Sunday 26 February 2012

Updates to the collection

With the recent arrivals of the Disney Transformers as well as completing the TFPrime First Edition series (which most collectors will see as the more important element here), I wanted to photograph their shelves and update the collection page.
Which reminds me... I need to set up new shelf space for the Regular TFPrime series now that I have some of them.

So the First Edition shelf, now that it is complete (it doesn't look like we are getting the Zombie deco Cliffjumper).

And the Disney Label shelf, which has the JP EZ Chronicle waves at the front (both lines are currently complete).

So there's 5 different Mickey toys, 3 different Donald toys and 2 different Buzz Lightyear toys.

Saturday 25 February 2012

Final stuff for February

I'm not expecting to buy anything locally in the next five days, and don't have anything in transit, so this should be the last lot of February toys for me.

Another lot from BigBadToyStore. I ordered the first wave of Deluxe and Voyager TFPrime toys as soon as they announced their arrival, as they were less than half the price of what they are here... making it cheaper to import WITH shipping.
How bad is that.... from the toy companies not passing on the savings they are making from the exchange rate improving over the last 10 years.

So the first wave of Deluxe TFPrime toys are Soundwave (drone jet), Cliffjumper V2 (red car), Wheeljack (white car), Bumblebee V2 (yellow car).
The Voyagers are Megatron and Optimus Prime V2.

To the right of those are the third wave of the new small size Star Wars Crossovers, which are all just redecos with new heads.
And to the right of that is Ehobby Black Masterpiece Rodimus Prime, which was released last month in Japan. It's a very weird, bright-blue coloured, figure, that reminds me of Gen1 Darkwing. It's even rebranded as a Decepticon.  The tfwiki has it described as a character that was cloned from Rodimus Prime's insecurities... which doesn't make much sense.
I probably won't be transforming it though, as the original was a bit fragile, and I don't want to risk breaking something that I don't need to convert.

At the back is the latest issue of the Collector Club Magazine... and to say it is disappointing is an understatement. No toy info, pointless interviews, and a comic story that just sets the scene of the real story for the year.
More comments later, after I transform these (and the ones from the last lot).

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Tansformers 3 DotM Special Features (Bluray)

My Ultimate Bluray box set arrived from (US) the other day, and I'm keen to go through EVERYTHING... from Movies, commentaries, and the extra Special Features.

Since I've watched a lot of the extra features for the first two, the first disc I popped into my PS3 was the Special Features disc for TF3.

Wow, this was more insightful than I had expected. Enlightening me about certain characters and themes/events.  I might have to go back over the Extra Features of the first two movies and review them as well.

They constantly talk down TF2, and blame the writer's strike for it... but the plot wasn't the only problem, or even the main problem.  It was still a good movie that did its job, and was still good enough for me to want to watch several times. But it's almost like they are not wanting to take responsibility for the end result, or even be proud of what they did achieve from it.

Dino was initially based on Gen1 Mirage, with the invisibility power, but as those "Mirage" features were dropped, the character was focused on being a "Ferrari" character... named Enzo, with an Italian accent (and then later named Dino, during or after filming).  Hasbro calling their two Dino toys as Mirage is totally their idea, as the red robot character they are based on, is nothing like what it was when it was still being called Mirage.

Que was also initially being based on a Gen1 character - Wheeljack (crossed with the James Bond Q character), but as it's early proposed character sheets were too "Pixar" and "cartoony" for Bay, Spielberg suggested an Einstein look. (it's just a shame that they ended up naming it after someone else's character, instead of giving it a unique name if they didn't want an existing Transformers name)

The Wreckers were intended to resemble the NASCAR enthusiasts, as a blending of robot and human/organic appearance. An early animation had one in yellow - perhaps changed to green to not be too similar to Bumblebee.

Sentinel Prime's early animation models were all named "Ultra Magnus", but seems like it was just a place-holder name, as the character was set out as being a father figure to Optimus, and designed to resemble a Japanese anime martial artist.

The three Dreads are pretty much entirely Bay's idea, as a pack of wild animal hunters, in vehicle modes. (a pity we didn't get decent toys of these either - so much of TF3 was wasted in the toy department)

Shockwave was based on the Gen1 character, as a powerful foe for Optimus (which didn't end up happening in the Movie). The Driller was a confusing mix of ideas during its creation process, be it a beast or mere chariot for Shockwave. It seems that they just ended up focusing on creating a visual marvel, but decided against trying to explain what it is.

Optimus' Trailer - described as "a thing of beauty".  After the temporary TF2 Jetwing upgrade, a more permanent version was created for Optimus, and the trailer becoming an Armoury killed 2 birds with the one stone - it allowed his new weapons to be with him all the time, and deals with the age-old question of where the trailer goes when (Gen1) Optimus transforms.

