If there’s one thing the majority of the fandom loves that I completely agree with, it’s combiners.


Devastator, Raiden, Scramble City, G2 repaints, JRX, Road Caesar, TFCC Nexus Maximus (snigger), Brave toys, official, 3rd party; I love ’em all!

After the Devastator battles of 2012, it became pretty clear even to Hasbro that, yeah, there is a market for these things after all.  But what was the problem to begin with?  Why did Hasbro think the market would not respond?


History time.  Hasbro’s problem with doing Combiners during the early days of the CHUG era was a practical one; they didn’t believe retailers would know how to stock them given the mixed scale would place them into different cases, and not all retailers stock all assortments.  Given how annoying the distribution was for the Energon combiners back in 2003/2004, I guess they know what they’re talking about.  After the shelf-warmer disaster that was the ROTF combiners (Energon Bruticus and Superion – both clogged up the aisles until FP released add-on packs), and the failed Titan Devastator combiner all in 2009, it’s not surprising they were cautious.

The solution: test the market with a video game tie-in, and make all five components the same scale so they can all be distributed in the same case assortment.  This gave the world FOC Bruticus (the first rule of Wreckers club is we DO NOT TALK ABOUT RUINATION), and whatever your personal feelings on the matter; he sold very well, but with very mixed reactions online and in the fan community (leading to 3rd party add-on sets, and an entire replacement figure) and obviously the water had been tested, and it was lukewarm.

While that was happening in the retail stores, online dealers were selling TFC Hercules parts for up to $100/ £80 each, and Maketoys debut combiner Giant was selling for $350 / £300, and the online buzz surrounding these figures was HUGE!

I’ve spoke at great lengths about how the greatest legacy of 3rd Party releases to date has been the free market research that they gave Hasbro / Takara, proving just how much disposable income there is out there waiting for updates of these characters we all love.  While Takara took the direction of upping the quantity of Masterpiece releases and quality repaints, Hasbro and Takara took a decision to commit the mainline Transformers to Combiners… in a big way!

Combiner Wars has been a huge success, and by making the entire line (excluding Leader classes) interchangeable and interactive (harkening back to that original Scramble City ethos of 1986), case assortments were no problem for retailers, especially with savvy fans knowing exactly what they want.

For me, the best part of Combiner Wars has been the randomness; Sky Lynx… a torso-bot?  New characters with Rook, Alpha Bravo, and Offroad.  G2 repaints including the never before officially released Stunticons (don’t let us down on Defensor now guys).  SCROUNGE for goodness sake!!!  Sure, there have been miss-steps along the way – such as making Blast-Off a plane, keeping Groove as a scout class ‘bot, and how token the Hasbro first attempt at Scattorshot was –  but while Takara has capitalised on these miss-steps, Hasbro has also been quick to rectify and listen to fan feedback.  And good on them for doing so!

Of course, while this has been happening, the 3rd Party Combiners haven’t gone away, and in many ways Hasbro are still playing catch-up, as we’ve now had 4 different Devastators, 2 Computrons, 2 sets of Dinobots, Abonimus and all the Scramble City guys, and are already well in to the realms of Liokaiser, Dinoking and the Seacons.


Today, we’re going to be taking a look at Maketoys third combiner offering; Guardia, their version of the Protectobots, and we will be doing so alongside comparison shots of the Combiner Wars Defensor.


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Groove is possibly the hardest figure of the team to do right for a multitude of reasons.  His scaling compared to his other team members makes zero sense, but this is G1 influenced, and Maketoys seemed to judge the fans wants, needs and expectations better than Hasbro with this one.

The robot mode for Axle just oozes character.  They’ve managed to do a complete 180 with the character and actually make him look cool.  His hyper-stylised and uber-poseable lean robot mode is very reminiscent of manga stylings , and I think people could criticise the company for going such a different direction for Axle, however, I think we’ve all come to expect this sort of creative liberty from the amazing designers that Maketoys employ.  If this was the first figure out of the gate from a new company, I’m sure it would be more divisive, but after Giant and Quantron, we have a bloody good idea what to expect from this company and designer, and stylised cool-ass ‘bots are the way to go.

Hasbro’s first attempt at CW Groove is a bit… well;

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I’m not with him.

Transformation wise, the Hasbro bots win.  I don’t want to have to say this four times, so presume I feel this way about all of the others except when I mention otherwise.  The Maketoys ones are not awful to transform, I found them easier and way more instinctual than both Giant and Quantron limbs.  I managed to transform all four of them from robot mode to vehicle mode without instructions all within the running time of Jaws 3 (1 hour 20).  I say this a lot, but I genuinely believe that had these been packaged in alt. mode, the first transformation experience would be so much more positive it would improve people’s perceptions of the transformations.


