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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Thoughts on Transformers Classics Powerglide and Onslaught

Picked up these two at the local Target this morning, and spent the day transforming them, photographing them, to form these semi-informed opinions. Enjoy!


Onslaught is a nicely detailed S.W.A.T. heavy armored vehicle, something that is almost realistic, but has enough details to be cartoony. The paint work is well done, as are the sculpting details. This mode has a ton of play value, both the top hatch and rear doors open, the wheels roll, and the menacing claws flip down for added destructiveness.

The turret on top rotates 180 degrees (90 each way), and the S.W.A.T. shield mounts on top of the turret. There is a button on the turret to activate a very quick siren or a gun blast, along with flashing lights. The gun sound will play as long as the button is held down, though the siren stops after one noise.

The only things I do not like about this mode are the gun barrels and one wheel that triggers a noise. The gun barrels pop off, and it seems like they were originally meant to be missiles, but that feature was dropped. They do not lock in place very well, and seem like an easy piece to be lost. The middle wheel on the left side does not spin freely, it is the other trigger for another sound, something akin to the vehicle driving. This ruins the ability move the vehicle along the ground, and I wish there was a way to raise the wheel to disable the sound.

Powerglide's vehicle mode is nicer, as the choice (the A-10 Warthog) is a cool plane, and consistent with the G1 toy. The mode has much nice detail, though there are many breaks in the lines because of the transformation that takes away from the general flow of the mode. A middle launcher/Gatling gun (with no painted details) can be detached from the undercarriage. A more obvious bright orange button triggers flying and shooting noises, along with flashing lights in the cockpit and engines. The engines have clear orange molded on their rears, which may supposed to represent flames, but it more takes away from the sculpt.

The robot parts blend in alright, and the placement of the hands and arms is another direct nod to the G1 design. The undercarriage is ugly, but how often do you spend looking at that? Landing gear under each wing and the cockpit flips down for display, and has rolling wheels. The paint is minimally, gray with red details, though the different call letters and insignia is a very nice touch. Every time I open a new Transformer, I am reminded how nice it is not to deal with a sticker sheet.


Onslaught transforms quite easily, essentially unfolding with some nice touches like a spring-loaded gun on his left arm, and wheels that folds into his legs. The S.W.A.T. shield mounts on his right arm, though his turret does nothing but look cool. There is the common articulation, the joints feel solid, and aside from the same issue with the gun barrels, this is a good, if basic robot.

The head sculpt is excellent, remindong me of the helmet worn by Master Chief in Halo a lot. I do wish the head was on a ball-joint, because with the sculpt, Onslaught is looking down a little. Adding that ball-joint would have greatly improved the available poses.

Powerglide's robot mode is a failure, with this terrible top-heavy design that throws off any sense of proportion. This seems to be the result of the designers trying too hard to maintain the homage to the G1 'bot at any costs. What throws off this sculpt is the engines, two huge pieces (with the orange flames facing front) that make the chest twice as wide.

The head is too large, and oddly asymmetrical to the point that it seems a piece of the mold broke off and there should be two 'ears' instead of the one. The arms are stubby and skinny, but the legs aren't too bad in comparison. Another negative point is the lack of painted details that are shown on the back of the box. I know some of the small details get missed, but so much being left undone takes away much of the percieved value of the toy.

One final thing: The way the transformation is set-up, you may end up activating the sounds so much that you'll want to pull out the batteries. The button ends up below the head, and its not the best place for it.


Neither figure falls into the must-buy category, though I have no regrets about Onslaught and many about Powerglide. Onslaught is a nice, menacing toy, if not a little plain, and has excellent play value. Powerglide needs major changes to be a fun toy that's not awkward looking. I love the idea of a plane transformer that does not have wings sticking out, but this toy feels incomplete and too much a slave to the original design.

(Click the photos to view them unnecessarily larger.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Review - Megatron (Leader Class)

Another review from the Animated line, this time it is the Leader-class Megatron toy, which transforms from a Osprey-like helicopter gunship (missing are the rotating blades to allow for VTOL). Here are my thoughts:


This mode (my favorite of the two) feels more like a $40 toy than Bulkhead does, though they share many of the underlying mechanics. First off, they are nearly the same height, but by design, Megatron looks much more streamlined and elegant. This is more a pure toy, in the sense that he is possible, all the weapons are removable, and there are less play gimmicks to him than Bulkhead.

