Despite the title of this post, which I couldn’t resist, Hasbro has been doing some good things recently, most of which have nothing to do with the upcoming movie and its horrible toy line. They have been releasing just enough G1 and other legacy inspired characters in their Generations line to keep collectors and G1 fans interested. Most of the characters from the original cartoon and toy line have been recreated fairly well. There are still a few gaps and a few characters that Hasbro just can’t seem to get right, but overall, I am pleased with their efforts. But then a new movie comes out and we get slammed with plastic crap. I have never really liked the aesthetic of the Bayformers, but I have enjoyed some of the toys for their cool look and unique or interesting transformations. It has taken years to accept that I will not see anything remotely like G1 on the big screen and begin to appreciate these Transformers inspired stories and characters. After looking at the coverage of Botcon from Tformers.com, I am looking forward to an interesting year of Transformers toys. I have included a link to their wrap-up that has some great pictures of upcoming releases:

 

http://tformers.com/botcon-2014-tformers-coverage-roundup/23914/news.html

 

First, about the movie toys. I am a sucker for Dinobots and have purchased a few. The Bumblebee of this movie is Grimlock. He has a toy in almost every class and several redecos of each, none of which are very good. Aside from the more simplistic transformations of the new toys, the Leader class toys are significantly smaller than previous ones. So my first comment on the leader class Grimlock is that he is too small. The robot mode is ok, but the dino mode is strange. It is way too elongated in the torso, making the t-rex look more like an iguana. The voyager class Grimlock is better, but has a hump-backed look and the ribcage and arms hang off the torso in a weird way. Then there are all the other kinds of Transformers toys. One step changers, flip to change, Kre-o, hero mashers, construct-bots, dino-sparkers, power battlers, titans (non-transforming vinyl)… It is difficult to find the regular Transformers in the Transformers toy section of the store. As a father of a two-year-old, I can understand the need for a simpler transforming toy (I love the Rescue Bots show and toys), but Hasbro has not only dumbed down the regular Transformers line, but has added all these other non-transforming and simple transforming toys. It might have been more balanced if they had kept the complex transformations on their main line and had the other kinds, but what they did was dumb down everything, resulting in a rather dumb set of toys. There are a few exceptions. I like the voyager class Evasion Mode Optimus Prime. Here is a movie figure that pays homage to G1 prime about as well as a G1 fan can expect from these movies. The vehicle mode is a great near copy of the G1 toy and the robot mode, while using the movie aesthetic, looks good and has great articulation, except for the elbows, which are a mess. A few of the dinobots are also nice. Their robot modes mimic design elements of various types of suits of armor: French full plate, Samurai… If you can get used to the robotic dinosaur skeleton look, they are not too bad. I have not purchased any vehicle mode Transformers, other than Prime, but I will only get a few. Most look really bad. I want to like Galvitron, but the robot mode is just ugly and has a poor transformation. Another problem I have with the movie toys is that they are in the Generations line. This is a technicality that has more to do with packaging and product recognition, than keeping the themes straight, but it bugs me.

 

On to the good stuff! Botcon showed us some of the good things that Hasbro is doing. Third party companies have been getting a little out of control with their “homages” to Transformers characters. They are generally good toys, or rather collector’s items, but they are very expensive, have quality issues and can be frustrating because of multiple releases of similar characters. For the most part, I have enjoyed them, but I have reduced my third party purchases because Hasbro has started releasing many of the fan favorite characters they are making. Roadbuster comes to mind. I love all my Fansproject toys, and I almost spent $100 on their recent Roadbuster homage, but just in time, Hasbro released a picture of their upcoming Roadbuster. Like other Generations toys, it is not exactly like the original. Some have been reimagined or modernized and others have used the IDW character as a template. But however they came up with their new Roadbuster, I like it better than the Fansproject version. Hasbro is even releasing female Transformers, including a pink very G1 accurate Arcee and a modern, or rather, sci-fi looking Chromia. The new Windblade character also looks good. In the past, both for GI Joe and Transformers, Hasbro has stated that boys don’t want to play with female characters and has had very limited releases of them, but it looks like they have changed their minds, at least for the Generations line. Other nice developments include a large Megatron and a new Optimus Prime. I hate the look of the new Optimus Prime, but I like the G1 colored Megatron with a Tank alt mode. It looks like a retool of an old Armada Megatron, but if it is, it is so extensive it is pretty much a different toy. I find it frustrating that Hasbro has had such a hard time making a good Megatron or Optimus Prime toy. That is why third party makers exist: I love my Hegemon and though I don’t own it, Orion has become a standard for third party toys. I am also looking forward to Brainstorm and Powerglide, both of which have been done by third parties. I am not so excited by the new Windcharger. I like the mold, but I like the one from several years ago much better. But it was so limited, that I could never find one that was anywhere near retail price.  Bombshell is another fun new mold, but since they have released several other Insecticons as Targetmaster-like partners for legends class toys, I don’t expect to get the rest of the Insecticons at legends or deluxe class any time soon. So there is a lot of good stuff coming soon in the Generations line.