Groove’s G1 figure was the first Transformers motorcycle attempt, and he was always a bit basic; making him a police bike might have hurt his aesthetic, but it provided the extra bulk necessary to pad him out for a combiner limb.  It’s a bit unfair to compare the two we have here, as the scale is so different, not to mention the disparity in pricing.  Hasbro CW Groove makes a great pocket money bot, and kudos to Hasbro for trying to think about scaling by making Groove a smaller bot and chest attachment, even if the majority of fans want the old-school look.  As I always say, it’s great to have the option, and I love the attempt to add to the legacy of the brand not merely draw from it’s past that characters like Rook deliver.  Overall, I like the idea of the small bike mode a lot more than the execution.  Whereas the Maketoys one looks damn cool in both modes, and the bike mode is an especially pleasing end result.



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Streetwise is a bit of an also-fan in the Transformers history book, except for an excellent Christmas issue of the UK comic.  Perhaps it was a tad redundant having a second police car on the good-guys side?  To further compound bargain-Prowl comparisons, they also made him a Nissan Fairlady.  Doh!  Thankfully, two things made this guy stand out back in 1986, one was his fairly unique transformation making his front windshield his chest, and the other was his unique head-sculpt, completely separate from his combiner peg giving him a lot of character.   Thankfully, the Maketoys release; Rover, follows this unique transformation, which is great because I feel it gives his robot mode a really unique look.  Not so the CW figure, as it could be one of 100 characters, but then none of the Combiner Wars characters seem to integrate car parts into their robot mode particularly well, leaving Prowl’s robot mode hood-less and killing a key part of his character in the process.

Head wise, I cannot fault any of the head sculpts of the Combiner Wars line, they are an absolute highlight of the line across the board, and Streetwise is no exception.  Rover’s is equally good, similar enough to be recognisable as Streetwise, while different enough to not get sued have a character all of his own.


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Transformation; again you have to give it to Combiner Wars, just for it’s fun fiddle factor and done in seconds change.  Rover isn’t too bad, but the more involved transformation does give him split down the middle syndrome, similar to the P:RID release of Vehicon.  I feel this is the price we pay for a more involved robot mode which integrates parts.  Contrary to this, the CW Streetwise is uber clean in vehicle mode, though fairly generic with a bit of a shell-former robot hiding within.



“What’s got four wheels, a £50 price tag, and goes Woof? Maketoys Rover!” Thanks Alan.

Technically, he transforms into a Sheriff’s car, rather than a police car.  You wouldn’t know this looking at the CW release, which just has police lazily branded on him, and no efforts to even place a sheriff badge on him somewhere.  Repaints have killed a lot of the car molds for me in the CW line, and I really like how distinct Rover looks, and his SHERIFF badges are hard to miss.

MT Himed / First Aid

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First Aid, probably considered a Ratchet replacement for the 1986 range after the great cull of The Movie.  First Aid’s face-plate has somehow always managed to convey a lot of character, and that’s definitely carried over into this sculpt.  The inverse red cross on his chest somehow manages to look more Christian Rock album cover than I think it was intended.

Somehow, the boxy little ambulance guy ends up looking super suave.  They’ve somehow kept him lean and athletic.


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The transformation on Himed isn’t so bad, and honestly, I’m pretty amazed by the engineering involved.  That’s a crap ton of robot packed into a tiny little alt. mode that ends up smaller than the CW toy.  It’s one of the cleverest transformations I’ve played with, and at times makes you believe in mass shifting.  Compact.


It’s hard to make an ambulance look super dynamic and interesting, but at least Himed looks like First Aid in alt. mode, as once again, that alt. mode could be any one of maybe 6 different characters.  The clear windshield makes a big difference to me, and I also like the lack of huge, visible weapon ports.  Yet all of the Maketoys guys can use their weapons for a weaponised vehicle mode no problem.

MT Katana / Blades


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Katana is probably the most interesting figure in the set, in terms of what has come before with small helicopter ‘bots, and what we get here.  Sure, we’ve had some decent helicopter toys with varied designs in recent years; Springer, CHUG Blades, Skyhammer – but few in a deluxe scale.  Tomahawk came the closest, but his legs suffered a lot.

What we have here is a hyper stylised, lean, athletic poseable figure complete with all the hyperbolic terms I used with all the other figures, but with the added bonus of having a fantastic transformation.

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Katana is the biggest member of the team, limb-wise, and he’s just great.  So much fun to fiddle with, pose and play with.  I know that rotors becoming swords is the biggest cliche to hit Transformers since green construction vehicles, but I think the melee weapons really help give him a bit of extra character and identity within this team.

