Wednesday, 12 June 2019

MONTH IN REVIEW: May 2019



How is it June already? I swear as I get older the months are speeding up. Or maybe it's just that keeping a monthly blog is one way to make you acutely aware of the ever-constant passing of time. Still, it's been an awesome month, so who can complain? I mean, just have a look at some of the wonderful new toys that have made it my way in the last thirty days or so. This one's particularly photo-heavy, so strap in and let's crack on, shall we?

As mentioned in previous months, I've also struck up a bit of a relationship with the wonderful chaps at showzstore.com, and will be supplying them with photos of a number of items moving forward, all of which I will feature here too. I'd definitely recommend giving them a look, as their service has been absolutely top notch in my experience - great prices, excellent shipping options and reliable packing.

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NEW REVEALS THIS MONTH
Before we get into the stuff that I actually collected this month, let's look at a new toy that was kinda revealed this month...

TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-46 Blackarachnia
So hey, this is not really a full new reveal as we have already seen prototype pics, but even then only in robot mode. Here we finally have the official studio photography showing the sullen spider in all her glory, and you know what? She looks fantastic.


So yes, some people have definitely taken umbrage with the beast mode, but honestly, what else do you want this toy to achieve? I'd actually say that Blackarachnia has less robot kibble going on in her beast mode than Cheetor or Dinobot, and frankly I'm amazed it looks as good as it does. But hey, even if you aren't entirely convinced of that, there's surely no doubting that sublime robot mode, is there? It appears to boast an impressive array of articulation and comes with some neat accessories, proving once again that Masterpiece Beast Wars is where it's at right now. Can't wait.

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ADDED TO THE COLLECTION THIS MONTH
OK, here we go... buckle in!

(L-R) Over-Run, Blaster, Optimus Prime, Jackpot

Hasbro G1 Action Masters (1990)
I've mentioned Action Masters on this blog a few times now, and I always seem to feel the need to defend them somewhat whenever I do. In reality it's been a pleasant surprise to find that the response to them is mostly positive, aside from the odd one or two peeps who simply must tell you that, in their opinion "these aren't proper Transformers" or whatever. Still, for those of us who can make it through life without such hang-ups there's a lot of enjoyment to be had in this line. For my part it was inevitable that I was going to want to pick up Megatron at some point, having acquired Optimus Prime only last year. Well, he's a bit good, isn't he? In fact, aside from missing a fusion cannon there really isn't a lot that can be said wrong about the maniacal fellow. It helps that I found mine for a smashing price and in pretty good nick too!


Oh, and as if that wasn't enough, I also managed to pick up both Axer and Over-Run with their wonderful little transforming vehicles, as well as the individual lads Blaster, Jackpot and Devastator. Yep, Devastator. As an Action Master. In his combined form. Don't ask how that one works, but it's still kinda fun. Anyway, they're all in lovely condition and come with their weapons and what-not, but I reckon I'll probably just leave it at that and let the pictures do the rest of the talking. Fantastic stuff.

(L-R) Gutcruncher, Devastator, Slicer, Axer, Megatron, Krok, Thundercracker




















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Hasbro G1 Action Master Exo Suits Thundercracker & Slicer (1991)
In a kind-of part two to the last entry, I also picked up two of the four European-exclusive Action Master Exo Suits from 1991 this month. Fact: I've wanted these two for ages, so them happening together at the same time was certainly unprecedented but entirely welcome! I just love those vibrant colours, not to mention how bizarre the whole concept is with these guys!


But wait, who are they? Well, you see those of us who grew up in Europe where immensely lucky to see further waves of G1 after it was cancelled in 1990 in North America. In fact we received a whole bunch of Action Masters during this time, including some well-known names and some variant characters based on familiar moulds. These two cover both of those, with Thundercracker having received the multi-coloured makeover of a lifetime, while Slicer does new and interesting things with the base design for Wheeljack.


I'm sure not everyone will like the colour schemes, but I adore them! I just love how unapologetically garish they are. Slicer also features a motorised gimmick where he can actually "drive" in both modes. It works amazingly well and has a surprising amount of shift behind it!


Now come on, how much fun is that, eh? Anyway, don't take my word for it - just check these lads out in all their glory!














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Wei Jiang Sharp Blade
Thanks to the lovely folks at showzstore.com, I had the chance to check out the fourth in Wei Jiang's line of KO Power of the Primes Predacons. This time it's Tantrum, er, sorry - Sharp Blade (go figure) who gets a turn in the spotlight. I've previously mentioned that I feel like WJ could have gone much further with the "upgrades" to these guys, enhancing them to become much more MP-level rather than just making what essentially amounts to a few tweaks to the original design. Still, it's nice to see the hollow legs and arms being covered up, and no doubt if you're collecting on a budget then these could be an option for you to consider. Like Iron Rhino, my only real complaint here is that Sharp Blade's face is very nondescript, muddying the clear-cut features of the official toy quite a bit. I dare say if you're following this line then you won't be disappointed however, and with only one member still to go it will be interesting to see how the combined mode comes together!

