear wheel being pure kibble sticking straight out the back so he's back-heavy (as if he needed more trouble standing), a hollow chest under the neck-less head, a lack of new sculpted detail (just the head and faux-arm tops), odd proportions, ball joints for hips that are unusual and pop out easy and feel like they're going to break, and a paint job that brings nothing to the robot party. The head is small, rounded, a yellow helmet with a silver face and they didn't add the purple painted eyes the prototype sports. Articulation is ball-jointed shoulder pegs, horizontally-hinged shoulders (they work well together though), annoying ball-jointed hips that point downward, and hinged knees. None of the leg joints can bring much to the party because, besides posing issues, when you move the legs their piecey look and odd proportions really don't look like you've done anything.
Overall, it's a very nice alt mode but a troubled bot mode which is no surprise for a motorcycle minicon - yet here they were a lot closer and fell a lot harder. I don't really like Dirt Rocket that much, but I must confess there is something a little interesting and fiddly about him, and I do want to see the ideas presented here tried at a larger level with more possibilities for finesse.
- - Oil Slick is kind of badass in alt mode, he's a '70s musclecar, the longer hood, swooped sides, fatter lines, and cabin set further back give it a Torino feel or a Monte Carlo, maybe even one of the luxury cross-overs from that era - in any event, it looks pretty tough. The grille looks great, there are separated side mirrors and the overall lines have a real essence about it; the only real drawback is the smaller front wheels. The car is solid and the only gap is in between the taillights. The colors are orange with black windows, medium-purple flames on the front end, and dark gray wheels; center of the roof sports a black 'Con logo. The flames almost seem like primer work which adds more of a tough junkyard feel.
Transformation is simple but I find it satisfying. The whole front end splits and folds down to become the arms, inside them flips out the "hands", then the rear end folds down a little and rotates around to become the legs. I often pop the ball-jointed hips out because I try to transform it in the wrong order.
Bot mode looks tough, a real scrapper. His arms are big thick halves of the front of the car while the doors make up the shoulder kibble sticking up - it totally works though, and I can see someone repainting this as Rumble, he's even got metal pin heads in his chest, if he could kneel it'd work great (even if the head is different). Despite the large arms, the proportions work very nicely in bot mode with wide shoulders tapering down to a narrow midsection then back out to big boots. There aren't a lot of little sculpted details, but it works for this guy. The left hand is a pincher claw (non-functioning), and the right hand is a partly-serrated knife! He'll cut you, man! His head is a purple cut-away visor at the top with a silver face, simple yet effective. The legs look alright ending in boots that have a toe section made from the back of the cabin, but they're hollow in the back save a thin fender wall for the heels and they're designed to stand splayed so he has stability issues - leaning him forward at the hips a little or raising his arms will counter this to a degree. Articulation is limited ball-jointed hips, standard waist, side-hinged shoulder pins, and ball-jointed shoulders. The arm articulation gives so well, tons of range of motion and pose potential; the hip articulation however is limited forward and back to perhaps 30 degrees, past that and they pop right out.
Overall, I really dig this one despite the legs having a few big issues with posability. Alt mode looks awesome and bot mode is a real scrapper, he's got a little G1 cassette-bot homage thing going on, and his right hand is a knife! I want to see a larger version done with better leg articulation and feet/heels, but make sure to keep the cool factor.
