Monday, 30 April 2018

MONTH IN REVIEW: April 2018



I mentioned last month that I may have been on something of a G1 kick of late, and when you're done reading this month's write-up, you'll likely agree that's no exaggeration... in fact there's possibly only so many months of collecting like this one that I can write about before people start pegging me as an actual full-time, no-holds-barred G1 collector. Which I'm really not, honest. There just hasn't exactly been a lot going on in the Masterpiece world of late, has there? Yeah, that must be it. All that said, what did April bring?


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

Unique Toys M-04 Broodlord Lashlayer & M-05 Rage Winter Chill


OK, it's official. Unique Toys have the absolute worst character names of any third party outfit. Either that or they're seriously taking the piss with stuff like "Broodlord Lashlayer". Fortunately the toys themselves are looking pretty great, and we can simply call them "Blast Off" and "Vortex" if we really wish! Anyway, I'm pretty excited about these two, not least because they finish the set of not-Combaticons and thus my own personal pick for an unofficial Masterpiece-styled Bruticus. I did a review on Archimonde & Ghaz'ranka back in August last year, and then I did a mention of chief chap Kalecgos in February, so it's definitely welcome news to see the final two team members on the way. We've seen the prototypes before of course, but here we're treated to the final coloured test shots for the first time. Bring it.



FansToys FT-26 Chomp


Headmasters remain a personal favourite of mine, with the original toys still bringing me a sense of enjoyment that very few toys can. On that basis, Masterpiece-styled interpretations of these characters have to be pretty special to capture the imagination, but on face value at least it looks like FansToys have a good attempt here. With a clean robot mode and nicely-articulated beast mode, Chomp seems like he could be all kinds of fun, and with no other third party companies currently entering the market with renditions of the main Decepticon Headmaster trio, it may be that FansToys will get my money. We'll see.



ADDED TO THE COLLECTION THIS MONTH
So, now onto the new stuff from the month. Regular readers may well notice a bit of a surprising theme this month... actually, is it surprising? You tell me. Anyway, in no particular order...

Hasbro G1 Powermasters Slapdash & Joyride (1988)


Powermasters. The third and, in my opinion most underrated of the "little guy partnered with a big robot" gimmicks from the 1987-1988 era. I still think the engine format is very cool, at least in premise if not quite in execution. I say that last bit only because the reality of these vintage toys is that they were frequently broken by overeager children (and adults, I'm sure!) attempting to transform them without their partners properly installed, which is a little unfortunate. For my own part, I still frequently perform that particular operation with an appropriately-placed thumb over the mechanism button, thus enabling the relevant parts to be released for conversion - life is too short to be installing the engine every time, after all! Still, none of that takes away from these guys being absolutely stunning toys from what is no doubt one of the most exciting eras of Transformers in my mind. Slapdash was a childhood favourite (that transformation scheme is still an absolute marvel!) whereas Joyride I had actually never experienced before, but now they're both in the collection and looking suitably minty. Need to find a Getaway in the same condition now then, which should be no problem at all. Hmm.








TakaraTomy G1 Return of Convoy C-372 Star Convoy (reissue 2005)


This is one of those toys that's been on my "maybe one day" list for quite some time, but I recently cracked when he came up extremely cheap during a group buy. I've actually had him sat MISB since then, but finally found the time to crack him open in April. Now I'm left wondering why I waited! I mean, just check out this handsome devil, eh? He's a classic G1-style blocky 'bot with an absolutely banging headsculpt and some gorgeous details, such as that chrome and translucent plastic chest area. Add to the equation that he's tons of fun, with a motorised gimmick and plenty of other little features that make him feel truly special. This is of course a reissued version of the same toy from the Return of Convoy line that was originally released in 1991, just after G1 had ended in some markets. He's more of a base for Micromaster figures than first appears, but really the game should have been given away by the inclusion of a mini-Hot Rod figure, who is himself nothing short of awesome. Perhaps the only real negative I can say for this set is the absolutely horrible experience of applying the stickers, particularly the large stripes down the side. That aside, I'd say it's an absolute must, and especially for the cheap price that the reissue can still be sourced for. Top drawer stuff.