You can find this toy available at Show.Z Store here.





With Power of the Primes Tantrum (right)


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(L-R) Octopunch, Bludgeon, Stranglehold

Hasbro G1 Pretender Bludgeon, Octopunch & Stranglehold (1989)
Certain Transformers characters hold a special significance for me purely because of the way they're portrayed in fiction. I'm sure everyone knows what I'm talking about, and no doubt if you grew up on the G1 Marvel comic you'll know why I am making this point in reference to these lads, and in particular to Bludgeon. The Master of Metallikato played a huge part in the latter-day run of the storyline, even taking his turn to lead the Decepticon forces all the way into Generation 2 where he... well, if you haven't read it I won't spoil it for you!


So I was very lucky this month when I managed to acquire all three of these lovely specimens from the same source for an agreeable price. I was already familiar with the toys, but that hasn't stopped the intense nostalgia trip being any less fun! Sure, the inside robots may not be the most impressive little 'bots you ever did see, but there's just something about the bizarre and almost nightmarish designs of the shells that make them such a delight to finally have back in the collection. Let the mayhem begin!














Also with Targetmaster Spinister & Pretender Beast Snarler


With Action Master Krok

With G2 Megatron


With Pretender Classics Jazz, Bumblebee & Grimlock

With Pretender Beasts Catilla & Carnivac

Also with Headmasters Skullcruncher, Fangry & Weirdwolf

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Hasbro G1 Deluxe Insecticons Chop Shop & Ransack (1985)
I've never owned any of the team before, but I have always been super curious about the Deluxe Insecticons. Despite barely making a dent in G1 fiction, I always thought the toys looked pretty cool and certainly quite different, which is perhaps no surprise given that the designs hail from the Armored Insect Battalion Beetras toyline. Anyway, I leapt on the chance to acquire these two recently, albeit not from the same source. The thing is, they're not exactly uncommon, but trying to find them in decent nick seems to be trickier than you might think!


Fortunately I've been really pleased with these copies. Chop Shop is so often plagued with paint chips, but mine bears no evidence of any. Ransack is definitely the more fragile of the two, but it's fair to say that both of these lads need pretty careful handling! I'm definitely going to try and find the remaining two characters pretty soon, and I can't wait to see them all lined up together.








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Hasbro G1 Triple Changer Astrotrain (1985)
I've been on something of an Astrobinge of late, having only recently picked up the Platinum, TFC and Collector's Edition anime versions. Of course that left me with one very notable hole in the collection, and one that it's been a pleasure to fill. Ironically, I acquired this minty copy of the original Hasbro Astrolad in the same month that my old and well-loved copy went to a new home, so it feels somewhat poetic. Well, kinda anyway.


And look, they don't come much more minty than that, do they? It was a real treat to apply the stickers on this toy, taking every care to adhere them in line with the other three versions of this toy in my collection. And now? Well, no more Astrotrains for me, I guess! It's kind of a kick to see a reissue of the original Takara deco' (in the TFC version), a replica of the original prototype deco' (with the CE anime version) and the classic G1 toy all lined up together. The Platinum version is just the extra weird cherry on the cake.



With Transformers Collection Astrotrain & Collector's Edition Astrotrain

Also with Platinum Astrotrain

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MakeToys MTRM-11G2 Screamer (TFCon exclusive)
Before I begin I should mention that I did at one stage own the original version of this mould, Maketoys Meteor. Despite enjoying it overall, I just didn't click with it enough to feel that it definitively replaced the official MP-11 mould, so I sold it on and have barely looked back since. Well, that is until Maketoys unveiled that they were going to produce a G2-accurate repaint as a TFCon exclusive, and then I just knew I had to have it. I mean, just look at it!


Sadly, getting hold of one was not so easy. Well, it could have been worse had it not been for the very kind help of a good friend who just happened to be attending the con. Lucky me, eh, as those scalper prices on eBay in the days following were absolutely horrendous! Anyway, I had him shipped over and was super excited for him to arrive, although alas - the flimsy packaging meant that there was a paint chip on the nosecone and a bit of a scuff on his chest. How very annoying. Still, there's no denying that he looks the absolute business, and makes me extremely hopeful that Maketoys may follow through with a G2 Ramjet repaint at some point too... wouldn't that be a thing?





