Continuing our look at the Action Master line, today we look at a small subset of two vehicle playsets, the Decepticon Action Master Action Blasters. Check out the advert below to see what you’re in store for.
Axer / Axor
Axer was an all new character for Action Masters, mixed in with more recognisable “legacy” characters as we discussed in last weeks article. He came packaged with his Off-Road Cycle. As with all good Action Masters, this accessory could transform in leui of Axer transforming, having given up the power of transformation to become stronger, faster, and cheaper to manufacture.
Although don’t expect the toy to fire missiles from the sidepod like in the picture.
This is Axer in the plastic. A nicely detailed figure who gives a few things away about his previous transformation, his blue leg wheels denote that he was a ground based vehicle, and his chest looks like a car faring in the manner of some of the great TF cars of all time, complete with bumper. Like Prowl, his Autobot equivalent, he is a car partnered with a motorbike, and he uses the seat back of the bike as a very small shield, and his hand-gun can be used as a weapon in conunction with his partnered motorbike.
The motorbike is all kinds of funky, and with flames on the faring you know it’s fast too(!) Pegging the hands onto the handlebars involves bending the arms in which can put pressure on the already prone to detaching AM shoulder joints (being seemingly held together with pixie dust and good faith), and the split leg positioning to get him seated looks very uncomfortable, the vehicle could perhaps be a little bit thinner to allow the figure to stay in position a little easier.
The fiction for AM characters was always very little, focusing mostly on Grimlock’s battle to save the other Dinobots, and as such it’s never really been explained if the partnered accessories are sentient or not. It’s often assumed that the creature partners such as Wing-Thing, Catgut and so on are sentient, but nothing has been written on whether the vehicles are anything other than mere equipment. For the sake of these articles I’ll continue to use the phrase “partenered with”, because regardless of the sentience of the equipment, it comes partnered with the figure from a sales POV.
The cycle transforms into a Battle Platform of some kind, with the wheel opening into a far from optimal protective rubber and spoked shield, the seat detaches and becomes a stand t help with balance, the twin exhausts flip forward to become missile launchers, and a little flap opens on the sidecar so another AM can peg onto it, utilising the 3 3/4 action figure standard of a peg hole in the foot, offering no real benefit that standing a figure next to the platform wouldn’t offer. As an adult looking at a 25 year old collectible, it’s not the best of transformations; as a kid I’m sure it would have been great fun.
Axor was reborn and slightly renamed as a ROTF-era Lockdown repaint with a new head. Unlike some of the newer AM homages like Krok and AM Thundercracker, I’ve never been a huge fan of this new figure as Axer. I’ve always felt that the figure aesthetic is far too movie-esque to have a place in a modern CHUG collection, however it’s the only game in town for an Axer update, and probably the only one we’re likely to get. The oddest thing about this release isn’t the choice of figure, as much as the fact it was released as a mainline retail figure, not an exclusive or club figure. Very odd indeed for a character as obscure as Axer.
It’s not the only time Axer’s name was re-used though, it was dusted off in 2001 for a RID two-pack, using a repaint of G2 Laser Cycle Road-Pig (Axer in name only, as it borrows zero styling from this characters look). So the first time Axer got a transforming figure it was a motorcycle, like his partner, and it’s only recently in 2010 that he transformed into a car.
It’s an odd-pairing, and while it might not be terrible accurate to the original Axer, no-one can say the Lockdown vehicle mode isn’t awesome looking.
Axer shares a mold with the European exclusive Circuit figure, and as such the Axor / Lockdown mold was used to make a modern update to Circuit in the first TFCC Subscription Service range. We’ll take a look at that in an article next week, but that’s a quick sneak peak above.
The third release of Starscream, an enduringly popular character. After his death in the movie in 1986 and death in the comic during the Underbase Saga, Hasbro seemed keen to return him to the fold, first as a Pretender and then as an Action Master, before his G2 release.
Losing much of what made his silhouette identifiable, his non-transformable figure loses his wings, keeping only his cockpit chest as a reminder of what the Air Commander of the Decepticon fleet had once been. His colour scheme is an odd-one, following more closely his Pretenders colouration rather than his more popular cartoon or G1 appearances, hence the blue arms and legs. Losing his null-rays, Starscream is down to one weapon, but he does have that awesome looking shield which looks like it would protect against… well, very little.
Luckily, befitting his rank, he was partnered with his Turbo Jet. I’m sure this awkward looking vehicle more than makes up for his lack of a flight capable alt-mode, seemingly based on a human sized jet rather than a Transformers sized vehicle like the rest of the AM accessories.
Turbo seems to be one of those early-nineties power terms, as the Turbo Cycle and Turbo Racer were also used as other AM vehicles.
With a more involving transformation than it seems at first glance, the Turbo Jet can become the Starscream Uncomfortabler. Oh, sorry, it transforms into a battle chariot attack platform. My bad. Looking like a piece of gym equipment designed purely to frustrate newcomers, the attack platform has a pair of (non-firing) missile launchers and a place for Starscream’s gun to store. Like Axer’s vehicle, it features a spring-loaded mechanism, but rather than springing missile launchers forward (which at least looks cool) it’s just a part of the transformation. There isn’t that much you can do with this in this mode, and it’s functionality seems less than the Turbo Jet mode. Yet, it has to transform, because that’s the point of the line.
AM Stascream has no direct modern-day update because, lets face it, there are hundreds of other Starscream figures in his more popular traditional colour-scheme, however, this has just left the door open for talented customisers to work their magic.
Other than the funky-coloured Thundercracker released in Europe (who shared a subline with Circuit, coincedentally), this figure was not repainted to make any of the other traditional Seeker Jets. A missed opportunity that surely would not go unutilised these days?
We’ll be taking a look at AM Thundercracker alongside Circuit in just a few days, so come back to the site.
Overall, they are fun figures from a less cynical more playful time, and while I like a lot of other TF fans may have intitially written off Action Masters, it has become one of my favourite sublines in the long and varied history of the Transformers brand.