In vehicle mode, Katana looks great, and little details such as fold-out landing gear makes a real difference.  I also welcome the four helicopter blades over the two on Blades.  Overall, I like the design solution to hide the arms as guns on the CW version, but I like the clean helicopter mode and the option to attach weaponry  the MT version affords.


Interestingly, back in 2012 I opted for Hercules over Maketoys Giant, I preferred the bulk of the robot mods and found the transformation of the TFC versions to be more fun.  Giant was just too far out there aesthetically, and different from my idea of Devastator.  Fast forward a few years, and we have Quantron, Guardia, FP Intimidator and the FP Bruticus upgrade kit, and these combiners have such a distinct look and styling, that what I once considered a weakness, I now consider their greatest strength.

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Maketoys transformation really are the other end of the spectrum to the CW, with CW looking like it hasn’t learned anything about transformations other than articulation since 1986.  Is this a plus or a negative, and for which set?  Well, that’s up to the individual, with many people preferring the Fiddle Former aspect of the CW range, and yes, they are fun, yet sometimes there is something more rewarding in a complex transformation, no?

Maketoys give me everything I want in a combining Bot, and I don’t mind the price-point as they feel like quality products throughout, and at no point was I scared of breakages, but at the same time there is a part of me that would have liked slightly simpler transformations.  I feel there is a middle ground somewhere between complexity, pricepoint and aesthetic, which has not been hit yet with combiners, though I feel Classics era figures had the balance right, but no combiners.  Go figure.


Despite the matching character choices and end game, these figures really are aimed at two completely different markets, and that’s pretty cool.  The costs involved, not to mention the ease in which you can pick up the majority of CW figures, make the CW an obvious choice for the majority of collectors.  Should you want something more, and you’re not afraid by the price of entry, then Maketoys have the stylised bots for you.

So which one is better?  Quite simply, only the individual can decide.

Ultimately, I personally feel that with just a few minor changes, the CW would be great toys and very display worthy, but like a lot of Hasbro figures post 2011, they’re just a bit too simple, light, and cheap for me.  I find the clip-on wheels particularly lame.  For that reason, and space reasons, I am keeping the MT, but I’m holding out for a G2 Defensor set, so I can have the best of both worlds.


As soon as Vulcan is in hand, I will do a Hotspot comparison, and a combined mode comparison.


Thanks for reading.

You can find a full selection of Maketoys products right here.



Galaxy Shuttle is one of the most well known and popular of the latter day “Victory”-era Japanese Transformers, even gaining popularity and traction in the West where he has had zero fiction appearances.  As such, he tends to be a very expensive and hard to acquire item, with even average condition loose versions of the toy selling out within minutes of the doors opening at even the biggest Transformers conventions like Botcon.



Stupid flap creases!

Why is this?

Maybe it’s because he is really, really good!  A very solid latter-day Transformer which relies on very few gimmicks, other than his ability to transform from a really cool robot into a really nice Space Shuttle mode.  No Pretender shell, no Micro-Master companion or launcher, no third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh mode, no head / breast / target / power mastery, no Action Mastering,; just a solid toy.  Such a solid toy that he was also snapped up by Gig for the Trasformers line a year later, and then retooled and re-released as a Brave toy six years later in 1996 as part of the Brave Command Dagwon line.



Galaxy Shuttle


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Shuttle Robo as is sometimes known (as he was called in his first appearance), was released in Japan in 1989 under the designation C-326.




The robot mode, as mentioned before, is big, bulky and stunning.  It’s no wonder he was later used for Brave as he in many ways looks more like a Brave figure rather than a Transformer, except for that awesome face that screams Heroic Autobot.  He is a big toy compared to others of the time, whilst obviously not being as big as a city-bot, but that’s because his character is a big robot in the show as well.  Unlike Blast Off or Astrotrain, this guy is a space shuttle capable of carrying huge robots inside him which doesn’t shrink down to insane sizes in robot mode.




His transformation is a joy, everything moves instinctively, but annoyingly his wings do get in the way sometimes.  You can pop them off to make the transformation easier, but repeated popping on and off of the wings tends to cause stress marks to the softer plastic material holding the wings in place, and it has been known to perish and crack on a few unfortunate cases.



That’s not paint scratching… it’s from re-entry.

Once in vehicle mode, he really shines.  You can interact with the Micro-Masters play pattern in a couple of different ways, and you can even open up his cockpit to pop a Micro-Master pilot in there, which does make me wonder why they didn’t include one with him to increase the value of the package and bulk out an already close to bloated line.
There have also been rumours that Galaxy Shuttle was originally supposed to come with a launcher of some type, but I’ve never been able to confirm that, as it’s very hard to search for that without getting assaulted by Richard Branson propaganda.



