Saturday, 31 March 2018

MONTH IN REVIEW: March 2018



OK, so despite all my best protestations to the contrary, those who know me may well have noticed that I have been on something of a G1 kick recently. Do I collect G1? Well, you'll never hear me publicly admit that (it's a running joke), but no doubt there's something exciting about the hunt for minty specimens of vintage items that's been captivating me of late. If you read my review of February then you'll have maybe noticed some of the journey I've been on as part of that rediscovery, but things have definitely kicked up a notch in the month since.

So, what did March bring?


NEW REVEALS THIS MONTH
Before we get into the stuff that I actually collected in March, let's take a moment to look at some exciting new reveals that have happened this month!

DX9 La Hire


Let me start by saying that I loathed The Last Knight. Sorry if you disagree, but I thought it represented a new low for the live action films (which have still never repeated the relative heights of the 2007 original, in my opinion), and don't even get me started on the unfortunate caricature that was "'Ot Rod". That said, the design of the 'bot himself is still pretty cool, and there's no denying the appeal of that Lamborghini alt' mode either. Unique Toys definitely struck a chord with their take on Lockdown, and now their sister brand DX9 look set to bring us an exciting follow up in the form of La Hire. It's true that renders of this guy were initially revealed last month, but now we have a proper look at the initial prototype pics, and I have to say I think he's shaping up nicely! One to watch.


TakaraTomy Diaclone reboot DA-23/24 Waruder suits


If you're not yet collecting TakaraTomy's Diaclone reboot line then take it from me - you're missing out. BIG time. Whilst there's still only a handful of moulds, the play possibilities are off the charts and the whole thing just oozes quality. Up until now, we've only had toys that represent the good guys, but that looks all set to change with this set, which was only revealed a few days ago. If you're not up on your pre-TF history, then the Waruders are essentially the baddies of the Diaclone universe, sporting more insectoid-like vehicles and robot bodies. In fact, it's where the moulds for the G1 Insecticons take their heritage, believe it or not! Now we're set to get a fully up-to-date reimagining of the Waruder clan, starting with what looks to be their take on Powered Suits, including a couple of Waruder mini-figures as well. This universe just got a whole lot bigger.


Fans Hobby Power Baser - Nucleon Quest Super Convoy version


I reviewed Fans Hobby Power Baser back in December (read it here) and found it to be a fun figure, though certainly not perfect. Well now it looks like we have a new version to get excited about, and it's evidently going to be a homage to Nucleon Quest Super Convoy, itself a black redeco of the Ginrai mould, released in 2001. Oh, did I mention that NQSC is probably one of my favourite figures in my collection? Yeah, it's absolutely stunning, and so if Fans Hobby can even nearly match it's grace & charm then we should be onto a winner here, and that's not even mentioning that the 3P company also have a habit of making welcome improvements to their designs as they're repainted.


ADDED TO THE COLLECTION THIS MONTH
So, now onto the new stuff from the month. There's been a couple of surprising additions along the way, meaning that I still have a number of items left from months gone by that will need to be investigated another time! Still, in no particular order...

Takara G1 C-327 Victory Leo (1989)


Woof. This guy has been on my hit list for some time. I have actually lost count of the number of listings & auctions I have looked at or tracked for both G1 Victory Leo and his partner-in-crime, Star Saber. But it's true when they say that all good things come to those who wait, and this month it was finally the right time to add him to my collection. And what a specimen! Whereas too many examples I have seen are damaged, yellowed, worn or have parts missing, this copy is absolutely pristine, with only a couple of the stickers being slightly misaligned to grumble about (and that's if I was feeling particularly picky). Hell, the missiles are even still on the sprue (where they will be staying)! I actually have never seen one so nice in hand before, and so it's been a real pleasure to experience this guy as he was meant to be. In fact, I don't think I've taken my eyes off him much in the time since he arrived! Just look at it!




Takara G1 Micromaster Sixturbo & Sixwing (reissue 2002/3)


If you read my February review, you'll know that I recently picked up reissue copies of Sixtrain & Sixbuilder. Well, March was the time to add to my collection of Micromaster combiners with these two lovely specimens, and what fun they are! I think Sixwing may be one of my favourites of all these sets overall, despite some of the individual robot modes not being the easiest to stand. Sixturbo is also tons of fun, and feels absolutely chock full of character. It's still a massive temptation for me to one day track down the original vintage giftsets of these figures, but no doubt the reissues will suffice for a long time to come.








TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-711 Convoy (2018)


A white Prime has been on lots of wishlists ever since MP-10 repaints started to become a thing, but it's taken until now to finally see it realised. Does it disappoint? Ha, not at all! Despite having seen so many iterations of this mould over the last few years, I honestly never get tired of them, and MP-711 doesn't fail to bring something new to the table. That shocking white, those striking silver highlights, that stunning blue faceplate... it's all exactly what I wanted. So, yes, the 711 branding is a little bizarre, but if you don't apply the stickers in this package then it's only really relevant on the trailer. I'm still debating adding the Autobot logo to the left shoulder, though it's looking likely that I will at some point! And yes, it's rumoured that a new Masterpiece Optimus mould is right around the corner, but that doesn't mean we can't still enjoy this one, does it?



