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Monday, December 26, 2011

TFC Hercules: Structor and Dr. Crank

I hope everyone had a good holiday these past few weeks, I've been out of town spending time with friends and family but it is always good to get back home for some more Transformerin'.

I ordered these guys a few months ago from Robot Kingdom overseas mostly due to them being such a good deal. RK's policy is to wait until all the items in your order have arrived before they ship; in other words they won't ship individual items unless you place individual orders. After I placed my order I realized I probably should have ordered them separately since I didn't want to wait on Dr. Crank to be released before I got Structor. Well fortunately they were released within a week of each other! So my Hercules count goes instantly doubles! Also the release of these two figures marks the first time fans can actually start assembling Hercules since they have all of the body (Heavy Labor and Dr. Crank) and at least one leg (Structor). I've seen a lot of people do this online and I've decided to wait until I receive the final two members before I assemble Hercules. I can remember doing a similar thing for Devestator when I was a child; I got all six members over the course of a couple of months but I didn't put them all together until I had every part. I just feel like the characters themselves wouldn't decide to combine until all members were present and who am I to tell them they are wrong?

At any rate, these are two great figures again from TFC Toys. Part of what I really like about these figures is the transformations feel very G1. They aren't too complex and transformation only takes a few seconds. I really feel like ease of transformation has taken a real backseat to complex transformation in modern toys. Sure, I like a challenge just as much as anyone (MPM Starscream and Leader Prime, I'm looking at you!) but it also becomes a chore if you just want to fiddle with your figures for a few minutes. TFC is bringing that simple feel back with Hercules. When all six figures are released it should only take 5 minutes or so to transform them all from one mode to the other and then to combine them into the gestalt.

So we are four down, two to go! C'mon Neckbreaker and Mad Blender!

Structor aka Scrapper

Nice details in vehicle mode

Dr. Crank aka Hook

This bad boy has one hell of a crane!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas and Star Trek

Nothing gets me into the holiday mood like Star Trek movies.

I didn't really get into Star Trek until 1994, at the tail end of The Next Generation (TNG). I was able to catch about half of the final season on TV, and then my very first Star Trek movie was Star Trek: Generations; the one where Captain Kirk and Captain Picard meet. From there my interest really bloomed, I was able to watch all the TNG re-runs on Fox, I caught new episodes of Deep Space Nine when they aired (most of the time) and I was right there at the beginning of Voyager in 1995.

When 1996 came along and the second TNG movie (Star Trek: First Contact) was set to come out, I put it off for a while due to Jurassic Park coming out on VHS. When I finally did go see the movie it was well into November of that year and the Christmas season was in full swing. I was absolutely blown away and to this day it remains my favorite Star Trek movie. However for some reason I established a close bond with Star Trek and the Christmas season. It didn't help things any that I got some First Contact toys for Christmas that year not to mention more movies and TV episodes on VHS.

So every year when Christmas starts to come around I get the urge to watch Star Trek movies. Whereas most people probably like to watch Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone or It's a Wonderful Life I really get my nostalgic kick from the Trek library, even though they have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas story-wise. I guess you could call it a Pavlov effect, but that is one hell of an association for just a month or so worth of events. Maybe it just means I'm easily trainable. I usually watch episodes year round, but just the movies at this time of year. I started out with First Contact as I usually do, then moved on to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (just because it has been so long since I've seen it) and then to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home to round out the season this year. I really should just watch them in order, but I've seen II, IV and VII waaaay too many times and so I have to even them all out.

Now all I have to do is resist the temptation to buy everything again on Blu-ray. But damn those transfers look good.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Black Shadow Returns!

Since Hasbro finally decided to release the last wave of Generations figures I have been able to get my hands on Black Shadow (Hasbro calls him Sky Shadow I'm sure due to copyright loss or maybe they never even had it at all since he was originally a Japanese only character). Anyway, I've already made my thoughts clear on the original Black Shadow and this guy is no different. In my opinion he is leaps and bounds better than his counterpart Thunderwing. He is also one of the only Japanese characters to be released on domestic shores in one form or another (and I don't count the Star Saber). I'm not one to usually gush over black figures but this guy really takes the cake; the red on black works so nicely together and he has a real throwback feel for me, like he belongs in the '80's. His headsculpt is also leaps and bounds above Thunderwing's. Unforunately Thunderwing seems to suffer from tiny-head syndrome, while Black Shadow's seems much more appropriate.