I can’t decide which I prefer, so have both.


You can also pop open his cargo bay doors (his arms basically) to add a further bit of play value, and his weapon stores nicely, becoming his tail-fin in shuttle mode.





He also interacts nicely with the Countdown base playset, as seen above and below, with his rear blasters molded to fit in place of Countdown’s booster rocket.






Thunder Dagwon





I’ve always loved this dual packaging design that you can find on some Brave, with a solid package art piece on one side, and a window showing you the toy on the other.  This is something Joustra Diaclone toys did very well and I’d like to see it more often in today’s toys.



Technically, Thunder Dagwon is actually the combined form of DagThunder and Thunder Shuttle, but most people refer to this guy on his own as Thunder Dagwon.




And all new mold DagThunder is included in the package, comprised of Thunder Rai and his Thunder Bike, but they are in a completely different scale to Thunder Shuttle.  While they’re a cool addition to the package, they just store on the back of the figure and don’t really affect the look of the figure like other combining Braves, so I rarely combine them and keep them separate.  I should also mention that T’Dawg here comes with another spear weapon, not pictured, as I removed it from the figure when i took it to a nerd meet-up for safe-keeping, and I’ve promptly lost it.








Thunder Rai on his Thunder Bike


The figure has some extensive retooling, in robot mode this is most noticeable with his new head sculpt.  Not everyone likes his head-crest, and it’s very removed from the Transformers aesthetic, I’ve even heard it described as a curled up gold poop sat on his fore-head, which I think is a tad unfair.  However, it’s no argument that Thunder Dagwon does look a lot more angry and threatening than his Autobot counterpart.




His new chest required that Takara change the entire cockpit canopy, introducing a swivel joint so the flashy chest is contained within the cockpit in alt. mode, but this obviously gives him a very different look in alt. mode as well.  Other than that simple twist of the cockpit, and the folding of his ears away, he transforms exactly the same as Galaxy Shuttle.  Only easier.




Why easier?

Well, they have completely changed his wing attachments, almost making them a fixed double joint which allows for slightly better rotation and clearance, meaning they’re never in the way during the transformation.  Which is great as they can’t be removed.  I also prefer the wings on Thunder Dagwon, as they are more space-shuttley, with Galaxy Shuttle having molded gun detailing on his wing-tips, seemingly just to make it harder to find good condition examples in the future.




Some say the additional front wings do detract from the space shuttle mode a bit though, meaning you’d need to do a hybrid of the G1 and Brave toys to get a perfect Space Shuttle look for the real nerds out there.  You know, the sort of nerds who’d appreciate this designation on the tail-fin.



Nerds like me.


Overall, I actually prefer Thunder Dagwon, I love the head, the over-the-top chest, the more stable wing transformation and wing accuracy, and I think the flash of colour and ostentatious chest makes him really stand out.  Hard to do against a wall of other over-the-top Brave toys.





That’s not to take anything away from Galaxy Shuttle, as both are great toys.  I’ve actually wanted Galaxy Shuttle for years before I eventually got him this year at Botcon, whereas Thunder Dagwon just… sort of happened, I guess.  The scarcity and value of Galaxy Shuttle (not to mention the difficulty in finding an un-yellowed one) means that acquiring one is an event, even for the most jaded of burnt out toy collectors, and this too-many-a-grail piece would be a stand-out choice in any collection.  I can definitely see why it is so popular.




But I’m not done yet… that’s not all the secrets that Thunder Dagwon contains.  The sharp eyed amoung you might have noticed a difference in Thunder Dagwon’s gun in the pictures above.  The grey cover on his weapon does more than just make his gun look different, it enables another one of those lovely over-the-top Brave combinations I enjoy talking about.


Shuttle wears his branding proudly!


Yes, while Galaxy Shuttle contains the ability to port onto Countdown for a shuttle launch aesthetic (don’t ask where the solid fuel boosters are), Thunder Dagwon contains the ability to re-create another slice of real-world awesomeness from the Space Shuttle era.  Rather than the usual Brave robot combination, this is a vehicle combination, one that’s too big for me to photograph in my light box or more traditional brick-work setting.



Yep, Thunder Dagwon uses his weapon clip to “combine” with big bad Fire Dagwon, a huge cargo plane.  This is very cool, and the connection is so strong that you can hold the plane upside-down and Thunder Dagwon isn’t going anywhere!  Fire Dagwon is himself a massive beast of a robot, one who follows the traditional mecha formula of combining with another robot, Power Dagwon, to make an EVEN BIGGER robot; Super Fire Dagwon.


I’m in a Dagwon sort of mood.  Maybe we’ll take a look at that next week…

Thanks for reading!


17 May 2016

Fans Toys Stomp!!!