Articulation is good, the head rotates to both sides (not 360), the arms and legs again have the ratchet joints for better possibility, and his knees bend (not that Megatron would ever kneel before anyone). Both swords are removable, and can be stored on his back, and the gun is also removable. This is a great design choice, as it allows for a more varied posing. Action features include lights flashing and two phrases ("Crush the Autobots" & "Where is the All-Spark?") along with evil laughter when the Decepticon logo is pushed. The gun fires a clear red projectile, and this is neat, because the gun has to be cocked by pulling on the back before it can be fired.

The Headmaster head packed with Bulkhead fits onto Megatron, though lights and the voice do not change. I wonder if this feature was removed late in the production, as the notches exists, but nothing is mentioned in the instruction pamphlet.


The transformation is boring, lacking much of the excellent engineering found in Bulkhead. This leads to a functional vehicle mode that feels like the movie version, where the body folds into itself and little more. Much of the robot mode is hidden, thankfully the canon attaches to the underside of the cockpit to hide his head. A transforming sound plays when the cockpit is lowered over the head, and pressing the Decepticon logo plays a helicopter sound.

The swords transform into the helicopter blades, and they spin in tandem (this must be done by hand, there is no trigger. A trigger would have likely screwed up the rest of the figure, so it was likely best that this was left off. There are non-tractable landing gear in the front and rear, and that does it for vehicle more.


Megatron's robot mode carries this figure into a 'glad I bought' category. There is a lot to like, from the restrained coloring palate, to the general playability of the figure. Like Voyager Prime, this is leaps and bounds better than the Cybertron Megatron found in the 2-pack. With his restrained action features, easy transformation, and durability, I think this will become one of the favorites of kids, and kids at heart.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Review of Leader Class Bulkhead

Found the first release of the Leader class in the new Animated line at Toys R Us this week. For not wanting this toy when the early pictures were released, Bulkhead turned out to be one of the nicer figures so far. And this is why...


A little short is the first impressions once Bulkhead was free from tape and ties, but there is a pleasing weight to the toy. There is a nice amount of sculpted detail around the robot body, and the paint is applied well (for a change). The Autobot symbols on his chest doubles as a button that triggers one of three phrases, along with flashing lights, and his head turns and mouth moves. The sound bites are good quality, though I have no idea if they are show accurate.

Articulation is good, with excellent ratchet joints at the arms and legs (the kind that click), which is a proper choice given the weight of the figure. The arms have good possibility, and the knees bend (just in case). Downsides of articulation is the head has no movement because of the action feature, and the hands are stuck due to their action features (a switch opens the claws, and a switch spins the blade). If the blade was made removable, or could retract, it would have made a better figure. There are four removable air torpedoes that do nothing but easily fall out, but at least they are removable.

Not pictured (because I forgot) is the Headmaster head that is included. Once attached, it triggers a new voice and different colored lights. This is a cool added value, and will work with the Leader Class Megatron.


I like the transformation, because it shows how well the engineers hid much of the body to avoid Bulkhead becoming a shell-former. Much of the vehicle folds into itself, the wheels are hidden, and the turret hides under the shoulder pads. Once in vehicle mode, the turret locks over the head, and a variation of the transforming noise plays.

The vehicle is a cartoony armored military vehicle, and this mold looks good. The six wheels roll smoothly, the air torpedoes rotate, and the guns on the turret moves. The Autobot symbol still acts a button, now it triggers a siren and flashing lights. This is a fine vehicle mode, but nothing spectacular.


This is a very fine toy, fun to play with, well built, with a couple small downsides. $40 is a little over-priced, and paying any more on the secondary market would likely lower your satisfaction level. I cannot compare this to the voyager class toy, because I don't own one (and not planning on getting another) but by itself, this is a nice addition to a collection.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Review: Generation 1 Mirage

Now for a throw-back review of Mirage from Generation 1. This is a wedding present found at a thrift store that included the box, directions, and catalog. No weapons, but you can't be choosy when it comes from thrift stores.