 

One thing I have mixed feelings about are conventions exclusives. Most of the larger sets are very expensive, even if you can attend the convention, and if you can not, they are way too pricy. Also, I have not really liked most of these sets. The Shattered Glass continuity is fun, but I don’t feel the need to spend that much money on it. San Diego Comic Con is the exception for me. Because it is so big, the prices are a little better and I usually like SDCC exclusives better than the others anyway. Last year nearly broke me with a Transformers Prime exclusive, the Titan Class Metroplex and the GI Joe/Transformers Crossover Jetfire set. This year looks much different. There will be a set of G1 colored movie dinobots. That is kind of cool, but because the robot modes are so different, I don’t think the G1 colors make them worth buying, especially at the price. But the packaging they come in makes a cardboard fold out Ark/Teletran 1 crashed into Mt. St. Hillery, making the Dinobot packaging much cooler than the toys themselves. There will be a set of Megatron, Jazz, Optimus Prime, Soundwave and Laserbeak and ratbat as instruments that are decoed as an 80s hair band. This is a fun idea that is all kinds of ugly in execution. The molds, aside from the instruments, are from the Fall of Cybertron toys which I did not like much. So the result is ugly and ridiculous. On the other hand, this set would be a good inspiration for a customs contest. These are all fairly easy to come by molds, so add some troll hair and you can make our own transforming rock band. Though, the Laserbeak and Ratbat are from the Animated toy line and are not so cheap or easy to find any more. There does not seem to be any more GI Joe/Transformers crossovers this year. Last years was the conclusion to the set, but the set started at #4, so I was almost expecting them to release #1 this year. But I guess they are focusing on the GI Joe anniversary this year. The last thing I am hoping for, but have not heard anything about is another Titan class toy. There are many characters to choose from, but with Metroplex last year, I am hoping for a Tripticon this year. That may be too much to ask, but on the other hand, the movie is all about dinosaurs and Tripticon is a dinosaur…

 

There were some good third party items also. The Arcee homage looked nice, but honestly, I won’t be getting it. I have an earlier motorcycle version and I like the Hasbro G1 version, so I won’t be spending my money on another one, no matter how cool it is. Though, third party prices have been falling recently. The new Arcee homoage is up for pre-sale at BBTS for $60 instead of $100, like it would have been a few years ago. And there are quite a few third party offerings on clearance. There is a nice looking Mindwipe homage, but now that Hasbro is making Brainstorm, will other Headmasters be coming? The thing that is tempting me the most is the Computron homages. So far, I have seen at least two. I like the looks of the one from Maketoys, but the Warbotron one looks good also. I’ll have to wait to see if there are any others and if there are any price drops like there was for the not-Predicons. Hasbro’s recent releases have made me reevaluate my future third party purchases, but the one area Hasbro has conclusively demonstrated that they suck at is combiners. So, those are the third party toys that are most tempting for me right now.

 

The end of this year and into next will have a lot of ups and downs for Transformers fans and collectors. And it will be interesting to see how the competition between third party toymakers and Hasbro will go. I think Fansproject may have a good idea with making their own original but Transformers inspired toys.

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This is the first toy from the upcoming Transformers movie.  The first thing I want to say is that the pictures in this post are from Hasbro.  I do not have this toy and will probably never buy it.  So the review will be a little more general than usual.  I do feel the need to say a few things about this toy, which is why I am reviewing it without actually owning it.

I like the packaging.  This is a nice looking box with decent art and obvious branding.

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Not counting the shield on the back, I also like the truck mode.  I still prefer the traditional G1 version, but for a modern Optimus Prime, this is ok.  There are a few problems with it, such as the opaque blue side window and the painted on grey bumper on the fender, when the rest of the bumper is chrome.  Also, if they were going to have chrome parts, why not the wheels?  But setting aside the details, the truck looks like a fun toy.