No, wait, that’s not right!



I received this bad-boy over the weekend courtesy of the great guys at Kapow Toys, the fourth release from the Fans Toys Iron Dibots line; Stomp, an obvious homage to Dinobot Sludge.  For many people this completes the set as a lot of people are happy with MP08 Grimlock in dinosaur mode (lets ignore the stupid New Rock boots that came with Scoria), or they may have invested in the Reximus Prime over-sized KO of MP08, for me – given the quality of this piece – I already have my pre-order in for their unfortunately app-named Grindr.





As many of you know, I am something of a line-whore.  As such, when I received Scoria (Slag), as impressed as I was with the sheer size of him, I didn’t fall in love with him.  It didn’t help that mine was partially damaged preventing the back-pack folding away properly in robot mode.  Their Swoop analogue Soar was well received by most, but I felt the neck joint for dinosaur mode prevented it from being all it could be, but I loved the fact you could chose between TV accurate blue or comic and toy accurate unified red.  Snarl was my first Dinobot as a kid, so as such Sever was eagerly anticipated, but scary hip joints in mine limit how often I pick him up and fiddle with him.

Enter Stomp; a Sludge homage who is very, very impressive.  The team is really coming together now!




Stylistically, he fits right in with his team mates (I’m saving the group shot for all five of them together), and he looks great.  Out of the box, you notice instantly how heavy he feels, often seen as a mark of quality.  Coupled with great joints, it’s nice to see the quality backs up the heft.




He comes with his sword which fits nicely into his hands, and a hang-gun that looks more like his old missile launcher than his G1 hand-gun.  This is a bit of a disappointment, as the rest of the DiBots have come with their hand guns (obvious exception being Soar), and the missile launcher doesn’t launch, or clip-on to the dinosaur mode – I’m not sure if that’s an option that people want, but to me that would make it more complete.  The one major change over the original toy that I’m sure 99% of people will be very happy with, is the new animation model style head, which of course was also used in the comic.




He comes packaged with some new parts for Sever which shows Fans Toys commitment to aftercare too, as well as swap-able cartoon eyes to re-create the controversial scene in the movie (some people hate that scene), and a little screw-driver to help replace it.  It’s a great add-on, but one I will never use as I don’t want to risk ruining the lovely chrome on his head.




If you’ve ever held the G1 toy, you know pretty much what to expect from the transformation.  I know I’m normally one to complain about toys packaged in robot mode, as the first transformation should be the reveal (stop me if you’ve heard this), but Stomp’s transformation is very intuitive and he was no problem to get into dinosaur mode WITHOUT INSTRUCTIONS, which to me is the mark of a fun transformation.




The legs can be tricky, and because I was relying too much on the G1 to guide me, I missed the thigh extender for a while, but everything comes together very nicely.  Like his DiBots counterparts, great efforts have been made to eliminate or minimise the amount of animal leg kibble visible on robot mode to stay faithful to his animation model, and they do this by once again following the path laid out by the excellent MP08 by utilising inner leg space, leg space which also contains his tail.  They fit a lot in, but again, everything works very intuitive and I guess it’s sad that we take this innovation for granted, but at least the figure does what we want it to.  For me, the greatest “eureka!” moment with this figure was the rear dinosaur legs, with the lower leg very neatly storing away inside the upper leg.  Genius!  Genuinely brilliant.  The way the “toes” splay on the front legs to assist the robot hand storage is also very neat.




In alt. mode, oodles of chrome which is mostly lost on the robot mode make this guy pop.  A lot.  His tail, upper torso and claws look great, as do his gold parts.  He has three points of articulation in his head and a working jaw, one which hides an almost-standard-by-now-gun-hidden-in-dinosaur-mouth.  His front legs are very poseable – a huge improvement on the G1 – with a thigh swivel and the toe movement helping to make Stomp a bit more stompy.  His rear legs are a bit disappointing, as they only have lateral movement, albeit two points of it.  His tail has two points of articulation, and is held nicely in place for plenty of tail-wagging.





I like this guy a lot, definitely my favourite of the set.  Both modes look great and he’s fun!  His rear robot mode torso maybe feels a bit hollow, but then that’s done to help his dinosaur head fold away to minimise kibble and it works well, but I will miss storing old chewing gum in his chest as I did with the G1 toys as a kid (what?!?).



30 years later… REVENGE!


If I had to nitpick one problem with this entire line, it would be that there is zero weapon storage.  That seems VERY, VERY odd in 2016.  I get that in some ways they are limited by the G1 inspired-transformation, but many other 3P companies still find a way to store weapons, and at the least Takara have figured out a way of sticking the weapons on car mode for an attack mode, and let’s face it, that DOES have a precedent with G1 Dinobots and their missile launchers being able to weaponise the dinosaurs, something that the Gigapower figure actually utilised (which you can read about here on the always excellent Square One blog by Maz.



