Continuing our look at the Action Masters sub-line, we come to the European Exclusive Exo-Suit range in 1991, the year after the line had halted Stateside.



Featuring repaints of previous releases (Wheeljack and Sprocket from earlier in the week), and a new vehicle that transformed into a power suit with a motorised gimmick, the action was very much limited, but none the less, these are fun toys from a more innocent time.





Rumbler is a straight repaint of Sprocket, but lacking individual hand weapons, or an animal sidekick like previous releases to set him apart.  He has an excellent head sculpt and an amazing colour palette which is very much of the time, but on his own, the figure isn’t much to write home about.




To help balance the odds in battle, Rumbler comes with a 4WD All-Terrain vehicle.  It comes with two grabby claw things and two (only one pictured) cool looking duel-mace looking accessory that plugs into his wheels, in a very Mad Max style (okay, maybe more Grease than Mad Max).  Unfortunately, while the rest of the 4WD vehicle is very solid, the mace weapons are molded from a rubber like substance and – after 25 years – they are starting to melt and wither.  One of my mace weapons is doing well, and it only droops embarrassingly and weeps, leaving a sticky residue in it’s wake (I am not trying to be crude I promise), the other one has fallen apart.

The big selling point for this vehicle is it is motorised, pop enough batteries in to power a modern device for a year and you can just about get this amazing piece of 90s kitch moving forwards OR backwards.  A hell of a selling point for a toyline that used to be about innovative transformations.  But wait, it does transform!



If by transform you mean it stands up.  Yeah, the seat folds forward to become a shin-guard, and the control-bars tilt upward to enable the now upright Rumbler to hold them.  Meanwhile, the grabby claw things unfold outward to give them a greater reach.




Well I guess the colour palette is kind of cool, all bright and vibrant.  In this mode, his Exo-Suit is supposed to be impervious to all firepower, which sounds great on paper, but unfortunately it offers very little cover for Rumbler, and while the Exo-suit might be impervious to firepower, I’m sure his head, arms and torso are not.

Rumbler has had zero love in the 25 years since his debut, other than a Transformers Collectors Club appearance (everyone has appeared in the club magazine at this point) and a blink and miss it IDW cameo.  Not a single homage, repaint or 3P offering have even been discussed I’d wager.  Can’t think of why.





Slicer is a bit more well known in the fandom, thanks to him borrowing his base mold from the (more popular than Sprocket) Wheeljack toy, as such, there have been a plethora of Wheeljack molds released in the years since, making a Slicer repaint inevitable.



While the figure on it’s own is again lacking even a hand-gun, seeing the familiar visage of Wheeljack is a different colour-scheme is always going to be interesting to the fandom, especially when he’s re-imagined as an Evil Decepticon.  In fact, the colour scheme has duel purpose, working as European exclusive and tertiary character Slicer and as Shattered Glass Wheeljack.  Surely there has to be an official Slicer repaint of a Wheeljack mold somewhere down the line?




Yup.  Released as Decepticon Slice as an attendee giveaway figure for Botcon 2010, Slice is a repaint of Energon Downshift (who was an obvious Wheeljack homage).  Although many fans may have preferred later Wheeljack figures, I quite like the fact Slice gives me a chance to own an interesting Energon mold, one that I’d long since sold the original version of.  Fun publishing maintains that the Autobot logo on the chest in purple is for those who want to use him in Shattered Glass, but really it’s because it’s a molded logo and there was no way of removing that from the mold without incurring big costs.  Given how savvy Hasbro have become with prepaints and repaints, I can’t see them ever molding a faction logo onto a mold again.



Slicer comes with a 4WD Assualt Vehicle (obviously completely different from Rumbler’s 4WD Off-Road All Terrain Vehicle).  It’s a straight repaint in moodier Decepticon colours that complement Slicer very well, as long as slight retooling on the weapon front.  The grabby claw things become straight up guns, and the maces on the wheels are replaced with wheel Slicers (I get it!) pretty much the exact weapon used in Grease actually, with the added benefit is they don’t melt like the weapons with Rumbler.