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Here is where it all goes to hell.  But first, the good things.  This is a Hasbro release and it has Chromed parts!  Though the chromed parts are so focused on the chest, that they make the rest of the toy look strange because it is not chromed.  It would look better if the effect was spread out a bit.  I have not seen any pictures of a gun to go with Optimus, but the sword and shield accessories look fairly cool.  Now, on to the problems.  I think this is the biggest one, and the main reason I will not be getting this toy:  He is wearing a folded up truck on his back.  Look at the body.  Skinny little robot arms and a chest and torso that look like they do not transform at all.  Once you put the arms and legs in the proper position, the truck unfolds from the back to cover up the robot.  That is not just lazy engineering, it is almost not a Transformer.  A Transformer should transform, not just cover up.  I understand that in many cases to make a Transformers toy, some use of alt mode paneling, or kibble, is necessary.  But this is going way too far.  I have enjoyed the movie toys because, even if I was not a huge fan of the movies and their “Bayformers”, the toys had interesting transformations that ranged from simple to very complex.  I suppose some of those complex transformations are why Hasbro is trying to go with simpler transformations that the younger kids can grasp.  I agree to some extent.  I like Rescue Bots because my son and nephew can play with them and transform them.  But this is a $60 Leader Class toy.  It is not for a five year old.  The market for this has to be for 10+ year olds and their dads.  While it does not have to be as difficult to transform as the Revenge of the Fallen Leader Class Optimus Prime, it should not be as bad as this.  And I am assuming that flipping the panels around to hide the robot under the truck will be easy.  It might be that getting all those panels to fit together correctly will be a big pain in the butt.  Well, enough on that.

One last thing that is interesting about the design of this Optimus Prime is that much of the robot design seems to be similar to Sentinel Prime from the last movie.  The arms, chest and head have been redesigned to look a lot less like Optimus Prime than ever before.  Some of the key features of Optimus Prime are minimized or completely gone.  He has small arms with small red bits on them, instead of strong looking red arms, or at least forearms.  He does not have the truck windshield on his chest or the grill for his abbs.  He has some extra bits that look like parts similar to Sentinel Prime, or in other continuities, Alpha Trion.  I think there must be some kind of promotion and/or reformatting to explain this.  But, who knows?

This Prime is a bad design with a bad transformation and an ugly price.  And to insult collectors, Hasbro is releasing this as a “First Edition”.  Whether or not the same toy will be released in another wave, or at a realistic price remains to be seen, but for now, they are obviously trying to take advantage of the collectable toy market.  When Hasbro makes something as awesome as the First Edition Transformers Prime Optimus Prime, I am willing to spend a little more to get it, even to get two.  But then they try to take advantage of consumers by offering a pile of crap like this!

Anyway, from a Transformers fans’ point of view, I have decided that, especially with this new movie, these are just not Transformers.  They are something inspired by Transformers, but are completely different.  Maybe the movies will be a little better if I can hold on to that thought.  But even so, this is still a crappy toy.  I am interested to see movie version dinobots, though.  The toys could be fun, even if they bear no resemblance to the dinobots I know.

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This is supposed to be Silas controlling Breakdown’s body after Airachnid tore Breakdown apart and MECH put the pieces back together with an injured Silas at the core.  There are things I like about this toy and things I dislike.  This was going to be one of those characters that I might have repainted, using Takara’s Breakdown to make, but that toy is too expensive and difficult to find.  I would not have got this guy, except he was on a good sale a while back.

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First, we have the head.  I like the damaged face.  I wish there was a third-party head that would go with the Breakdown toy that had his eye patch.  Speaking of heads, it would also be fun to have a head like this that includes the vampire aspect.  Oops, spoiler!

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When you open the chest by swinging it over the head, There is a new piece that looks like Silas’s head with cables and pistons all around it.  This is an extra cool addition to this toy.

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The main body has some chrome trim.  It is black, while on the cartoon, it was a mottled blue, steel and rust color.  The solid black is much easier to produce in a toy, so that is what we have.  And I think it works ok, especially with the truck mode.  I can see MECH painting it to look like a black government SUV.  The other thing to note is the weld lines.  On the sticker sheet they provided a bunch of chrome weld lines that you can put wherever you want to give a kind of Frankenstein’s monster appearance.  The effect is ok, but when I get around to it, I may recolor the toy with some rust and weathering.  I like this mold overall and would recommend that any Transformers Prime fan try to find the Breakdown version.  But since Hasbro never released it, it is expensive.  I have a review on the mold at the following link.  I still need to get around to updating the pictures, but you can get the idea anyway:

https://transformersnstuff.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/transformers-prime-breakdown/

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Like I said, the truck looks like something MECH would use anyway, so I like it.