Missile launcher in use!


I’ve often had this thing where I like Sludge to be MASSIVE, as in, bigger than Grimlock.  As such, for a while there I was considering waiting for the Gigapower Sludge.  Well, given that Fans Toys are 4/5 and Gigapower are still only 1/5 with what I felt was a way too big Snarl with Guttur, I think my choice to stick with Fans Toys is a wise one.



Nothing to do with this review, I just love this image.


Stomp and many other Fans Toys products are available from Kapow here.



Two days back, we took a look at Boss on this blog, today, we’re looking at Scorch, as part of a week long look at the Turbomasters cars, a quick one each day, and then a recap and group shots at the weekend.  They are firmly G1, sometimes known as Euro G1.5 and occasionally mistaken for G2 figures.  Some people know a few of the molds from Machine Wars and even the Universe line of repaints, but not all the molds have been re-used.

The Turbomaster Cars for instance, were released in 1992 in Europe by Hasbro, and they were also released by Takara as part of the Operation Combination series in Japan later the same year, but they never saw release in the United States, ever, and to date have never had any repaints, retools or reissues.

The gimmick for this series (other than Transforming, of course) was missiles!  Lots and lots (and lots, seriously) of missiles.  Their rivals are the Predators (sometimes called the Predator Jets, who we will be looking at next week) also has the same gimmick, but with much more generic – and fragile – launchers.

So, Scorch then…



He actually has one of the most awkward robot modes of the group, mostly because of a very unique transformation that rotates his front wheels up towards the top of his cab.  His head is quite reminiscent of Armada Red Alert’s head and gives him a distinct look as a robot.  His light-piping works to great effect and he had very powerful missile launchers, and comes with enough spare that you can clip them on to the side of the legs.  Annoyingly, it was during the photo-shoot for this that I realised my Scorch pictured here, has the wrong missile-launcher.  This has since been rectified.


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As a truck, he should be fairly generic and boring looking vehicle, probably the most generic of the team.  Luckily, a big-ass missile launcher and flame decals help, as everything with flames is 22.7% cooler, and he totally pulls this off.  The real appeal of this guy comes with just how quick he is to transform back and forth, something which gets lost inScorch the “super show accurate” complex transformations we find so often in the adult collectible field.  As part of a play pattern, a kid could transform this guy sub 10 seconds without any risk of damage.

The central section on Scorch is prone to paint wear, as it’s actually all clear-pink molded plastic with the yellow bits painted on.  Between this and the easily damaged fire pattern on the hood, it’s not always easy to get this guy in great condition, despite their relative cheapness in Europe.

This guy has had a few different re-names along the way; in some parts of mainline Europe he is known as Dragon, and in Japan where he was released with Shadow Jet / Falcon he was called Fire Road.   Curiously, these releases under Operation Combination are considered completely separate characters to the European releases, and not just different names for the same characters.



Fireroad and Shadow Jet

I only actually realised while researching this blog post that his 2010 reimagining for Botcon saw him named Turbomaster – not the first time a subgroup name has been reused for a single figure (we’re looking at you Beast Wars Insecticon and Dinobot).  Using the Classics Hound mold, the figure is a great little toy, but as a Scorch re-imagining it leaves a lot to be desired, mostly because the head-sculpt wasn’t changed and there wouldn’t be room for a proper sculpted Scorch head as part of the Hound toys transformation.  As always; I was happy to see the re-imagining of an obscure figure into the wider CHUG line, but without his team-mates, he is just a floaty individual which doesn’t quite fit anywhere.

Next:  He saved every one of us!


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I just got a brand new toy in to look at, the fourth in the Fans Project Lost Exo Realm; Severo.


I’m quite a fan of FP, I’ve been collecting their stuff since City Commander hit, and have bought pretty much everything they’ve released since then.  Some would say the once undisputed kings of the 3P game have fallen from grace, thanks to Maketoys, MMC and Fans Toys, but another way of looking at it is that FP are keeping it real with their own design choices and aesthetic, rather than switching out to the fashionable choice of Masterpiece style.

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Rear box artwork

Which leads to the question; in a world where most collectors have switched to MP, are the Lost Exo Realm figures needed as Dinobots?