Hasbro Action Masters Optimus Prime & Gutcruncher (1990)


I recently shared a picture of my new purchase of Action Master Optimus Prime on social media, fully expecting a bit of a backlash. After all, Action Masters were pretty unpopular on release in 1990, and still remain an oft-cited catalyst for the end of G1 in the US market at least. Also, they're Transformers who can't transform, as naysayers will frequently remind you. In reality, all I received were positive comments, which was quite refreshing to say the least! For my own money, I didn't much care for the concept back at the turn of the '90s either, but like so many vintage toys I've found a newer appreciation for them in more recent years. When I saw both of these chaps listed in good, boxed condition for what felt like an absolute bargain, something in me convinced me to pounce. And I'm pleased I did! It's been great fun reliving the play pattern of the Optimus mould, whilst Gutcruncher has actually been an entirely new experience for me. I'm not about to go Action Master crazy, but it has made me think that there's maybe room for another one or two in my collection further in the future. After all, I need some 'bots to hang off the side of Optimus' trailer, right?















Hasbro G1 Targetmaster Scoop (1988)


Scoop was definitely not on my list of vintage toys to be searching for, I'll be honest. Still, he's a figure I remember well from my childhood, so when the opportunity arose to pick him up for (literally) next to nothing as part of my Action Master purchase, I thought why on earth not? I still need to sort some decals for him, but otherwise he's in nice, tidy condition and is certainly tons of fun. I'm sure I'll consider looking for the other double-Targetmasters at some point in the future, although it's actually the Decepticon moulds that have me most excited.




Takara Super-God Masterforce C-308 Doubleclouder (1988)


I've shared a few pictures of this chap on social media, and a lot of people have responded to say that they also owned him as children. I've politely taken this to mean that a lot of people are perceiving this purchase to be Doubledealer, the Hasbro version of the same mould, whereas this is actually the Japanese Masterforce release of Doubleclouder. The differences? Well, it's the colour scheme really, with Doubleclouder featuring a lot of white plastic instead of grey, and also sporting some rather mad silver highlights on both the robot and bird mode faces. There are more subtle changes going on here, but ultimately it's a curiosity that was hard to pass up even though I do intend on adding the Hasbro version to my ranks once again some day soon. The weirdest thing of all about this release is that it's actually Doubledealer who is more accurate to the Masterforce cartoon, but there's still no denying that his Japanese cousin looks the absolute business. The stickers may be a bit worn in places, but considering the insane prices that this guy can go for, I was really happy to find him in as good a condition as he's in, particularly without even a hint of yellowing on that stark, white plastic. Oh, and before anyone asks, yes the missile placement in bird form is correct - it's only Doubledealer who wears it rather suggestively in that mode!








TOY OF THE MONTH
So I mentioned that you'd definitely notice a bit of a G1 theme going on, eh? Well, the top spot this month is no different...

Takara G1 C-323 Road Caesar (1989)


So, Action Masters, Powermasters, Targetmasters... it was always going to take something pretty awesome to top this lot and be crowned figure of the month, eh? Well Road Caesar definitely fits that bill! I’ve been quietly looking for the big guy for some time alongside his Victory comrades Star Saber and Victory Leo, and I jumped on this particularly minty giftset and finally fulfilled my ambition. Regular readers will know that I only recently re-acquired the European Motorvator versions of these guys as part of my collection, but their Japanese counterparts feel quite different in many respects. Not only are they sporting some contrasting colour schemes, but of course they're accessorised with the bits and bobs required to make Road Caesar himself, in all his awkwardly-proportioned glory. He may be a bit of a bizarre 'bot, but he exudes such a loveable charm that it's impossible not to fall instantly in love with him. I had been swayed by many a decently-priced listing for the individual 'bots on plenty of occasions, but I'm now so pleased that I held out for the complete giftset, and in such a great condition. Collectors familiar with this lad will no doubt notice that he's currently missing a set of stickers, but fortunately I still have the unused sets that accompanied the Motorvators, so I'm looking into being able to repro those somehow with the help of a friend. Either way, there's no denying what a wonderful piece this is to add to the collection, so there was no way he wasn't going to be figure of the month for April.














STUFF FOR NEXT MONTH
The G1 theme continues. With some milestones ticked off and Powermasters well underway, I may have set my sights elsewhere on the vintage horizon... did I mention what my favourite gimmick was earlier? Here's a hint.


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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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1 comment:

  1. Those combaticons are looking pretty ace. They shine as individual bots, which is why I picked them. I'm a bit of a minority, I guess, but I rarely display my combiner teams in combined mod. I have to admit, I'm half tempted to buy the Zeta versions to go along with these and have the Zeta bots live in combined mode instead.

    Action Masters are a weird beast. Not being negative, mind you, it's just weird to see Optimus driving a truck... but he is a truck? Why is a truck driving a truck? I think at this point Hasbro was banking on the characters themselves being the selling point, but by sacrificing the transformations, I feel they took away some of the magic. However, they are very nice little figures with excellent sculpts, though, and I do have some of the old action masters lying about here. I got half a mind to dig them out of storage for a bit.

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