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This is an Arms Micron figure, so it comes with a micron, whether there was one on the show or not.  The one it comes with is a claw in weapon form and a praying mantis in animal form.  I like it a lot.

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Overall. this is a great toy.  It is a little expensive, but is worth the price, if on a decent sale.  I actually prefer the Breakdown version of this mold, but this toy scores better in many areas.  It has an extra cool factor with the little Silas head inside.

Vehicle mode: 9

Robot mode: 8

Posability: 7

Playability: 9 (added a point for the micron)

Durability: 7

True to Cartoon: 9

Overall: 9 (added one point for Silas inside)

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Here is another weapon set from Dr. Wu to make your Transformers Prime toys show accurate.  If you have read any of my blog posts, you know that show accuracy is something I look for in modern Transformers toys.  So Dr. Wu is one of my favorite third-party shops.  This set is for the show version of Arcee.  There is also a Pink set for the G1 color version.  The set comes with two correctly sized blades for the forearms and two blasters.  The blasters can be mounted on the motorcycle mode, though I do not have a picture of that.  I think they mount facing backwards, though, like exhaust pipes. IMG_20130907_054335_661

The blasters can be held in the hand or positioned over the hand to give the appearance that the hand and forearm transformed into the blaster.

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The blaster splits in two to get it over the hand or to put the handle on.

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There is not quite enough room for the hand to fit in the space, so there is a large crack along the seam when it is over the hand.  I am not really happy with this set because of that.  Maybe I have not found the exact right way to get it to fit properly yet.  Other than that, the look is very nice.  Here is the RID blade and my kitbashed RID weapon with the Arms Micron Arcee to compare with the Dr. Wu set in the next picture.

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The colors and the basic molds make the Dr. Wu weapons better.  But the blaster falls apart and falls off a lot.  I just realized that the figure shown with this set on the online toy stores in the First Edition version.  So maybe the hand mold is different enough to account for the issues.  I honestly have not tried this set with the First Edition Arcee, so I don’t know.  Generally, I would recommend this set for a collector for a shelf display, even if the blaster does not fit well on the RID or AM Arcee.  It still looks great.

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I found Takaras version of Airachnid on a really good sale, so here she is.  The I reviewed the basic mold from the RID version, so I am just going to compare the two and look at some differences with the AM version.  Here is a link to the old review:

https://transformersnstuff.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/transformers-prime-airachnid-part-2-the-review/

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As with most of Takara’s Arms Micron toys, the Takara version (right) is shinier and has sticker apps.  This makes the Takara version much better looking, except maybe for the Decepticon symbol in the chest.   IMG_20130909_144700_884Here is a not so in focus picture of the alt modes.  The Takara version is on top.  The rotors are slightly darker and there are large engines with Arms Micron ports in them.  The engines look ok, until you think about how this is a stealth helicopter and having giant engines hanging out of it would defeat the purpose of the rest of the stealth skin of the helicopter.

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This is still a bad mold.  The head is nice, but you can’t see it because of the kibble.  The arms are crap and the spider limbs are bad.  But the Takara version does look better than the RID one.  IMG_20130909_144321_712

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This spider micron is the best thing about this toy.  I think you can get the micron separately in a Decepticon five pack of microns.  The weapon mode is a little oversize, but is still fun.

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She is forever doing “The Robot”.  If I had a lot of extra money laying around, I would get the third-party version that has a motorcycle mode.  It looks very cool.  Maybe you could take the face off this toy and put it on that one?

Vehicle mode: 8

Robot mode: 5

Posability: 4

Playability: 5 (higher score because of the micron)

Durability: 6

True to Cartoon: 3

Overall: 5

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Well.  Ultra Magnus.  I don’t know what is going on here, maybe a change in the she show after the toy was in production?  It must have been something like that.  Why would Hasbro release a Transformers Prime toy that looks nothing like the character on the show?  Then, they release a redeco of the RID Optimus Prime mold as Ultra Magnus.  At least the redeco looks like Magnus from the show, mostly anyway.  So this review will look at both and compare them a bit.  Generally I like to find toys that are show accurate.  On the other hand, I like toys that look good and have a nice transformation.  So I like and dislike aspects of both of these molds.

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Here is RID Powerizers Ultra Magnus.  I think this mold is better than the other.  I also think the head sculpt is better.  I have not tried switching the heads yet, but I might.

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He has one little missile that is sort of like his G1 missiles.

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His main weapon is a gimmicky hammer.

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It turns into a gun and has a light up feature.

IMG_20130909_162423_353There is a little post so you can lock the weapon in position instead of having to hold it like other powerizer weapons.  This makes this one of the best powerizer weapons.