With Maketoys Maestro

With X-Transbots G2 Crackup & Flipout

With FansToys G2 Grinder


With G2 Starscream


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Hasbro G2 Ramjet (1993)
Oh, and speaking of G2 Ramjet... yeah, here he is! And no, this isn't a third party Masterpiece-style version, but the original purple lad himself. I've wanted this fella for a long time now, and have just been biding my time waiting for a minty copy to pick him up. Well, that finally happened, although I will confess that I had to give him a bit of an upgrade with a few Reprolabels. That worked out well, as the sticker sheet this toy comes with is identical to the G1 toy, so it was only important to make sure the factory stickers were looking suitably fresh. And, may I say, I'm very pleased with the result?


There's just something so wonderfully and unapologetically G2 about this guy that it's hard not to love it. Whilst it's a shame that we never saw more Seekers in the G2 line, there's no denying that the two we got were both pretty magnificent!



With G2 Starscream

With G1 Ramjet


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(L-R) Swindle, Brawl, Onslaught, Blast Off, Vortex

Hasbro G2 Combaticons (1994)
Keeping on the G2 theme, I also came across this merry lot in the last month. Yes, it's the G2 Combaticons, complete with a fully yellow Onslaught! These are very well-known toys for me, but still I get quite a bit of enjoyment from discovering a new version, and dare I say that the G2 variations might be some of my favourites so far!


Again, I'm sure it won't be to everyone's taste, but I think the colour schemes are well thought-through here. Yes, the choices are bold, but each team member has a unified purple to tie them together that also works well with their individual colour schemes. The camouflage pattern is consistently purple too, which makes the combined mode look very cohesive. I think it works really well, and it makes these guys a definite treat to collect! I'm pretty much done with Bruticii now though!








With G2 Starscream & Megatron




With G1 Bruticus & Car Robots Ruination

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Takara e-HOBBY exclusive Collector's Edition 67 Orion Pax (2005)
Now here's something that I have actually had for ages, just waiting for the right time to be enjoyed! This Collector's Edition repaint of the G1 Kup mould is of course a homage to the original design (and name) for Optimus Prime, as seen in the classic cartoon episode War Dawn, where the Aerialbots travel 9 million years into the past. Also included is Dion, this time represented as a repaint of the G1 Wheelie mould, and Barrelroller, a recolour of Kup's Targetmaster Recoil, who is supposedly a different version of Roller (though that bit was just made up for the toy!).


I'm always surprised when I hear that people don't like the Kup design, as for me it's a solid classic of the G1 line, and it's great to see it given the weird and wonderful repaint treatment. Not to mention it does a great job at filling in for Orion Pax's cartoon appearance overall, although there's no doubt that the face is still a little too old man. Still, there's a lot of fun to be had here, and the entire set is really nicely done. It just makes me wish these e-HOBBY exclusives were still being produced!





With TFC Kup


With G1 Wheelie

With G1 Silverbolt

With Chronicle Optimus Prime


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Hasbro G1 Pretenders Sky High & Splashdown (1988)
Ah, Pretenders. One of several sublines from G1 that are sure to prompt people to mention how much they dislike them. And hey, I've not always been on board myself, but boy am I enjoying picking them up this time around! Having already collected the "original" Autobot Pretender trio, it was time to start looking into the Hasbro-only versions, which include these two lads and Groundbreaker (who continues to prove frustratingly elusive). These guys are slightly different in that they all have animal head designs on their shells, and are themed after the sky, the sea and the ground. Oh, and they look absolutely fantastic!


It's actually mad to think that these toys were never part of the Takara Masterforce line-up, especially given that the internal robots are some of the stronger designs, in my opinion. Just check out Sky High's vehicle mode, for example! Anyway, it's a treat to own them in such stunning condition. Now, if only I can find Groundbreaker as well...








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G1 Pretender Classic Grimlock (1989)
It's hard to imagine now, but back in the eighties established Transformers characters did not receive new toys. In fact, the Pretender Classics in 1989 were only the second example, after Powermaster Optimus Prime the prior year, of a previous character receiving an updated design. That's mad to contemplate now, when some characters can receive a new toy every couple of years, but back then it was a huge thing to see the likes of Grimlock, Jazz, Bumblebee and Starscream back on shelves in one form or another. I only ever had Jazz as a kid, although I remember a friend from school owning Grimlock and bringing him in a few times! Anyway, it's great to have added him to the ranks, especially as he was the final member I needed for a complete line-up.







With Pretender Bumblebee & Jazz


With Pretender Starscream


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Planet X PX-01B Gammadim Omega Sentinel
I was given the chance to have a look at this chap this month, thanks to the wonderful chaps over at showzstore.com. This massive lad is the somewhat inevitable blue repaint of Planet X's Genesis, their take on a War for Cybertron-style Omega Supreme. Yes, every Omega needs a Guardian Robot repaint, but they don't all turn out as nicely as this one! This chunky lad boasts an impressive presence straight out of the box, and features some of the strongest leg ratchets I think I've ever come across. A surprisingly twisty-turny transformation later and you're left with a pretty nifty spaceship design. All in all it's a fun toy, and a big one at that!