In standing up mode, it’s the same affair as with Rumbler, guns fold forward, but with a slight variation the wheel slicers open up to become slicey weapons if only someone would just come within inches of his exo-suit.  I’m not sure how effective they would be, as they look like four goth Christmas trees stuck on car wheels.



Ah well, there are worse playsets for toys.  Although I’m struggling to think of any right now.




In car mode, TFCC Decepticon Slice looks pretty much like you’d expect him to; a blue repaint of a Wheeljack inspired mold.  It’s worth mentioning this deco was the inspiration for Transformers Prime Dark Energon Prime Wheeljack.  It’s cool that TFCC did this homage, but I really think we need an official release of Masterpiece Slicer to boost the MP Decepticon ranks.

If you’re wondering why mine includes G2 logos on the doors, well partly because I’d just spent money with Repro Labels and needed to boost my CHUG2 collection, but to me it makes as much sense as using him as SG Wheeljack, and there’s a part of me that feels the sensibilities behind G2 really started in the 1991 Euro AM line.  I mean, look at the colours of Rumbler and Slicer!  Given that the G2 logos were used before G2 in the Euro line, and after G2 on early Beast Wars toys, I think G2 is almost as much a state-of-mind as a period of time or branding.



Despite my sarcasm, I do really like these toys.  Although, I concede, I may have a sickness which makes me like anything G1 / G2.  In 1991 the line was failing, and the European wing of Hasbro was just throwing ideas at the wall to see what would stick.  It’s crazy and silly, and the sort of thing a committee of toy executives would probably thing kids would want; a motorised vehicle that sits a non-transforming Transformer.


Next week we’re taking a break from the Action Master fun to showcase some other weird and wonderful toys from the annals of toy history, but the Action will return and we’ll finish up this iconic series very soon.


Don’t forget to check out the Kapow Toys store as they are having a super sale right now.  The Rumble is, prices have been Sliced (ho-ho!)

Continuing our look at the Action Master line, today we’re looking at the Autobot Vehicles.  Some of the larger figures from the range, much bigger than the Action Blasters or Exo Suits, but smaller than the (for want of a better term) Leader Class toys of Gutcruncher, Megatron and Optimus Prime.



Once again, some excellent character art for this guy, a lot of the times it doesn’t feature that prominently on the very busy 90s packaging, so it’s good to see it clean.  Fair play to Botch the Crab who does an excellent job archiving character box art on his site.



Sprocket looks great as a robot with some excellent choices of colouration, the white, yellow and orange colourations really offset his darker torso.  Straight away, we’re drawn to that oversized weapon, the fact that it’s gold plastic with a small 3-mil hand-peg makes us all want to handle with care.  His chest looks like he used to transform into a Cybertronian jet of some kind, with the stylings differing from many of the Action Masters usual vestigial Earth-modes.

Sprocket is unique to Action Masters, with no other updates or homages released third party or otherwise.  Why no love?  Jackpot, Kick-Off, Axer, Circuit, Slicer and many more AMs have been homaged, but this guy gets nothing outside of appearances in TFCC fiction and cameos in More Than Meets the Eye (which is something I guess?).  His name hasn’t even been re-appropriated for a vastly different TF character or product. For shame.


As you can see on the artwork, the gold weapon doubles as missiles for the alt. mode, but these are solid pieces for display only with no working projectile ability.  Also, the car doesn’t fire huge lasers from it’s engine block and it cannot drive on it’s own.  Well done to Sprocket for maintaining a sensible “ten-to-two” hands on the wheel approach to driving amidst the chaos and gunfire.



On it’s own, the vehicle isn’t that satisfying.  A green off-road vehicle with a fairly ugly design, I can’t see it appealing to many kids even in 1990 as it looks like a convertible Land Rover.  However, it’s transformation into an Attack Cruiser is quite involved, featuring only one breath-stopping forcing of a GPS liable block of plastic on the front end.


This is pretty cool in my book; wings, helicopter blades, weapons, DeLorean / BTTF style folding wheels.  I never had this as a kid, but seem to remember a friend did, and it was great fun to convert and fiddle around with.  The extra driving seat adds an extra dimension and is a real highlight of the Action Master line, as these figures really do interact with each other and share a play pattern.



