Thursday 1 March 2018

MONTH IN REVIEW: February 2018

Having committed to doing a monthly round-up of my collecting as of last month, it now appears that I perhaps picked the absolute worst time to start! February has proven to be an exceptionally busy month, and whilst that's mostly because of family commitments and professional circumstances, thus not affording me much hobby time to begin with, there has also been something of a deluge of new additions to the collection. Some of you may be aware that I have been going through a bit of a reappraisal of my collecting boundaries of late, especially with my Masterpiece line-up now complete save for any new releases. You'll no doubt notice a bit of a shift towards reissues of some vintage figures and a few other examples from years-gone-by, and whilst in truth this has been building up fairly steadily over the last six months or so, it's definitely kicked into gear of late! In fact, I actually acquired a number of additional items from my wants list that don't even feature here, mostly thanks to a group buy from a Japanese retailer with some friends, but I'm keeping them safely tucked away for later down the line when I can find chance to appreciate them a bit more!

All that said, what has February brought?

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

TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-17+ Prowl

So, it seems the whole "anime version" thing is definitely going to continue in the TakaraTomy Masterpiece line! After MP-14+ Red Alert and more recently MP-12+ Lambor, we now have a new version of Prowl to look forward to later in the year. I say look forward to, though it's perhaps fair to note that not everyone is feeling all that enthusiastic about this repaint, and you can perhaps understand why. Whereas both Red & Sideswipe were more obvious candidates for a redo, I'm not sure Prowl would have been top of many people's lists for a revision of any kind. Also consider that the only notable changes here are blue-tinted windows and a lack of "Police" logos on the car doors, and it's not hard to see why some might be skeptical. For what it's worth, I've no doubt I will pick this guy up, though admittedly it's not who I would have chosen for the "+" treatment myself!

Ocular Max PS-04 Azalea

Photo c/o Hard Return

Where's Arcee? That's been the question I have been asked just about every time I have posted a season 3 group shot on social media, so notable is the lack of representation for the female Autobot. Yes, there have been attempts, most notably Toyworld's Leia not so long ago, and for a while I was thinking that FansToys' Rouge looked to be a good option. Now I'm quite intrigued to see how Ocular Max's attempt shapes up, as I think this prototype is looking pretty dang good thus far! Unless they also decide to randomly pose it for seriously-questionable poor-taste photos with some of their other figures, there's every chance this could be something I'm interested in.

Power of the Primes Predaking

A lot of you may know that I don't collect mainline figures, as a rule. That's not snobbery. In fact I think that much of Combiner Wars, Titans Return and what I have seen thus far of Power of the Primes is excellent, but I of course have to draw the line somewhere in terms of what finances, space & time will allow me to collect! Fortunately, I'm lucky enough to get the chance to give them a go during regular pub meet-ups, so that's something. For my own collection, I did make an exception for both Legends Fortress Maximus and Unite Warriors Devastator, as they are so close to their respective G1 animation models that they just about scratch the Masterpiece itch in my eyes. And so it seems with Predaking here! He's by no means a spot-on representation of the G1 character as he appeared on-screen, but he's not too far off either. And, whilst some of the individual 'bots look like there may be some serious compromises worked in (those backpacks!), that combined mode is looking mighty fine! I will be watching this one with interest, as if it ends up close to the potential of Devastator, I'm all in.

OK, so now let's have a look at the stuff I have collected this month! As I mentioned, it's been another crazy month, as I have actually picked up a couple of bits on top of what you see below, thanks to a particularly insane group-buy with some friends of mine. However, I am still going through the contents of that in order to make sure that I have chance to appreciate everything, so more on those figures another day! For this month, in no particular order...

Hasbro G1 Jetfire

Ask most people what their G1 Holy Grails are, and there's a strong likelihood of Jetfire being somewhere on that list. No doubt there are many reasons for that: it's a unique toy in the Transformers brand, not being at all apologetic about its Macross roots; it brings a level of detail and articulation that few other TF toys of the era could match, so was pretty sought after even in the '80s; it doesn't match the on-screen representation of the character at all, and has become rather mythic for not doing so; and finally, the toy is very hard to find these days in minty white condition, as so many copies have succumbed to yellowing over the last few decades. So, I was extraordinarily excited to pick up a pretty handsome specimen at a recent pub meet-up! Yes, I went out for a few beers and came home with a boxed G1 Jetfire in tow... you don't find that in your local?