You can find this toy available at Show.Z Store here.












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KO G1 Beachcomber - "BuggyMan"
I so nearly made this my toy of the month. Seriously. It may be a simple KO of a G1 classic, but I'm absolutely in love with this thing. Check it out.


So, what's the deal? Well, the toy itself isn't intended as anything beyond just being a red KO of the typically blue Beachcomber. However, determined to find a suitable name for him I went on a bit of a voyage of discovery and asked social media for suitable suggestion, only to be reminded that there is of course a red Beachcomber already in Transformers fiction, known as BuggyMan! Or in fact, it might just be The BuggyMan to you and me. Anyway, the character was created for a comic featuring a number of the G1 Gobots, all of which are recoloured versions of the classic Minibots based on oddly-coloured prototype toys originally seen in G1 toy catalogues. A lot of these colour schemes were put to use as part of the Takara Collector's Edition Gobots box set from 2004, which reimagined the toys as classic Gobots characters given new form. However some, like BuggyMan, have yet to be redone in toy form, which kinda makes this little red KO the perfect partner to that set!


Oh, and as if that wasn't enough, a good friend of mine saw fit to create a tech spec for BuggyMan, which is just wonderful.


Anyway, it's a peculiar tale, but there's just something so adorable about the little red KO that prompted such a journey of discovery.




With Gobots Bad Boy, Bug Bite & Treds

Also with Gobots Small Foot, Road Ranger & Path Finder

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TOY OF THE MONTH
Now onto my favourite new toy this month...


TFC STC-01B Supreme Tactical Commander (Jungle Version)
A big thanks to showzstore.com for this one... Few toys have made me feel such extreme anticipation as this guy in recent times, I think. The pre-release photography was enough to have me already very excited, but then add the fact that TFC released a more traditional Optimus Prime colours version of this toy some months prior to the jungle deco' and it made for a very long wait indeed! But now, finally, he's here, and what a beast he is!


Since posting the first pics of this big fella on social media, I've received numerous queries about what this toy is supposed to represent. Well, it's a pretty interesting tale! You see it's based on a piece of artwork by legendary Transformers artist Don Figueroa which reimagined the classic GI Joe toy Rolling Thunder as transforming into a version of Optimus Prime. See, simple! Well, needless to say it's an almighty mash-up that produces a rather wonderful end result.


The alt' mode is a thing of absolute beauty. Rolling Thunder was always one of the most iconic Joe toys, and this version definitely does it justice. The fact that it can also interact superbly with the tiny Dianaught humanoids from TakaraTomy's Diaclone line makes it even more special! Oh, and one other thing to mention is that this thing weighs a ton - definitely the heaviest toy at its size that I can think of.


Anyway, it has not one but two robot modes, as the smaller humanoid form can combine with the remaining armour pieces to create a kind of super mode. If anything it's all quite reminiscent of Car Robots Fire Convoy, although other elements of this toy remind me of G2 Hero Optimus Prime as well. This is just one of many ways this toy proves to be so supremely clever in its design. Oh, and did I mention it's an absolute beast? I mean, just LOOK.


Yep, that'll get you there. Anyway, don't let me waffle on... I couldn't stop myself taking photos of this beautiful thing, so excuse me whilst I stop talking and just leave you with an absolute plethora of pictures instead.

You can find this toy available at Show.Z Store here



















With Masterpiece BAPE

With Masterpiece Megatron

















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STUFF FOR NEXT MONTH
Oh hey, is there such a thing as having too many Action Masters? I don't think so!



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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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9 comments:

  1. Hi Sixo, ive enjoyed your latest "month in review", i noticed that the legs on buggyman weren't extended, he can be taller, i have red Beachcomber too,
    kind regards,
    RIDGE.

    ReplyDelete
  2. have you spent any time with your family this month, so much transformer goodness!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, yes - quite a bit actually! Weekends are 98% non-Transformery for a start! :)

      Delete
  3. I'm with you on the MakeToys thing, I had Meteor as well and eventually offloaded him. Good toy, maybe even a little bit great, but didn't fit me. Plus I suspect we'll see a dazzling new MP Starscream within the next year or two.

    Chop Shop is probably my favorite of the deluxe Insecticons, and like you, one that I never handled until well into adulthood. I can forgive his lack of shoulder movement for the great beetle mode. He's also the least stressful of the four to transform - don't even talk to me about Venom's wings. (I haven't broken them, but I feel like I will every dang time.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I did like Meteor... just not enough! I'm also with you that there'll definitely be another MP Seeker soon. 100%.

      And yes, never handled Venom! I hopefully have one on the way though... GULP!

      Delete
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