Finally!  A Wheeljack with a proper face, with eyes and everything!  Even as a non-transforming fairly basic figure that was often ignored at the time, it still has more paint apps than the Combiner Wars version.


As with Sprocket, the missiles from the Turbo Racer detach to become hand weapons.  There’s not much else to say about the figure, it has standard knee joints, ball-jointed hips held by elastic, lateral movement in each arm and ahead swivel, like the rest of the product line.



Artwork looks great, and it makes me wish I’d popped out Bumblebee and Jackpot to recreate this scene above.

It’s a fun, racey looking vehicle with obvious Testarossa overtones, although one negative aspect of molding a big red plastic race car is it sort of looks like it transforms into this:


Yup, Wheeljack’s car looks like it transforms into a bed.  Ah well, actually it transforms into the marginally more cool:


It’s supposed to be a Jet Fighter, but the way the doors fold up to become wings get’s drowned out when you fold the front end of the cars around to give it more of a nosecone shape.  Still, it’s a flying car, and in 1990, you would not have been able to convince me that this was not cool.  The stickers on this guy are also a bit phoned in, with generic “mech” detailing visible in the alt. mode.  A shame, as the trim detailing and hood emblem in yellow really set off the car mode quite well.


These are fun toys.  Just as Micro Masters was a reaction to Micro Machines, I’d argue this was probably a move towards competing with the Teenage Mutant Ninja / Hero Turtles toyline, which had seen great success with it’s action figure and vehicle / playset product line the years preceding these releases.

They are a fun part of the legacy of the line, and whilst they were considered a miss-step at the time, it seems opinions towards the line has softened in recent years, and I would encourage all TF fans to give them a look.

As always, thanks to Kapow for giving the blog a home!  Although we aren’t spoiled for choice for Sprockets, there are plenty of Wheeljacks on the market, check out what Kapow has right here!

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.

AM Starscream





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.


The first year of Generation Two in 1992 saw many repaints of the G1 range, some of these featured minor changes (Inferno), a few new paint detailing (Jazz), some complete mold redecos (Sideswipe) and some of these included running changes through the line (Dinobots seeing three separate colour-scheme releases, with a fourth for Grimlock planned and unreleased).

What was interesting to see was that the original Seeker jets saw less repaints in G2 than during G1, with only two of the original six figures seeing a release.  We know the Thrust and Dirge wing molds were available (and not “lost” like Sunstreaker or Wheeljack) because just a decade later they saw a release first through e-Hobby and later through Toys R Us as Hasbro Commemorative Editions, but for reasons unknown, two jets is all we got.  So lets see them.

G2 Starscream



The leader of the Seekers is back, even if he has less of an Air Squadron to command then in previous years.

At first glance, his redeco may look tonally similar to his original; A grey body becoming white with reddish parts for the upper torso, with grey highlights replacing the original blue.  In hand, the red is very noticeably a salmon colour (which became a more orangey shade with the TFCC release) and the blue to grey colour swap does make him noticably different, especially on his wings which – having not been blue on the original release – would have been on a different mold sprue to his blue parts, so his colour change is more thought out than a mere mold palette swap.  The slight purple of his cockpit and missiles were a nice change carried over in the TFCC version, which does a remarkably good job of copying the original, especially on homaging some of the original sticker apps.



One of the major changes from G1 to G2 was the addition of a rudimentary sound-chip and new missile launchers.  Like G2 Optimus Prime, Starscream features an add-on “light and sound” box that clips onto the figure, meaning Starscream can now make the “pew-pew” noises so you’re kids don’t have to.  Unfortunately, the technology of the time meant that the noises were of the same quality as you’d find on a key-fob at a cheap market stall; limited to a poor quality gun noise, and a take-off engine thrust noise that never seems to end.  Still, at least they didn’t try and add a voice file like on Megatron and Prime!