TakaraTomy Masterpiece MPM-5 Barricade

This guy. I actually wasn't all that buzzed about him arriving, having found mixed results with both MPM-3 Bumblebee and MPM-4 Optimus Prime due to quality control problems, despite liking the basic designs. However, as soon as he arrived I was won over. That vehicle mode is simply gorgeous, with some stunning tampos and a beautiful finish. Then the transformation is pleasingly smooth and easily repeatable, leaving you with a surprisingly dynamic 'bot, given the design. Total win over. In fact, in another month this guy could have been a contender for figure of the month, I think.

TakaraTomy The Transformers Collection 12 Hot Rodimus / 20 Chear (Kup)

So you know that pub meet-up I mentioned? Yeah, I picked these guys up from there too! Now, I do already have a G1 Hot Rod (several, in fact), but the opportunity to own the Targetmaster version again was too much, and I've long toyed with picking up a Kup too. These are both loose copies of the TFC versions, although I have to say that if anything, they've maybe convinced me to pick up better, boxed copies later down the line. Still, for a cheap impulse purchase made whilst I had a pint of ale in the other hand, they're really not bad at all.

TakaraTomy G1 Sixtrain & Sixbuilder (reissue)

If you've never checked out the Operation Combination Micromaster combiners, then you owe it to yourself to do so, as they're some great figures! The original figures came out in 1992 in Japan, right at the butt end of the G1 line. The reissues are from 2002-3 however (and were subsequently released again later on by Hasbro in their Universe line), and whilst they don't come packaged in the snazzy giftset boxes that the originals do, they can of course be tracked down for a significantly cheaper price! I had long toyed with picking these guys up, and finally February was the right time to do so. Oh, and I already have Sixturbo on the way too, so I guess I will be on the look out for a Sixwing then!

TakaraTomy Super Car Robo 3 Kyodai Set - Clear Version

I'm a big fan of Car Robots / Robots in Disguise, ok? I've owned a number of the toys since they first came out (which seems like a very long time ago now!), but have subsequently tracked down a number of missing pieces. The clear set of the Car Robot brothers was released in one package back in 2000 alongside the regular releases, although this time as a show exclusive limited to 1500 pieces overall. I have had my eye on them for some time, although I've only just now seen them for a price I was willing to pay and in a condition that met my expectations. Needless to say, I'm every bit as impressed as I hoped I would be - these chaps are just GORGEOUS beyond belief.

Hasbro Universe Sunstreaker (OTFCC 2003)

Just to prove how much of a Car Robots fan I am, I also picked up this chap over the last month! I've been looking for a copy of Sunstreaker for a while now, having picked up the Sideswipe version some time ago. Both figures are of course repaints of the Prowl/ Mach Alert mould, and were official exclusives for OTFCC 2003 (the official Transformers convention the year after it could no longer be called Botcon!). However, Sideswipe was a readily-available 'con figure, whereas Sunstreaker was only gifted to people who booked at the official convention hotel in advance, and in much smaller quantities. He's not really rare as such, but he is a bugger to track down, and so I'm pleased to finally have a copy.

TakaraTomy G1 D-98 Sixshot (reissue)

There are many G1 toys that I never experienced throughout childhood, like most of us I'm sure. However, there are also still a fair few that I have yet to get my mitts on even today, with Sixshot being a notable example until this last month. I'd always admired the look of the toy, and so finally pounced on a cheap listing for the 2002 Japanese reissue of the vintage figure. Identical to the original and featuring essentially the same packaging, this is how I wish all G1 reissues could be done - it's exactly like owning a slice of history! Personally, I find it so much more preferable to the later 2012 reissue with it's reimagined box and additional chrome, although I guess it's all a matter of taste. Regardless, I couldn't be happier with this guy now that I finally have him in hand. After 30 years, I can honestly say he's a magnificent figure, with a colour scheme that is hard to beat!

Hasbro G1 Predator Skyquake

I know that a lot of people would almost by default think that the earlier G1 toys were the absolute pinnacle of the line, but actually I have a great love for much of latter-day vintage Transformers. I also love that the line continued in Europe for a good couple of years after it finished in the US, with some fantastic original moulds seeing light of day during that time. One such example is Skyquake, an absolute beast of a figure standing head & shoulders above many of the other toys of the time. He's a chunky, robust hunk of fun and I'm absolutely thrilled to add him to my ranks. That colour scheme, that neon green, that worryingly fragile gold plastic... it's all part of an awesome package.