- - Grindor, really, that's the name you want to give this guy? It was a stupid name for the skateboard minicon but at least that made a little sense, here it's like they picked it out of a hat. Anyway, alt mode is blatantly an homage to the monster truck "Grave Digger", which itself is an old-school panel truck (the truck version of a station wagon). Grindor is a modernized version of that panel truck, similar lines but a little less rounded at the edges. Grave Digger is black with green flames, Grindor is dark gray with green flames at the front (no side panel deco or red headlights tho'); Grave Digger has a green under-frame and some of Grindor's under-frame is green; and of course, Grindor's also a monster truck. Grindor has a few sculpted interior frame elements and some bot kibble acts as the running board/frame between the wheels. The bot arms hang down the back with a pretense that they're springs I guess, it does sorta work. The right rear wheel has the copyright info sculpted in small as the tire's sidewall text, that was slick; the front wheel hubs are 5mm holes for standard pegs or powerlinx hardpoints (they won't activate 'em, obviously). The sculpted details are pretty good, not great but barely enough. The front windshield and windows are painted yellow while the other windows are unpainted (which would be consistent with a panel wagon); there's a silver 'Con logo on the front cabin roof. Despite being a monster truck with huge wheels, the ground clearance is actually pretty low due to the limitations of being a minicon.
Transformation is simple yet satisfying, almost elegant. The hood swings away in halves taking the front wheels with them, the front wheels peg face-to-face into the rear wheels and then they fold down, the rear of the truck splits and fold back to make arms, and the head folds up (which the stupid packaging photo didn't even bother doing). Again I find a minicon whose ideas feel fresh enough that I'd like to see them attempted at a larger scale.
Bot mode is beefy and tough with wide shoulders, blocky mean head, and thick legs. The only stuff I'd call kibble would be the truck cab as a backpack. The stacked wheel legs work a lot better than they did on Blastcharge from BM, and they end in feet formed by the front-end halves, so it's stable despite being relatively without heels on a back-heavy figure. The head is lifted almost verbatim from Cybertron's Crumplezone with a similar crest, thin eyes, and "chomper" jaw. The body's details seem like they want to use a frame concept a la the monster truck theme, but it doesn't quite pull off, still even without tons of sculpted details it looks alright. The arms look pretty decent, classic TF arms really. The deco is the about the same, a little more green plastic showing and leading into the green flames now at the feet, and some more yellow paint details like the bands around the arms and the crest on the head - the yellow paint is pretty sloppy on the head and is the only paint there, so the dark gray plastic makes it tougher to see his facial features. Articulation is pretty good, it includes forward-hinged shoulder pins, limited ball-jointed shoulders, universal-jointed hips (rotation plus side-hinge), and the feet are side-hinged so that if you splay his legs the feet can remain flat on the ground (at least, I assume that's why it's there, there's no mention in the packaging that it exists and I can't find a better way to use it). The arm ball-joints only rotate the shoulder up and down like a standard joint (plus you can revolve the arm on the long axis so the fist is facing down instead of in), but the inner hinge allows him to cross an arm all the way across his chest for defense or pimp-slapping action.
Overall, despite a crappy name this is a really nifty minicon. The monster truck is cool on its own and then is an homage to one of the most famous ones of all time. The transformation is something clever and effective. The bot mode is a real bruiser and even has some decent range of motion considering the joint limitations. He's not the best minicon ever, but he's good at what he is.
The Dirt Digger Team is my favorite set of the wave even if 2 of the 3 names totally suck, Dirt Rocket is a poor robot, and Oil Slick has some stability issues. I really dig both Grindor and Oil Slick, they've got lots of personality and charm, and they're both tough and mean scrapper-lookin' dudes. Grade: B
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.
I am tempted by the beast Minis, purely on the strength of JT's review. (The crotch beak on the bird guy does not hurt either.)
The Clear Skies Team sound better than I thought it would. (Interesting that the F14 here has a new name, while the dragon has the name the F14 had in the sampler pack.)
And, I say again, "Dirrocket" is a filthy name. Filthy, nasty, vile.
Movie Preview Protoform Prime and Starscream are available at walmart.com right now.
just thought i'd pass that on in case anyone actually wants them
I swear they're just throwing darts at names on a wall with these things.The Clear Skies Team sound better than I thought it would. (Interesting that the F14 here has a new name, while the dragon has the name the F14 had in the sampler pack.)
I'm considering swapping Skywarp's head with Starscream's, they're the same deco basically but Skywarp's head has the silver-painted face on black plastic which looks so much better than Screamer's milky silver plastic head with black paint on the helmet.