The new missile launcher is an interesting choice and was also carried over for G2 Superion / Silverbolt, we presume the changes were not aesthetic but necessary thanks to new toy laws denoting the size of missiles, to avoid choking mishaps with small projectiles.  What I find oddest about these missiles and launcher is that they were not carried over for the TRU reissues which had all new missiles designed to comply with the same laws (not so with the Takara / eHobby reissues), and even as recently as the Platinum Seeker sets we saw a new change to Thrust’s Missile Launcher Holder, which now is a solid piece with no firing mechanism at all.  Surely it would have been able to port the G2 missile and launcher over for these subsequent releases?



The alt. modes are pretty much what you expect, with G2 Starscream featuring the same factory sticker sets as the G1 figure, hence the old school faction logos, curiously this was carried over with the redesigned factory applied wing and tailfin stickers, which also featured the G2 logos.  Given the G2 logos were used before (and after) G2, they had them in hand at the design stage, so it’s very curious that these were not used.

Thankfully, the TFCC release features accurate G2 faction logo stickering as part of it’s tampographing, and I would be remiss if I didn”t mention that it’s probably the finest designed and applied tampographing of any of the recent figures released, and a highlight of the TFCC range.



Style-guide transformation artwork.


Something else worth mentioning, this is the fourth mainline release of Starscream from a company that was starting to realise the value of it’s own character IPs.  Starscream was released in 1984, and both as a Pretender Classic and an Action Master before his G2 release, only a small set of characters share that honour including Jazz and Grimlock, but unlike the big-players Prime and Megatron, Starscream was not replaced for the 1986 line (despite his graphic on screen death) making him one of the most enduring characters at this point in the line’s history – only Bumbleebee with his five releases by this point, beats him (although an argument could be made for Grimlocks three G2 colour-schemes pushing him into the lead).

G2 Ramjet



Now that is a colour overhaul!!!  Having lost his white torso to G2 Starscream, G2 Ramjet went in a completely different direction.  Now bright purple, with turquoise detailing.  Because G2.

Most of the things I mentioned for Starscream apply here for G2 Ramjet; new missile launchers, crappy clip-on sound-box which is only good at annoying pets, parents (and later spouses – it still works after all these years and the same batteries too!).  The way Ramjets wings display in robot mode give me the perfect opportunity to point out another G2 addition, the tampo’d faction identifier on the underside of his left wing identifying Ramjet as a Deception.  Something similar was carried over for the Transmetal era of Beast Wars, with name idents tampo’d on the curiously faction-less beasties.





The TFCC CHUG version did an excellent job homaging the original, once again replacing the old G1 stickers with G2 tampos, and although some of the detailing was lost (air intakes for instance) they did an excellent job all-round.  The biggest difference between the two classics molds used were off course the conehead, a change made for all the coneheads in the CHUG line to differentiate them from Starscream and co., and a great improvement on the G1 style of Coneheading, which always looks naff.



More rarely seen style-guide artwork

CHUG2 Ramjet actually pre-dates CHUG2 Starscream by about five years and was so popular he sold out in 2 days, it’s great that they manage to “finish” the set before the TFCC line died, but I sort of wish they’d rounded it out with the other four as well.  Tricky, considering Hasbro never revealed any scheduled repaints for the other characters, but in the years since G2 two other repaints of Ramjet have leaked, one known amoung the fandom as Sandstorm (click here for excellent Maz analysis of this unique hand-painted mold), and the other in a sky-blue deco you can read about here.

However, for those wanting to boost their G2 seeker ranks, Action Master Thundercracker’s colour-scheme is one of the most G2 looking things around and makes a great stand-in, and I feel Shattered Glass Dirge (below) could have also made an excellent G2 stand-in had they ever released it (although the mold is Ramjets, you can tell by the wings), and at a push Nacelle could almost be used for a G2 Thrust, although he is no longer a conehead.  But that’s it, no real inspiration for Skywarp.



Despite the enduring popularity of obscure G2 and the necessity for repaints, there have been no G2 MP style seekers.  Well, no official ones.  The iGear version of G2 Ramjet was released, but in very limited numbers.  Originally scheduled to be a Comic Ink store exclusive in the USA, an alleged Cease and Desist order apparently shut that down.  It’s a very nice piece if you can find it, and there are rumoured to only be about 20 ever made.