Bumblebee & Sideswipe cars were both sent back to GM to be modified to give them (slightly) "new looks". (both should have been given new forms, along with other carry-over cast, as an incentive to buy TF3 toys of each that looked the same as their TF2 toys)

Megan Fox - this was an interesting bit. Michael Bay tried to explain why she wasn't in the third movie, which was different to the reasons floating around news sites (perhaps he didn't want to sound vindictive over the things she said about him in the past, but he still came off that way when talking about her "celebrity" personality).  He said that when he met up with her 8 months after TF2, for TF3, she had undergone so much cosmetic/vanity changes, that she was too "Hollywood" for her character. (not a surprise though, as she was very "celebrity" oriented during the first movie and its promotions/premieres - when I saw her in 2007 at the Sydney Premiere, she was the one with the ego and vanity... going so far as correcting people who didn't pronounce her name as "May-gan")
They mention that the decision to drop her was made a week into filming, so the excuse that TF2 was bad because of the writers' strike isn't too plausible if they had to re-write TF3 a week into filming to replace one of the two main characters.

Rosie - Does very well on the screen tests, and impressed the casting people & director with her humble-ness (I guess they didn't want to risk another demanding leading actress). For someone who hasn't had any acting experience, she does have a natural talent from the neck up... she just needs to be more expressive with her body movements.

They talk about using the 3D camera, being a huge cumbersome piece of equipment that slowed down filming, but the results (which could be viewed as they were filming, with 3D glasses), was making it worth the hassle. Bay was initially frustrated, but was amazed at the results as they were filming.

The huge tilting office building set they built was amazing.  A third of the size of a football field, it was a set built on hydraulics, that could be "hinged" to up to 45 degrees.  They found that about 25 degrees is as far as it can tilt before it was impossible to stay on your feet... so obviously Bay wanted to push it as far as possible, by going with 22 degrees. The cast and crew all said it was the most difficult period of filming, but also the most fun... like an amusement park ride.
The set was also used for the exterior scene of when they were sliding down the glass exterior of the building... A 110 foot length of slippery slide, lubricated with powder and waxed glass.

Filming in the American capital was the most challenging filming ever for Bay, due to all the permits required, because of how close they were to the White House and Capital Building. And they only had one chance at most of the shots.
He also wanted to film the Lincoln Memorial (the building with the big Lincoln sitting in a chair), but kept getting "no" for every idea he submitted. Since they couldn't close off the memorial from the public to film the interior, Bay had Josh Duhamel cause a distraction outside for the public to meet him and get autographs, leaving the interior empty for Bay to get as much filmed for later computer animation.
They couldn't even have a camera tripod inside the memorial in case it scratched the floor I guess, so they improvised by having each tripod leg resting inside a shoe, just to get permission to have a camera tripod in there.

The white car that Simmons uses is apparently worth 1.6 million dollars, and there is said to only be 1 or 4 in existence. Since Bay is such a car enthusiast, it was obviously something he wanted included in the movie (maybe it's his), but was very strict with what could go near it, to prevent any scratches or damage to it.  The car would be cordoned off with safety cones and covered in plastic when not in use, while the interior would be covered when people were inside it.
Even still, one scene had the car run into some debris and smash up the front panel of the car. I can imagine that the person driving probably got chewed out and then fired.

TF3 was the first film since 9/11 that was allowed to be filmed at the NASA Cape Kennedy space center. Bay is the only director to have filmed there twice, and is probably the last to film an actual working space shuttle now that the program has ended.  They even managed to get all the way to the launch platform, despite initially being told they couldn't go past the perimeter gate. But with constant arm-twisting and negotiating, they got closer than most NASA employees do.
Filming on the roof itself was also something they boasted, as less than 5% of NASA staff have even had access to the roof and its view.
Even the fact that the shuttle was exposed on the platform was sheer luck, as the main gantry that encloses it, was only just opened the night before.

It's amazing to hear everyone talk about how hard Bay is, but praise him for it, because its the role needed for a successful director, and they see that he gets the job done and gets the best out of his people and his "art".
They also commented on how much he changes his mind and vision throughout filming, improvising and adding things... making a script need to be vague and adaptable. Another reason why a Writers' strike wouldn't be a reason for TF2 being labelled as bad.

He seems to be a mix of traditionalist (wants to do as much special effects during filming as possible to minimise CG effects), and modernist (using the latest technology and techniques - often being the pioneer).

They showed his own personalised Nike shoes that Nike gave him as a gift, with "Bayhem" written on the sides.
If he ever sold those one of a kind pair of shoes on ebay, they'd fetch a hefty price I think.

Bay got to talk with the astronauts on the space station, while at NASA.

They talk about using Chicago, and how much access and power they got to film there. They were only the second time Michigan Avenue was shut down. The first being for Oprah.

The amount of people that came to watch the Chicago shooting was estimated to be over 20 thousand, and when they had a chance, they would be allowed to meet the crowds of people... which would give the cast a boost. It was described as like being at Universal Studios, with all the fans mobbing the stars.

You get to see a lot of the filming "rough cuts" before post-production editing and CG effects are added.

The gliding wing-suits were an impulsive addition, after Bay saw it on 60 Minutes. He had his people contact the stunt divers straight away to get them onto the movie.  It took a lot of prep work, and even involved some base jumping off Willis Tower, but the main jumps were out of a helicopter. Everything in the movie except the craft they jump out of is real, and this segment was to prove that.
One had to jump with a 3D camera mounted on his head.
This was the first time wing-suits had been base-jumped from a building in America.