-_- 3

Inside box flap

Lets look at the competition; Toyworld have finished their set which started strong and seemed to lose some along the way.  G-Creation Shuraking are over half way through and seem to have really found their audience though there are rumours this might be their debut and swansong.  Fans Toys keep on keeping on with their MP Iron Dibots, with just Stompy to finish the set and their own version of Grimlock as Grinder for those who no longer wish to keep MP08 (original or OS KO) wearing high-heels.  Gigapower still seem intent on releasing their second offering, they might be missing the boat, but offer the biggest bots on the block to compensate.  Last but not least we have the incredibly cool, solid and no drama Fall of Cybertron style figures from Planet X – all five of which are out and looking awesome, with an additional Paddles retool of Sludge for those that need the sixth member (which includes me).

-_- 4

Straight out of the packaging

(Side-note here to mention Iron Factory have a very cool offering on the way as well, but very much their own thing based on the War Within Dynobots and own scale, pre-orders now open)

-_- 8

A Throne fit for a King

So with all those in mind, do FP’s Dinos still have a place?

Let’s have a look at Severo, their version of Grimlock, and then make a decision.

-_- 7

Long Live the King, the King of Kings.

Usually, I’m quick to moan about figures packaged in robot mode; I think alt. mode packaging gives us a valuable fun first transformation (nearly always easier to unfold a figure without instructions than collapsing a robot back down), coupled with the actual reveal of the robot which harkens back to the promise of those original 80s toys: Robots in Disguise.   With this figure, I will make an exception.


A throne fit for nothing.

He’s not the first Grimlock to come with a throne, even the official MP08 figure has had an official throne released, but the difference in quality is worlds apart; the FP version is a solid mold made of durable plastic with a quick wash to give it some texture and bring out the detail, and is also a two piece construction like the Hasbro offering, but screwed together.  If you dropped a screw on the Hasbro version, it would probably tear through it.

-_- 9

Severo’s throne just looks cool, and the option to store weapons on the rear is a sensible one, especially with the Game of Thrones style sword arrangement.  Even without the final figures released and only swords available, this works very well.  Very cool FP, very cool indeed.  I can see people buying the rest of the Dinos just to collect the swords to make this an amazing diorama.  And yes, it includes a crown, slightly bigger than the MP08 version, which actually gives Severo a bit of a Jothri feel, making him look more petulant and dangerous.

-_- 9-2

His robot mode is exactly what you expect; big, strong, and angry-looking.  This is a Grimlock that means business; more Marvel Comics than Sunbow animation – Blaster wouldn’t stand a chance.  I wasn’t expecting it, but there is a nice bit of detailing on the back of his arms which gives a little nod to the War Within Grimlock robot mode (a personal favourite of mine and one I hope to own better executed than the Titanium), it’s little details like this that show the care and attention FP put into this guy, drawing on multiple versions of the character for inspiration.  The head sculpt is interesting, managing to go classic and feral without the overly detailed “exposed teeth” design that has been popular for the character since Maximum Dinobots – I don’t miss it.  He has chunky hips, but nothing distracting, I only mention it because stylistically he closest to the Toyworld re-imagining which – in my opinion – suffered from child bearing / combiner hips.

-_- 14

Melee-Master for the win

He comes with his popular G1 style gun and sword, as well as two massive extra miniguns which work really well on dinosaur mode.  As is tradition with the retail release of the Exo-Realm, he has Target Master style companions, not one, but two.  Pottao and Kottav are mean looking little bruisers that look like they could wipe the floor with most other Solerons.  Each can become a melee weapon, but it’s when you combine the two together into it’s final Melee-Master form that you get a mace like weapon that totally suits old Grimmy.  I mean Severo.  No, I mean Grimlock, this guy is every inch Grimlock.

The transformation is fun, easy and instinctive, enough so that I have been able to do it without instructions both ways.  Obviously, the transformation borrows a lot from previous Grimlocks, who mostly all follow the standard G1 transformation (except Pretender Classics and Don Fig’s CHUG update), which makes him a bit easier to handle ‘structions free, and the legs borrow more than a little from the MP offering.

-_- 12 Opt

So onto Dinosaur mode, how is he?  Honestly, I feel like the neck is too long, and the tail too short.  The neck is probably about right in all honesty, we just expect Grimmy to have a shorter neck due to the original toy and animation model, and I think it looks better than the Toyworld version in all modes for a comparison – as I felt that had a looong neck.  The tail could have down with an extra fold to enable it to be longer whilst still storing in alt. mode, but it’s a small complaint.  It also would have been nice if his claws were separately articulated like the MP, but this might be a good thing given how sharp they are.  Also, I’m not a huge fan of the joints that hold his wings / dino upper chest in place, as they sort of stick up in dino mode, mostly because they double as weapon pegs and posting the miniguns in place does mitigate this look massively, but when un-weaponed they are noticeable, and for the sake of 3-4mm, then could still be functional and less obvious.  Other than these complaints, he looks great in dino mode, especially with his team-mates.