Overall, I’m a big fan of G2 toys, so all four of these official pieces call to me in a way I don’t fully understand, but even I have to draw the line somewhere, so G2 MPs are not for me.  However, there are plenty of other MP seekers available through Kapow Toys either in stock or on pre-order.  As well as that, the Kapow SALE is currently underway.  Go to.

Ah, Classics.  How I miss thee.

While some might argue that Combiner Wars and Titans Return are a new Golden Age for mainline Transformers, my heart will forever be tied up in the early days of CHUG, when the acronym almost made sense.  We’re firmly in the days of CHUG+ ( CHUGURTSFOCLCWUWTR just doesn’t roll off the tongue) now, and it’s up to the individual collector what goes where in their personal collection, whether they keep the Titans Return collection with their line-wide Headmaster play pattern as a separate toyline or mix it all in together.

It’s taken us a while to move away from the 1984-1986 characters, but even with the mining of the 1987-1989 mainline, there are still some characters too obscure for mainline release.  Thanks to the likes of Hero X / Million Publishing, and the late Transformers Collectors Club, those bases are covered.  In the last few years we’ve had figures such as Dogfight, Carzap, Go-Shooter, Shouki, Windsweeper and even a half-decent official Impactor.  That’s pretty obscure!




Today we’re looking at two of my favourites from the TFCC subscription service; Krok and Treadbolt, homages to two Decepticons from the Action Master era.




But first, what is an Action Master?  On one hand it’s a toy company looking at the success of 3 & 3/4 inch action figures and trying to compete, on the other it’s a nonsensical way of killing the Unique Selling Point of the TF range; transforming toys.  At the time several hardcore TF fans were detractors of this failed marketing gimmick, a feeling which for many continues to this day.  However I feel the line is not without merit and introduced some interesting characters and story-line potential, with the more-powerful Nucleon powered bodies coming at the expense of the characters transformation becoming a focus of the comic series.


Treadshot was also released in 1990 during the first wave of Action Master releases, like all  most AMs he doesn’t transform, however his partner Catgut does.  Sort of.  One of the best things about the Action Master range was the introduction of new characters rather than just sticking to the core Season One crew, and the detailing and imagination used to create these new characters is fertile ground indeed, ground which is only recently being used.  Rather than just tooling generic non-transforming robots, these new characters are imagined as if they also had alt. modes which they gave up for more powerful Nucleon powered bodies.

Catgut transforms from robotic cat to a Pulse Demagnetizer rifle, although whether there is any advantage to this over Treadshot just holding his own gun rather than plugging it into the repositioned spine of a robot cat is anyone’s guess.  Although the gun-mode makes little sense, Action Master fans like myself were pleased when Catgut was included with the modern update.




As part of the Transformers Collectors Club Subscription Service 2.0, Treadshot was re-imagined as a fully transforming deluxe figure.  Taking inspiration from the gun chest on Treadshot (thought by some to be inspired by the non-Takara .357 Magnum Robo which was later released in Gig’s Trasformer line as Highway Patrol Robo), Generations Warpath was chosen as the base figure for this update.

The addition of an Arms Micron figure as Catgut really helped the more expensive price-tag for these figures feel slightly more justified, as this mix of themes is unlikely to happen in traditional Hasbro Deluxes (although stranger things have happened).


The character has had more love and attention of late – dying in Last Stand of the Wreckers seems to do that for a character’s popularity – and he also showed up in Furman’s G1 continuation; Regeneration One.

It’s a solid update to a less popular character, and absolutely the type of thing the Collectors Club figures were perfect for.  I’m sure some people weren’t happy with the change in alt. mode from gun to tank, but that’s just the times we live in, and I’d rather he have this base mold than a Nerf-gun alt. mode like Classics Megatron.



If I had to be fussy, I’d say the head needed more work.  This needed to be a re-sculpt rather than a straight repaint, what with the visor being a really defining part of the character.  I suppose loose Treadshots in poor condition are easy enough to find for a donor head-swap operation, for those that really need a more accurate head-sculpt.  But I can live with this.





The non-transforming Krok was first released in 1990, along with his partner-in-crime, the excellently named Gatoraider.