Well, its a G1 figure, so that mean the arms move at a ninety-degree angle, the fists rotate, and that's about it. The remaining sticks give some nice details, his head is painted well enough, and this toy works well as a little statue.


After a simple transformation, Mirage becomes a Formula 1 race car, well detailed with the stickers, some painted-on details, and nice coloring. Behind the open cockpit is an chrome engine, and the rubber remains well on the wheels.


This is a good Gen 1 toy to track down at a reasonable cost. One of the pluses with this toy is that the hands are attached, so makes it a little easier to find a decent looking one. Sure, the weapons are missing, stickers are peeling, but this is one of the nicer G1 toys to stumble across.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Toy Review - Darth Goofy

Today's review will be short and sweet, because there is not too much to tell.

Darth Goofy is an exclusive to Disney theme parks, part of a series of mash-ups between Disney and Star Wars Characters. Other figures available include Mickey Mouse as Luke, and Donald as Goofy. This year, the theme switched to the Muppets and there is a PVC set available at the Parks (and on eBay.)

Darth Goofy is a fun little statue, good for sitting on your desk. There is limited articulation: the arms are swivel at the shoulders; head rotates (though tends to pop off); and the waist rotates. The legs are locked in due to his skirt, so any articulation means nothing.

Darth Goofy comes with a slightly cartoony lightsaber, and that's it for accessories.

You'll pay around $12 in the parks for one of these, which isn't too horrible considering the inflated prices of everything in a Disney Park. Of course, to get one at the Parks, you'll need a ticket (well, at Disneyland you can get a 1 hour shopping pass), and it's not worth the trip for this alone. The other reliable source is eBay, where one is available for $16.

I'm glad I own one, but I do love most things Disney or Star Wars related. Dollar-wise, the value is very low compared to the run-of-the-mill figures found on the pegs. But Darth Goofy is not run-of-the-mill.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Transformers Universe Classics Toy Review of Sunstreaker and Prowl

Long time, no update. A lot has happened since I last updated (bought a house, job ended) and now its time to start this up again, with a little different spin. I'm going to review things in my house, starting with two of the newest Transformers.

I bought these at Toys R Us, they did not have any Octane in stock, and he is due at the house on Tuesday. Finding these was a welcome surprise among the new Animated figures, but does that surprise equal fun toys...


Sealed in the package, I did not like this toy as much as Prowl. The pictures made it look boring, and the vehicle mode was a little too plain. However, the figure has really grown on me and it is a much better toy than Prowl.


The neatest feature on the robot mode is how the head it deployed. To do so, the front chest piece is rotated down, and a mechanism raises the head. His ears (for lack of better terms) are spring loaded and pop out to the sides when the head raises. I like this robot mode, the lines are clean, articulation is good, and nothing is ready to pop off. His head has a ball joint for full range of movement, even with the mechanism, and he is able to stand quite well. One oddity are the tale pipes located at crotch level, kind of odd placement.


Following a smooth transformation, Sunstreaker becomes a bright yellow sports car, reminding me of a fictional Lamborghini. Not much here, wheels all roll fine, his weapon stores under the car, and the robot parts are well hidden.


I really like this toy. There is a fun transformation, the weapons stay on the toy, and the license plate reads WE R 84.


On the opposite end, this is a toy I should return for a refund, if not for my completest nature. The best I can say about Prowl is that the paint job is decent, and the shoulder missiles are attached, which makes one less thing to lose.


First off, I hate the head/neck area. For some reason, the designers wanted to include a little automorph action, in the form of a spring that pops the head up when the hood is opened. Problem is, with the head resting on this little black piece, articulation is reduced to a swivel joint. Next issue, the arms have terrible shoulder joints, which leads to akward poses thanks to the wheels hitting the car doors. The attached missiles lack any kind of paint, giving them a bland look.


The transformation is not fun, mainly because the doors have a tendency to pop off their ball joints. Once in car mode, it is an improvement over the robot mode, but not too much. The detailing is nice for a sporty police car, but the seams needed for transformation stick out way too much.


See above. Quite possibly my second least favorite of the classics line (Starscream remains first.) Please visit my Flickr page for high resolution images featured in this review.