-_- 12

So, does he fit in a collection?  Absolutely, though it depends what you want him for.  If you just wanted a single Grimlock all on it’s own; I recommend MP08 above this, as I love that toy a lot.  However, toys don’t exist in a vacuum and Grimmy needs his team mates.  If you’re looking for MP style, you currently cannot beat out Fans Toys.  If you want combining Dinobots (always controversial to some in the fandom), there are other choices available.  If you want stylised FOC guys, see Planet X because really, they are awesome and their Grimlock analogue Vulcan is extremely awesome.

-_- 10

Severo, Columpio, Velor, and Cubrar

However, if you want a decent re-imagined Dinobot team for your Classics Collection, then I feel that the FP Exo-Realm are the way to go.  The CHUG figure is almost ten years old now (ye gods!), and wasn’t a great figure in its day and has remained all on his own for all that time (although, when you know it’s an update of Pretender Grimlock not G1 Grimlock it makes a lot more sense).

-_- 13

Solerons: Diaclone Drivers and Melee Masters.

The Lost Exo Realm are definitely more than the sum of their parts.  Each release has bolstered the other releases and the closer we get to them being a team, the happier I am.  Are they flawless?  No.  My Columpio needs wrist joints and I always want my Sludge’s to be bigger, and he still needs me to do the hip swap but the after-care replacement parts were at least provided.  I don’t like Cubrar / Slag’s head and his Splinter Cell goggles, but the chrome horns really pop.  I wish Volar / Swoop had more in the way of locking the legs into place and hiding his hands, but he comes with a choice of bodies and look at that wingspan!

-_- 11

4 down, 2 to go.

As a team of re-imagined Dinobots, these guys are the best game in town.  Once you factor in all their weapons, their Melee-Master companions or Diaclone Driver tributes (depending on if you go for the regular releases or convention exclusives), and their choice of G1 or Diaclone colours, they really do become a set that will please most CHUG collectors.  I look forward to their Snarl and their mysterious Fembot completing the team.


LER05 – ???

Severo is now in stock and available to order from Kapow Toys.




This week, we’ll be taking a look at the Turbomasters, a quick one each day, and then a recap and group shots at the weekend.  They are firmly G1, sometimes known as Euro G1.5 and occasionally mistaken for G2 figures.  Some people know a few of the molds from Machine Wars and even the Universe line of repaints, but not all the molds have been re-used.

The Turbomaster Cars for instance, were released in 1992 in Europe by Hasbro, and they were also released by Takara as part of the Operation Combination series in Japan later the same year, but they never saw release in the United States, ever, and to date have never had any repaints, retools or reissues.

The gimmick for this series (other than Transforming, of course) was missiles!  Lots and lots (and lots, seriously) of missiles.  Their rivals are the Predators (sometimes called the Predator Jets, who we will be looking at next week) also has the same gimmick, but with much more generic – and fragile – launchers.

First up, we look at Sub-Commander of the Turbomasters; Boss.





As a robot, Boss looks simple enough.  His paint job and stickers don’t do much for him, and only a few things make him stand out from the crowd; One is his incredibly Prime-esque head and faceplate – possibly a case of primus apotheosis, and the second is his pink windshield / chestplate, which may be what confuses some people into thinking of him as a G2 piece.  His over-sized weapon also looks quite boss in this mode.


0__0 (43)


It’s his alt. mode and the simple but fun transformation that make this guy shine.  The Turbomasters each have unique missile launchers which can be integrated into their vehicle modes and in the case of Boss this is very much essential to his transformation. His spare missiles can be stored on his alt. mode as pictured and while they can be stored the same way in robot mode, the results are not quite as photogenic.


Obscure European card artwork

Like a lot of the toys from this era, I love this guy.  Away from any “Master” gimmicks, be they action, target, head, micro or shell based, and just fun transformations that look like cool cars and fun robots.

Boss has had relatively few fiction appearances, other than a never resolved Dreamwave sub-plot and some appearances in the IDW continuity, certainly nothing that has showcased him like some of the other European figures such as Pyro.

Boss is also known by the name Blizzard in France, and Mach Road in Japan where he was packaged in a two-pack with Flare Jet (Snare) in some of the best packaging I’ve seen, packaging so nice I did start to try and collect them even though I’m a loose collector and I already have both the toys.  I’ll try and get some good photos of some of at least one of these two packs for the final article.  While nothing about the toy was changed for this release, his packaging artwork was reworked to give him a more toy accurate face.



Japanese Vs. Europe


To date, Boss has had no re-imagining (despite how easy it would be to release him as a retooled CHUG Blurr – are you listening Fun Publications?), third party or official, and his name has not even been re-purposed.  He remains a woefully under-used part of the TF lore.