As with Treadshot, Gatoraider turns from alligator to weapon, becoming an Elector-Pulsator gun – for a society at war over energy, they sure were good at wasting it on energy weapons back in G1!




As part of the TFCC Subscription Service 3.0, Krok was the final release, and my favourite of the whole set.  His G1 figure only had vague hints of previous alt. mode, but it looked vaguely space-shippy.  I have to take my hat-off to the folks at TFCC for getting the choice of mode totally right for the updated Krok, as they went with the Generations Stealth Bomber Megatron!  Perfect



For me, this game me the opportunity to not only add an obscure AM figure to my updated Classics collection, but it gave me the chance to add a new mold as well, as I HATED this mold the first time round and could not give it space in the collection.  It just shows the importance of character choice with a mold, as this figure works great as Krok, whereas before I found it too small and flimsy to make a convincing Megatron (especially Don Fig’s Stealth Bomber Megatron who was a BEAST!).




Not only is the figure a great choice for robot and alt. mode, it also meant that it’s weapons work perfectly giving Gatoraider an updated “beast+gun=super gun” mode like the original AM figure.




And the headsculpt.  Did I mention the headsculpt?  Perfect.  So much of the character in the first line of AM releases was in the head-sculpt, and this figure NAILS it!  Great work TFCC.




Ultimately, these are exactly the types of homage that a Subscription Service should aim for.  Obscure, but with G1 ties, that not everyone NEEDS to complete a collection, but that a certain hardcore fan base will totally WANT.


Thanks TFCC, long may it continue.  Oh, wait.  Oh.  (too soon?)


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Without a doubt, the Glacialord set from Fans Project, part of the Retro-Future subset, is one of my favourite 3rd Party releases of all time.

First teased way back in 2009, the Glacialbots are a heavy love-letter to both G1, and toy collecting in general.




Before we even get to the toys themselves, lets have some appreciation for the boxes; this set of toys not only homages the perils of collecting old toys, but it does so with a wicked sense of humour.  The back of the packaging is adorned with fake stills from a TV show of Glacialord that never happened, as well as a very G1 like art.  Like Marvel’s Sentry comic, these toys are best appreciated when you play along with the joke, that these are lost toys from the 1980’s that have recently been found, and there is a whole universe of story and character out there waiting to be discovered.



All the boxes come pre-worn, with creases, tears, stress-marks and fading all PRINTED onto the box.  The tear on Razorspike’s packaging has been seen a million times on genuine retro toys, and the fading on  Tusker’s packaging makes it look and feel exactly like it’s sat in a window unsold for decades.  Thankfully, this sort of reproduction fading means the toy inside is unharmed, unlike a lot of real sun-faded packaging.



But we’re not done yet!  Anyone who collects Brave knows the peril of trying to find a complete set of something like Silverion, before having to settle for the Korean Sonoking for the fourth member.  This is replicated perfectly with Megazero, so much so that FPCore had a little fun with it, and announced the destruction of the entire shipment of Megazero toys using Google Translate to ensure an accurate Chinglish experience such as; “We regret to inform you that your part of the goods does not reach…”, before putting out a shipment update explaining that replacements had been sourced from Korea after a shipment find: “It was in an old abandoned distribution center just a few hours outside of Busan, that they discovered there were still some of these versions stored away. Although featured in different packaging, this version of Megazero is exactly the same as it’s North American counterpart and come complete with sticker sheets, instructions and accessories…”


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Amazingly good fun!

And the attention to detail continues when you open the packaging, with the items ship with polystyrene innards, and while we wouldn’t want to see a return to this packaging as standard due to ethical / sustainability concerns, it does nicely homage that 80s toy collecting experience.  Also, it’s worth noting that the included sticker sheets are all half applied, replicating nicely that second hand toy experience.

On to the toys!!!



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We start with this guy, purely because he was my first experience of the Retro-Future flavour.  Sure, this set had been rumoured for a few years, but out of the blue back in early 2013, Tailclub arrived at my designer friend’s house as FP were looking for feedback on the set.  Immediately, the designer and I were sold on the concept and the execution and gave our positive feedback to FP, so much so that I continually pitched the idea of a sticker set to the poor folks at FP until they acquiesced, and finally this year the sticker book became a reality, and I was lucky enough to write it, including all their official profiles.