I also really like how Hasbro has again highlighted the detail on the sculpting of the figure. This is something they have been doing a lot more recently (ever since Thundercracker). And as an added bonus, the chest piece is re-sculpted to match the look of the original G1 figure.

Nicely done Hasbro; I expected the head but not the chest as well!

Past and present, not bad at all!

This was a really nice way for Hasbro to finish out this line of figures, here's hoping there are more Japanese exclusive characters in our future; c'mon Blue Bacchus!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Something a little different in the AFA game

I've been collecting AFA G1 Transformer figures for about two years now and have learned a lot about not only the market, but the collectors and sellers that make up the fanbase. AFA collectors are a very small group and so pretty much everyone knows everyone else which makes anonymity very difficult. However more times than not this is an advantage because it aids in preventing unsuspecting buyers (like me sometimes) from pulling the trigger on a bad deal or working with a crappy seller. The organization and interconnectedness AFA community is really its biggest strength, and I am glad to know the excellent individuals who make up that community.

Anyway, ever since I started collecting AFA figures less than 1% of the figures I have seen have been from the last two years of G1. In fact, I've never seen AFA Action Masters before. So a few months ago when I got a good deal on eBay for some sealed G1 '89 and '90 figures I decided I would get them AFA'd and start from the other end of things. Most G1 AFA collectors focus on 1984-1987 (If that far! Many just do 1984-1985!) so it isn't often you see the later year figures. So here I present the AFA figures that came back the other day in all their late G1 glory!

Action Master Snarl - 85 (!)
Action Master Devestator - 85 (!)
Race Car Patrol - 70 (boooo)
Monster Truck Patrol - 75 (eh)
Battle Patrol - 75 (eh)

Overall not too bad. Like I have said in the past I am less concerned with the grades than with just having them cased up. Protecting them is the most important part to me. I have five other sealed Action Masters that I will be sending off sometime in the near future and hopefully they'll do as well as these did!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Moar Headmaster Warriors!

I have been in a frenzy to complete my Headmaster Warriors lately! In the past month I have obtained more of these guys than I have in the past three years! I got lucky with these two and didn't have to throw down a whole lot of cash for them, the recent KO's have really made them a lot more affordable.

Lione on the left, Rodney on the right
Lione's transformation is identical to Trizer's
Five of the six Headmaster Warriors!
Gratuitous money shot...all the trademarks are there.

One more to go, watch out Shuffler I'm coming for you!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Little European Flair...

When I started to get close to finishing my American G1 collection I began to look across the shores to Japanese and European exclusives. I decided that I would concentrate on the Japanese G1 first and then move on to the European G1 (which also crosses into G2 territory). I did this because I already had a few Japanese exclusives anyway and I considered them more desirable (and thus more expensive) than the Europeans. Since G1 figures only get more expensive as time goes on, I like to try to buy the more expensive figures first so I don't end up spending a fortune in the future. Case in point: I remember back in 1999 when the Liokaiser giftset was going on eBay for about $300. In 2008 when I was finally able to purchase Liokaiser it was for over $700. And this year I've seen the giftset go for over $1000. So yeah, get the expensive stuff out of the way before it gets insane.

So needless to say I don't have that many European G1 figures in my collection. I've picked up a couple here and there, but it was never really a focus. However a deal came up a few weeks ago that I just couldn't pass up, the prices were too good. So as a result I added Rotorstorm and Thunderclash to my collection. I had owned these molds previously since they were both released under the Machine Wars banner in 1996, however I've always loved the gaudy colors of the early 1990's figures and so it was a thrill to finally get these guys. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.


Gah! The blades are pink!!!!

With his Machine Wars counterpart - Sandstorm.
When Machine Wars was released all of the gimmicks of the figures had been removed. So Sandstorm's missile launchers don't fire whereas Rotorstorm's do. It isn't so bad on this figure, but it becomes much more apparent on the other Machine Wars figures.