Unique Toys M-03 Kalecgos

I reviewed the two previous members of Unique Toys' not-Bruticus combiner, Ragnaros, back in August (you can read that here), and then I went on to put Archimonde on my list of best figures from 2017. So, I was perhaps just a little excited to have the boss chap of the set arrive in the form of Kalecgos. Yes, the name is bafflingly pants, but the figure is really rather good! I fully intend to do a bit of a proper write-up on this one, so won't say too much here, but I'm certainly enjoying him thus far! Roll on the final two though, as my Bruticus is looking a bit 'armless at the moment (geddit?).

TFC Toys Trinity Force TF-03 Wildhunter

I'll be honest, I've toyed with and started writing a review of the previous two figures in this set multiple times. For one reason or another, I never quite got round to getting it done, although I still kind of intend to correct that at some point soon, at which point I would no doubt give Wildhunter the once over also. Still, reviews aside, it's great to have completed this set, which is of course a representation of Road Caesar from Transformers: Victory. I think that Wildhunter might actually be my favourite of the three, with a comparatively smoother transformation and an impressive stature. He has some issues though, most notably the Brainmaster gimmick not working very well at all on my copy, but let's be honest - we're all here for that sweet combined mode really, aren't we? And there's no doubt that in that regard, this set does not disappoint one bit! Just look at it - Road Caesar, baby!

Hasbro G1 Commemorative Seacons (reissue)

The Seacons have always kinda been my jam. They were one of the few combiner sets that I actually managed to complete as a child, and thus I really enjoyed seeing them on the pages of the G1 Marvel UK comic (even if they did meet a bit of an unceremonious end in a reprinted US story). I just always thought there was something weird and uniquely cool about the fact that they chilled out underwater a lot of the time, and of course it helps that the toys themselves are pretty cracking! This giftset was a very cheap way of owning the complete set again (and certainly better than a vintage giftset, for as lovely a thing as that would be it costs the same as a house), and it turned out pretty good, all things considered! For some strange reason, they moulded Snaptrap's head the wrong colour, but actually I'm kinda used to it now. Besides, there's no denying how awesome the combined Piranacon form is!

Hasbro G1 Motorvator Flame / Lightspeed

As I mentioned, I've been reappraising my collecting focuses a little recently, and no doubt some people have noticed that I have been getting a little heavier into the G1 scene than I previously have allowed myself to... well, these guys have definitely helped me along the way, and have actually been responsible for me achieving a bit of mental clarification on the subject. You see, I did actually pick up some decent but loose copies of both of them at that pub meet-up I mentioned up above (honestly, WHAT a night that was). However, upon later reflection I decided that although they were in good condition, I really would rather upgrade to MIB standard, and have that as a precedent for future G1 collecting (or as much as is possible). So, long story short... I managed to track down these two rather wonderful specimens and will be flipping the loose copies I picked up as part of the experience. I'll be sure to share some more photos of these guys very soon, too, as they're just wonderful. Now I just need to track down a MIB Gripper (the third figure in this set), and I'll be a happy bunny!

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:

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

Hasbro G1 Overlord

So, remember that pub meet-up I mentioned above? Yeah, it really was a crazy night, especially as Jetfire wasn't the most surprising thing that I walked home with... No doubt the prize of the night for me was this absolutely incredible figure. I've been looking at listings for G1 Overlord for quite some time, and finally I found a copy that I was happy to put down money on. And boy, is he an absolute belter! That robot mode is just too much - massive, hulking, overbearing, and just far too eye-catching. I love the two vehicle modes, and the base mode is loads of fun too. So yeah, there was no way that this was ever going to be beaten to the prestige of being figure of the month, really, was there? In an already insanely busy month, Overlord reigns supreme.

And finally, what can we look forward to next month? Well, actually, there aren't any specific releases coming up in March that I am particularly waiting on, although I am still looking forward to both Masterpiece MP-40 Hot Rodimus and MP-711 Convoy that were actually released in February but haven't made it to me yet! Other than that, I have plenty more reissues to focus on that I will be sure to document as I go!


And that's it! As I say, another insanely busy month, but plenty of fun stuff going on. Thanks for reading!

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1 comment:

  1. All of the Combiners from Transformers Victory needs the Combiner Wars treatment.