Before the team was devolved, Tailclub was a very famous playboy philanthropist, dedicating just enough time to seemingly altruistic exploits to justify his outlandish behaviour on the nightclub scene. Indeed, this is how he got his name.
However, his name still fits, as – arguably – he suffered the most in his devolution, with his behaviour becoming almost feral at times and he often uses his tailclub to speak for him, rarely using words when a swing of the club or a bash on a table will do. This eccentricity has almost led to him becoming ostracised from his faction, but his Glacial-bot team-mates stand by him.

Tailclub tranforms into a Doedicurus, with his alt. mode head forming part of his melee weapon, and his weapon forming part of Glacialords combined Mega-weapon.  He becomes the left-leg of Glacialord as standard.


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Fangro and Tailclub were the first two figures to see production, with a limited and un-publicised stealth-release and immediate sell-out at Botcon 2013.

He’s constantly trying to tell everyone how much of a bad-ass he is. He likes to tell people his motto is “You won’t like me when I’m Fangry”. Ask him about any major battle over the last million years, and he can tell you exactly what it was like and how his participation changed the battle.
This is all a cover, to try and hide the fact that he is the biggest coward on either side of the war. Often seen hiding under fallen enemies during battles, pretending to be dead or injured. It’s not that he is a bad ‘bot, but he has a crossed-wire in his flight or fight circuit, which conveniently shuts-off when combined.

Fangro becomes a Sabre-toothed tiger, with his alt. mode head and tail combining to make a hand-gun for his robot mode, as well as forming the front-end of the Mega-weapon.  He becomes the left arm of Glacialord.


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Tusker, the central core and torso for the set, was next to be released.  In a bizarre twist on the standard, he saw release in Canada and the UK first, in very limited quantities at TFCon and Auto Assembly 2013.  In a twist on the usual Scramble City standard, Tusker is NOT the leader of the team;

Forming the central section of Glacialord, Tusker makes up the muscle for the team. He has always taken on the role of protector, even when he was a young ‘Bot he would put himself in harms way to protect those smaller or weaker than him.
Despite this bravery and his obvious strength, Tusker is often teased for his slow speech patterns, and other bots often make the mistake of thinking Tusker is unintelligent. Because of this, Tusker is quite shy and reserved, and chooses to remain quiet most of the time.
You can pick on him, tease him and even threaten him, and he will always walk away (albeit slowly) – but if he sees someone else in trouble or being picked on, he becomes a different beast altogether. It’s this fiery side which comes out when the team is combined and gives Glacialord such ferocity.

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Tusker has two robot mode heads, you can either use the small Soleron head as with the rest of the team, or…

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…use the second, and more proportionate head, even if it is a little 2-dimensional and flat.

Tusker transforms into a mammoth, and his trunk becomes his weapon, and the central part of the combined mode Mega-Weapon.



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Razorspike was released at the same time as Megazero.

Razorspike is the consummate average robot; he’s never exceeded at anything in his entire life, but there is little he cannot turn his hand to at least competently. His tech-spec read-outs are a straight 5 across the board, his grades on any test are a straight “C” average, he would be the biggest also ran in the history of the war if it wasn’t for one fact: he is part of the mighty Glacialord.
You’ve never met another ‘Bot who is as proud of his gestalt mode as this guy is! If you ask Razorspike if he prefers his robot mode or his alt. Mode, he will carefully and concisely weigh all the evidence, before answering “leg mode” without a hint of irony.

Razorspike transforms into a Wooly Rhino, and while his head / weapon doesn’t contribute to Glacialord’s Mega-weapon, it does become a blaster and spiked weapon for his rhino mode. As mentioned above, he becomes the right leg as standard.



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Megazero is the weakest member of the team on paper, but is actually the secret leader of the Glacialbots.

Although he is one of the weakest members of the team, with the most vulnerable alt. Mode, Megazero is incredibly fast in both modes which has always kept him out of danger. The only thing faster than his (animal mode) feet, is his brilliant, tactical brain. Even devolved into his current form, Megazero uses his advanced processor speeds to make the best of all situations.