Identical except for the missiles.

Thunderclash is notorious for suffering from GPS so I didn't want to risk transforming his trailer for the picture. In fact when I got him he was in truck mode and I only transformed him once (very, very carefully) to robot mode. Unfortunately he will probably never be transformed again because of the GPS but at least he is pretty.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Japanese Exclusive Deszarus

I've been on a Japanese kick lately...

Deszarus (often called Deathsaurus) was one of the very first Japanese Exclusive figures I obtained back in 2007. He came after a particularly good year in which I got a big tax refund from the IRS. Of course that will never happen again. When he arrived I was surprised at how big he was, he practically towers over most of my other G1's, I mean he is really on par with the city bots! Up until that point the only other figures I had from Victory were Star Saber and Victory Leo so even though he is huge, he was in good scale with those guys.

You know, I don't know a lot about Japanese Culture, but I think Deszarus's alt mode is supposed to be some sort of Godzilla like monster which is apparently a big thing in Japan. Kinda like Bigfoot is to America, but I've never seen a Bigfoot Transformer. That would be awesome though. Anyway, if you have seen the one with Mechagodzilla, you know what I am talking about here. Deszarus's gimmick is his Breast Force action; in which he works kinda like Soundwave by hiding minions in his chest. Although he is the only Breast Force member that can hold more than one (I assume this is because he is the leader. The only other Breast Force members are those that make up Liokaiser.) It is a pretty neat feature, but it makes the figure very boxy with a big square hole in his chest. This figure has some great qualities about it and I'm glad I was able to add it to my collection.

'Bot mode
'Bot mode sans Breast members
Eagle and Tiger Breast members
Godzilla mode
Aaaand Grimlock, for scale purposes

Saturday, November 12, 2011

TFC Toys Heavy Labor...a sturdy Long Haul

Two down, four to go. Heavy Labor has arrived. I must say that after receiving Exgraver from TFC Toys I was not very impressed. The 'bot mode seemed spindly and the transformation clunky. However after opening and playing with Heavy Labor I am much more satisfied. This figure is very nicely constructed and gives me a lot more hope about Hercules (Devastator) than Exgraver did. Plus he is a lot more fun to play with. TFC seems to have refined their processes to produce a superior figure with Heavy Labor. I only hope this trend continues. I'm not sure who my second Constructicon was as a child, for all I know it could have been Long Haul (which would make this very appropriate) but again it may have been Hook. For some reason I can only remember getting Scavenger and none of the others. But I can also remember playing with all of them and I still have them all from my childhood so I know I got them somewhere! Anyway, this is the Long Haul for my grown-up inner child, if there is such a thing.

That is one big dump truck!
The robot modes match each other nicely. Good color combinations.

Vehicle modes
I imagine all of these figures in this set will be about the same size, as they should be. However it is too bad there isn't a way to make all of the vehicle modes in scale with each other and still make the robot modes the same size. Apparently when you do something like that you end up with this monstrosity.

Keep it up TFC, I am getting really excited about Hercules now!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Headmaster Kirk

Japan has a lot of exclusive Transformers. I mean a lot. It all started back in 1987 when the Japanese and American continuities split off from each other. In America "The Rebirth" aired as season four of the series and was only three episodes long. Japan however got an entire series named "Headmasters" that ran for something like forty episodes. As a result many new figures were released that never saw the light in America. Kirk is one of those figures.

Six unique headmaster heads were released in 1987 without larger bodies. These were supposedly headmasters "in-training" and had not acquired their larger forms yet. Unfortunately they were released in very limited quantities and are very hard to come by today. That is until a third party company released unofficial versions of them last year. Flooding the market with replicas it had the effect of decreasing the price on the authentic versions much to my delight. Before the unofficial ones came out I had already collected two of the six, and now I have added a third.

These guys are just really neat because you can switch them out on any standard size headmaster for a completely new look. I know that there were more of these unique heads planned for release later in the series but for some reason or another they never came to fruition.