Takara Car Robots D-011 Baldigus (2000)


I love G1 Bruticus. Not only is he a great toy, but the Combaticons are fantastic characters to boot, so I've always been somewhat intrigued by them. My vintage Bruticus remains one of the longest-standing pieces of my collection. But then I also love Car Robots, and have been on a bit of a mission of late to fill in a couple of spots that were missing on my roster. Step forward Baldigus, the Takara version of Ruination, and behold an entirely new but absolutely lovely colour scheme for the old toys. It's amazing what new life can be breathed into a familiar mould with a new paint job, and Baldigus shows that admirably, shaking off any feeling of being derivative of the G1 original character. Oh, and it's my first experience of the updated mould's gun-combining gimmick too - great stuff.








Hasbro G1 Motorvator Gripper (1991)


I maybe mentioned last month but I've recently acquired MIB specimens of the Motorvators Flame & Lightspeed, having been initially tempted back into owning them after picking up loose copies at a pub meet-up. Well, it was always in the plan to pick up a similarly-stunning copy of Gripper, who remained the only one of the trio to be unfamiliar to me, but I didn't expect to find one as quick as this! And what a specimen - absolutely mint condition, stickers unapplied... I actually don't think he's ever been out of the box before. So now that's the Motorvators complete and ready for a proper write-up some other time!





Takara Operation Combination TF-06, TF-07, TF-08, TF-09 (1992)


Gripper & the Motorvators aren't the only part of late European-exclusive G1 that I've always been interested in. As a lad, I had several toys from the Turbomasters and Predators - excellent toys that were never released in America, so remain a mystery to many. Whilst I decided to lurch back into this particular area of collecting, I opted to instead hunt for the Japanese releases of these particular eight toys, where they came re-packaged in four "versus" sets, each with one Turbomaster and one Predator. The packaging itself is absolutely beautiful, but then so are the toys - quirky, creative examples of a line that many considered dead & buried at the time. And what lovely specimens these are! Still all in mint condition and with no stickers applied. These sets (and indeed the European originals) can be exceptionally hard to find in decent condition, so I was pleased I held out, especially as I managed to source all four boxes from the same place. It's great to have them back in hand, and I look forward to sharing some more pics of them later down the line.


















Hasbro Turbomaster Rotorstorm & Predator Stalker (1992)


Having decided to delve back into the wonderful arena of European G1, it was inevitable that I would look to pick up these two exceptional figures again at some point. Funnily enough, I had only sold on my original copy of Stalker not so long ago (to a good friend, no less), so it was strange to be on the hunt for him again so soon, but very pleasurable to have such a mint copy in hand. In fact, both of these specimens came in decent nick in their boxes and with original stickersheets intact, but it's Stalker who's truly the highlight. Rotorstorm has cleaned up well, but is sadly missing his guns and missiles and has some evidence of damage to the rotor blades. I'll very likely look to upgrade part or all of him someday, but for the cheap price I paid he's definitely worth it (even if just to get hold of that unused stickersheet!). Till then, it's just a joy to have these two back in hand!






TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-9 2010 soundstage (2011)


Now this is something that probably won't ring as being very special for a lot of people, but that I've been trying to track down for absolutely ages! I have the two original soundstages that came packaged with Hasbro 20th Anniversary DVD Edition Optimus Prime and subsequently TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-1L Convoy, but the MP-9 soundstage had long eluded me. It was a mailaway exclusive which could only be obtained once you had collected enough "points" from TakaraTomy's various releases in their 2010 series (including MP-9), and has since become an absolute arse to find. Fortunately, this particular box has now been ticked, which means you too can enjoy those wonderful sound samples! I did say it wouldn't be for everyone, but it's made me an extremely happy collector this month.


My collection of soundstages: (L-R) Hasbro 20th Anniversary DVD Edition Optimus Prime, TakaraTomy MP-1L Convoy, TakaraTomy MP-9 Rodimus Prime



REVIEW ROUND-UP
I've only had the time to do one proper review this month, but fortunately it's a corker of a figure! Here you go:






TOY OF THE MONTH
So, all of the above toys are pretty good fun, but this month there's little doubt which figure takes my top spot...

Takara G1 C-324 Star Saber (1989)


Oh, I didn't mention this earlier when I was talking about Victory Leo, did I? Yeah, so, would you believe I actually bought both of these chaps at the same time? And would you also believe that it was for a really decent price? And would you also believe that I still can't comprehend just how minty my new copy of Star Saber is? I mean, just look at this thing! For the uninitiated, you're seeing him with stickers unapplied, and that's because they're still on the original stickersheet! In fact, if I had to take a guess, I would say that he's barely been out of the box before, he's in such nice condition. My intention is to adorn him with a set of Reprolabels, thus keeping the original decals on the sheet for prosperity, at which point I will also go the whole hog and combine this guy with Victory Leo for the full Victory Saber effect. I'll no doubt share some more pics when that happens, but for now bask in the glory of this absolutely magnificent toy. He's been a Holy Grail of mine for such a long time, it feels weird to finally show him off!








STUFF FOR NEXT MONTH
So, with some collecting goals suitably ticked off in the first couple of months of this year, what's next? Well, I still have a bit of a back catalogue of reissues to comb through, but I've started to move my sights forward to the next G1 subline to take my focus... in fact I may have something lined up already... any guesses what it is?

Photo c/o TFW2005

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And that's it! Thanks for reading, and here's to another exciting month to come. TTFN.


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