Megazero is the secret leader of the Glacialbots.  For any outsiders viewing the group Tusker would appear to be the leader, but secretly Megazero is in charge and passing his orders on to Tusker, who sees this as part of his role as a protector; drawing attention away from Megazero in the event of assassins or mercenaries.

Megazero transforms into a robotic Elk, and his head detaches for his antlers to become a sword weapon for him to weld in robot mode.  Most commonly becomes the right arm of Glacialord.


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Glacialord is the combined mode of the Glacialbots!

Megazero’s brain, Tailclub’s brutality, Tusker’s brawn, Razorspike’s positivity and even Fangro’s inner desire to be a brave hero; all of these work together to make Glacialord a true combiner success, delivering a bot who is truly more than the sum of his parts. Individually, every team member has major character flaws and weaknesses, but these are all overcome when they work as a team with excellent cognitive synergy.

Utilising the Scramble City method of combination, any limb can become any other limb.  I tend to break from the preferred method of combination and swap Tailclub and Fangro, as the engineering on Tailclub’s legs mean they can double up as an elbow joint for combined mode.


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The figures all fit perfectly into that G1 Scramble City aesthetic and scale, but also encompass a Breast-Master feature that includes a Soleron companion, who is actually the character operating the robot transtector.  The Solerons can ride on top of the alt. modes Dinoking style, or can stay inside their transtector suits in animal or combined mode.

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Everything stores away with the individual robots utilising all the pieces in every mode with absolutely zero left over kiddle.  The foot plates / chestplate doubling up as shields for the individal bots.  This is a great feature for those of us who like to transform out Scramble City combiners without digging through part boxes or risk losing bits if you don’t put them away immediately!  The one negative being that the different shields for the different characters give Glacialord different feet, and that is one part of the G1 combiners that I think looks better neater than this set, but that’s such a minor quibble for a beautiful set I feel bad for even mentioning it.  For a while I did have two sets, and I used to have matching feet for the combined mode, but over the years I’ve felt bad straying from the designer’s original intention and have conformed.


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On the same lines as the above, the gestalt hands neatly store inside Tusker’s animal feet.  As well as this, the combined mode head is a permanent part of Tusker, similar to how Defensor’s head is a part of Hot-Spot.

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The same below for the combined Mega-Weapon.  It doesn’t just give him a bigger gun for combined mode, it also uses left-over pieces from the alt. modes.  These might seem a minor point to some people, but for me, it just shows extra care and attention to detail, and shows how much thought was put into the planning and design of these amazing toys.


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Transformation on these is as you’d expect for G1 homages, easy, quick and intuitive.  They’re an absolute joy to handle in all modes.


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It might be quite apparent by now how much I adore this set.  It does seem that these are not for everyone, and I think that’s a real shame.  These should have been the toys that bridged the gap between G1 collectors / Transformers puritans and the 3P companies, providing a set of toys which are completely new characters and concepts but undeniably G1 throughout without even a hint of Ip theft.  These could have healed the rift between those two disparate collector mentalities.


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Instead, they seem to have been too G1 for a lot of modern 3P collectors who often put design intricacy and poseability top of their list, but too new and different for a lot of G1 collectors who are happy with the finite nature of their G1 collecting goals.


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Thankfully, these did find a place in the hearts of a lot of collectors like myself, who love the concept, execution, and the tongue in cheek nature of their publicity and packaging.

I just wish there were more of them.


One theory surrounding the Glacialbots that seems to persist, is that he might in some way be a version of Computron.  This may have been compounded by this image circulating, an image perhaps used only to show the interchangeable G1 style limbs:


While there are similarities between colour schemes, and parallels such as the nosecone legs and the antlers of Megazero creating a silhouette similar to Strafe’s weapons, there has never been any official word on this from FP or FPCore, and their continuity is completely separate from any TF lore, so whether Computron / Quantron or any other version of the character exists in the FPCore storyline is unknown.
Although there are references to the characters being devolved, so who knows?

As always, thanks for reading.