Chromedome with Stylor
Chromedome with Kirk. Notice the tech spec difference.
Kirk is slightly larger than Stylor, but the colors are almost identical.
Kirk, Trizer and Loafer
Three down, three to go!
The final three I am missing (Rodney, Lione and Shuffler) are the more expensive of the six but hopefully I will be able to get them at a good price with all of the reissues on the market.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


A buddy of mine has been sending me Gobots as a gag lately. His most recent package included these two little gems: Sticks 'N Stones (left) and Marbles (right). Little does he know I actually love Rock Lords and gladly welcome any into my collection. I never had these two as a child so they were a lot of fun to discover. In fact I may just have to find some more of these guys to collect.

Rock modes
I don't know why but I find rocks that change into different types of robots very appealing. And don't even get me started on Jewel Lords and Narlies!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Distractions, distractions...

Occasionally when something really good comes along it impedes my collecting abilities. For the past two weeks that thing has been Batman: Arkham City on the PS3. I haven't really played any games since BTTF so this has been a long time coming. Whenever I get a good game I usually will focus all of my energy on it and let everything else fall to the wayside for a while.

For the most part I am not a comic person. I don't collect comics (other than TF series), I don't follow comic based characters and I don't see movies based on comic books. You would think that I would given my history with Transformers but I just don't usually find comic characters that compelling or interesting. Except for Batman. I wouldn't go as far to say that I am a hardcore Batman fan, but I can certainly appreciate the franchise much more than any of the others such as Superman, Iron Man or the X-Men. Maybe it is because I feel like the Bats is more grounded in reality than the other superheroes (no doubt helped by the latest release of movies). I still haven't read any of his comics, but I did watch the Animated Series in the '90 (amazing!) and have kept up with all the movies.

I never played Arkham Asylum (the predecessor to Arkham City) however I heard nothing but good things about it. I actually had planned to play it first but upon seeing the new game I just decided to go ahead and give it a try. At first I didn't really think I would like it, but it has turned out to be a spectacular game! Not only does it feature the voices of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and the Joker respectively, it opens up the world of Gotham into a playable environment that is full missions and enemies. I never thought I could have so much fun not killing bad guys!

So Transformers have taken a back seat for a while to the likes of Two-Face and Penguin. And unfortunately another big distraction is being released today: Uncharted 3. Let's hope I don't burn my Playstation out.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm Raiden your hard earned cash! Yes...yes you are.

Around roughly the same time I discovered Road Caesar I also discovered Raiden. The year was 1999 and I was just starting college. Access to a constant T1 Ethernet port had opened up the entire internet to me and I was beginning to learn about all of the exclusive lines and toys in Japan. Raiden really stuck with me because I have always been a big fan of trains. I used to go down to the rail yards with my father and just watch the trains come and go when I was little. Cabooses were my favorite and I was most disappointed when they were retired from rail service. Unfortunately Raiden has no Cabooses, only engines. But they are still very cool little engines.

The trainbots that make up Raiden are a bit of an oddity. They were part of the original Diaclone line (much like the constructicons) but were not brought over with the rest of the toys due to what Hasbro deemes "cultural differences". Anyone who knows anything about Japan knows that trains are just a part of life over there, unlike here in America where air travel is the prominent method. Personally I think if they had been brought over earlier as part of the '85 or '86 line of figures they would have worked just fine. Kids obviously love trains, especially when they all combine into a giant robot. Unfortunately the trainbots never made it to the US so Raiden became a Japanese exclusive as part of the Headmasters line. And that makes him very expensive today. It took me over eight months to find all six figures in good condition.

From left to right: Shoki, Suiken, Kaen, Getsui, Seizan, Yukikaze
Shoki, leader and upper torso of Raiden
Getsui, Night Warrior (aka ninja) and right leg
Yukikaze, Cold Warrior and left leg
Suiken, Tactical Warrior and left arm
Seizan, Mountain Warrior and right arm
Kaen, Hot Warrior and lower torso
The Thunder and Lightning Warrior, Raiden!
I still think this guy would have been a great adversary to Devastator (rather than the Dinobots) not to mention successful in America. Back in 2001 Takara pulled this move again when they released JRX as part of the Car Robots line; another combining set of bullet trains. Those figures were released under the Robots In Disguise line in America and as far as I know sold just fine.