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I am not sure what this truck is supposed to be.  It is a little more like the Animated Ultra Magnus than like a Prime redeco.

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Beast hunters Ultra Magnus is more show accurate, but is a redeco of the RID Optimus Prime mold, so it starts out at a disadvantage.  But there are several major alterations.  The head, of course.  The chest plate is different, as well as the extra shoulder whatevers.

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They rotate down so they can launch missiles.

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Here we can see one of my main problems with this mold: that truck kibble on the back.

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He comes with an undersize and erroneously colored Forge of Solace.  I am thinking that the Dr Wu set coming out shortly may help.

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The silver Dr. Wu gun for Prime works well with him.

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There are several things to note about this truck.  First, it came with a wingblade rig on the back.  That immediately came off mine.  Next, there are no stacks.  There are holes for them, but nothing is there.  They are shown in several of Hasbro’s pictures of this toy.  I thought it might be a defect; someone just forgot to put them on mine.  But it turns out that late in the process they decided to leave them off.  IMG_20130909_164105_368IMG_20130909_164022_016IMG_20130909_164017_218IMG_20130909_162643_867

It’s a bad picture, but at least you can see the general shape.  The two are completely different.  I like the Beast Hunters one because it is more show accurate, but the RID one is a nicer toy.  I like the Beast Hunters Ultra Magnus a lot more than the RID Optimus Prime his mold comes from.  It even looks right standing next to the First Edition Prime.  They look similar, but are different.  Definitely a family resemblance, but not just a recolor.  So if the RID Magnus was an initial design that got changed before he was on the show, but after the toy was in production, I wonder what Thundertron is all about?  I don’t have him yet, so I can’t see the face clearly, but it looks to me like he might be Alpha Trion.  I guess we’ll never know.

Vehicle mode: RID: 8, BH: 7

Robot mode: RID: 8, BH: 7

Posability: RID: 7, BH: 8

Playability: RID: 8, BH: 8

Durability: RID: 7, BH: 7

True to Cartoon: RID: 2, BH: 8

Overall: RID: 5, BH: 7

Not a great showing for Ultra Magnus, and definitely sub-par compared to other Transformers Prime toys.

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With high hopes after Springer and Sandstorm, here is Blitzwing, one of my favorite characters.  While I am mainly a fan of G1, I learned to love Blitzwing from Transformers Animated.  That was a great character and toy.  This Generations Blitzwing is a case of so close, yet so far.  I am kind of happy with him, but the toy has so many problems, it is hard to overlook them.  On the other hand, it has some great features and looks good standing on the shelf.  So here he is:

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Tank mode.  It’s a little flimsy, but overall not too bad.  It does have jet thrusters sticking out the back though.

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So, this is a pretty good tank.  It has tank parts like a gun barrel, treads, and rotating turret.

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The jet is a little weaker.  But on the plus side it has very few of the problems that Transformers jets have: giant, ugly leg or arm kibble underneath.  The arms make up what looks like FAST packs with rudders attached.  Or, if you like Robotech, the transformation bears some resemblance to an Alpha fighter, with the arms on top of the main fuselage.

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It has a tank barrel sticking out the back and clearly viable from the underside.

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The tank barrel can be positioned forward.

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The thrusters and stabilizers are small and on ball joints, so they move around a lot.  The main wing folds completely into the leg in other modes.

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This pic shows two things: deployable landing gear and the fit of the nose cone.  The nose cone is made of soft rubber and you have to swivel it up and mash it down over his head and squish it down in front of the cockpit.  This is difficult.  There are a few more pictures of this below.

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Here is robot mode.  It looks nice, and had pretty good articulation.

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There is weapon storage on the back of the shoulders.  Unlike Voyager Soundwave, he comes with two weapons.

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Like the Transformers Animated toy, he has three faces.

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Schwarzenegger

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General Rommel

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Kremzeek?

The shoulders do not stay together well.  They flop around all over the place.  A third-party is releasing a different head and a kit to fix the shoulders.

IMG_20130907_062154_769 1IMG_20130907_062143_973 1IMG_20130907_062135_331When you rotate the arm up, the purple shoulder section that holds the body together rotates up with the arm.

Overall, this is a fun Transformer with some nice features, but it is plagued by poor engineering.  I like it, and it is worth it for a collector, but it would be very frustrating for a child playing with it.

Robot mode: 9

Jet mode: 7

Tank mode: 8

Posability: 8

Playability: 3 (it falls apart if you play with it in robot mode, and the other modes are none too sturdy either)

Durability: 8

True to cartoon: 8

Overall: 6

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