Figgy B stashed me the other Ramjet at that Target, I picked it up yesterday, Figgy's got a passion for stashin', he's da man!
I guess I'll just slap down a review right now of Ramjet since I'm already in that mindset...
Ramjet's alt mode does a good job emulating the G1 figure, yet remains more his own thing by changing the nose and putting real detail into the delta wings, though they could have been a little bigger. I especially like the jet engine intakes on the wing's engines, and the jagged leading edges to the wings. The larger rounded missiles aren't that bad, a littlle too big but they seat very close to the launcher which is good, I just wish the launcher wasn't set back quite so far. The plane seems physically smaller than Screamer because of the shorter nose and smaller wing surface area that's also set further back - this does let the front landing gear look better when engaged though. The new nose is more like an F-14 and I like it, that and the wings totally changes the feel to something new. There's an alignment issue between the front and rear halves of the wings that prevents the legs from telescoping the last few millimeters, as a perfectionist it bothers me. The one thing I don't like about the new wing engines is the thrust nozzles are way different from the ones on the leg engines.
I'm not a fan of Hasbro's white plastic, it always looks cheap, takes dirt easily, and hides sculpted detail - this is the case with Ramjet but the other paint details keep it from being a problem, and unlike Classics Starscream the white plastic has a visually-solid surface rather than being milky. The dark gray cockpit with white painted lines looks ok, it's true to G1 but not inspiring. The black paint on the intakes looks good, I'm not in love with the red stripes or odd gold on the back of the engines (the red should have more going on), but the red paint and gray plastic of the wings look great. The gold on the underside seems to be the most dominant visual, but isn't any more offensive than the rest of the underside. The underside is still too thick and the white shows off how hollow the middle is, but the lack of color keeps it tamer than Starscream's awful underside even though Ramjet's bot-face is right there uncovered under the nose. The launchers are dark gray with white barrels and triggers, and they painted the vents on the launcher gold. Strangely, Ramjet's the only version of this mold to get the landing wheels/chest turbines painted even though they chose boring dark gray. In bot mode, say goodbye to the red and hello to more gold and this interesting rough gray - the gold looks very striking against the gray but underwhelming against the white. I really wish they had been able include more of the red in bot mode, most ends up facing backwards or is hidden behind the arms, the thighs are especially blank and would have benefited greatly from red details.
Bot mode separates itself very well from the Starscream figure thanks to a new head with new face, and a totally different wing configuration. Without the blasters on his shoulders, he seems more like a grunt, with them he seems a lot tougher. The chest still feels like a blocky facade (which it is) but blends a little better with the rest than Screamer and I'm not totally sure why, maybe the colors.The back winglets work ok, the leg ones less so since there's jointing without a solid idea of where they should be, but it's not too bad. The bot look veers from the G1 with a totally different wing configuration, and the cone-head effect works far better this time around. The head is a smaller cone so it's not totally doofy, the face doesn't take up the whole cone so it has room to look like the cartoon without being that silly tapered look, he looks mean without being dumb. The dark gray face with red eyes stands out nicely from the white cone, but the legs feel far too plain visually compared to the upper body with a lot more going on. Articulation is the same as Screamer - so posability is still limited due to the lack of a real waist - except Ramjet has even less room to turn his head due to the closeness of the cone to the vents, but at least he doesn't have wings to bang into when he raises his arm-cannons. The transformation joints on the back and shoulder plates are a little easier to de-transform this time around, but it's not too bad.
Overall, Ramjet is a worthy remold that even improves on a few issues that Starscream had, and Ramjet's a good G1 homage. Vehicle mode is nifty and different enough but has a few little issues and could use a little more paint details. Bot mode is good but a tad plain and lacking the red that makes him stand out. The cone head works better than I expected but is unhidden in alt mode and can't turn much in bot mode. It's a good entry, and I'd really like to see them redo the wings and paint so he'd be Thrust (I don't like Dirge's wings, he can slag off). Grade: B- / B
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.