The Driller once again challenged ILM, who already broke new ground and animation records with Devastator in TF2. This one would again crash computers, even with newer, better technology driving it.
The sound effects also broke records, with one segment of the movie maxing out the total number of sound effects possible - something that has never happened before.
The sound of the Driller screaming is actually a recording of a baboon.

They showed Leonard Nimoy recording some lines, and how they got him on board.

The unfortunate thing about seeing these behind-the-scenes clips is seeing how many "high command" people it takes to make this movie, but it's the Director who gets all the credit (and big bucks). The number of people who do the work, with Bay telling them what to do... it's like the CEO of a company who tells the managers what he wants to happen, but the managers do all the work for the CEO to make a bigger bonus. I kinda felt bad for all those people who were doing the leg work, while Bay would be sitting in his office telling different people what to do, or what to do with his new thoughts for the day. And they had a lot of freedom, so a lot of their ideas end up being credited to the one name pinned to the movie - the Director.

There was also a featurette/documentary on NASA, detailing past, present and future. It was very informative, a bit moving, and also surprising... to see it included, despite it not having anything to do with the DotM Movie itself.

Overall, I found the special features for TF3 to be more rewarding (worth the time spent watching it all) than expected, and more than usual for what Movies have as Extra features.

Now to watch the Movie with commentary audio playing... to find out more background info on this movie (usually where all the good stuff is found).

Thursday 16 February 2012

Next lot of February Transformers arrives

A couple weeks ago, as the odds of the later waves of DotM Toys being released here were shrinking to virtually zero, I had a look on ebay to see what prices I would need to pay to secure them from foreign sources.
Ones I was after included the Deluxe Soundwave, Deluxe Que/Wheeljack, Deluxe Leadfoot, and JP exclusive Neo-scanning Bumblebee.
Comparing prices of the 3 or 4 available options (the rarity of each was already driving up the prices), I found each, as well as the TFPrime Vehicon and United Wipe-Out toys that were also on my list.
One of the dealers had the two latest Disney Label Mickey Mouse toys as well, so I grouped that as well.

Today at the post office I picked up four boxes, from four different countries (Japan, Malaysia, HongKong, Taiwan).
(click on image for full size version)
From left - DotM Que (JP version as the Hasbro version has been cancelled since I purchased these), DotM Soundwave (Hasbro version, but only released in Taiwan it seems), DotM Leadfoot (JP version with no Target logo, as the Hasbro version with logo is now not going to happen), DotM Neo-Scanning Bumblebee (JP Exclusive - a brighter yellow than the regular Bbee), Disney Label Mickey Mouse (classic Mickey colour), Disney Label Mickey Mouse (Christmas colour), TFPrime Vehicon (JP First Edition, which is now not going to be released by Hasbro - completes my set of FE figures), Alternity Gold Bug (completes my set of released Alternity toys), United Wipe-Out & Windcharger (JP figures - I wanted Wipe-Out because it is an original series comic character, but was packed with Windcharger, which I already have from the Hasbro version).

I have only transformed the Vehicon and two United toys so far, so that I could have them all in vehicle mode, so will comment more on all of these later when I have more time (probably the weekend).

I did grab the other three Mickey toys and their packaging for a group shot to start with though...
From left - Optimus colours, mono-colour (or vintage Mickey colours), Halloween colours, Christmas colours, Classic Mickey Colours.

Now to decide if I want to get the JP "Nightwatch" Black & Chrome Jetwing Optimus... another big, expensive, limited edition version of a toy I haven't yet played with.

CCs Corn Chips review

I will often support the underdog, like Pepsi over Coke or Hungry Jacks/BK over McDonalds.
On this occasion, I want to support our Australian CCs over the American Doritos, but at this point, we don't have much to work with in CCs favour compared to their range here.

CCs are an Australian brand of Corn Chips, that were introduced here some time in the 1980s, some 30 years after Frito-Lay first released their Corn Chips in America as Doritos.  Unfortunately, the CCs brand changed hands a number of times due to buy-outs, takeovers and mergers, to end up in the hands of Frito-Lay. Since the American company had its own brand of Corn Chips, they stopped production of CCs and introduced their Doritos here. (same happened with Samboy chips and Cheezels, as they wanted to sell their Smiths Chips and Cheetos here)
After they were forced to sell off a number of snackfood brands, to avoid being penalised for being a monopoly in this country, we eventually saw a return of these Australian snackfood brands several years ago, including CCs (and Samboy).
And they were once again Australian owned.

But if I remember correctly, the introduction of Doritos (with lighter coloured corn chips), led to CCs now no longer having their noticeably darker corn chips, which were a lot crunchier (less "fragile" than the other type). The texture of the CCs now matches the more dainty Doritos... and as you'll see below, they also copied the flavours and packaging colours too. (I liked the crunchier yellower corn chips)
A bit disappointing, as they haven't hid their strategy of copying the competition.
The three main flavours of CCs are Original/Plain (in green), Tasty Cheese (in red) and Nacho Cheese (in yellow).  All the same as our main Doritos flavours in Australia.

They've re-established themselves here again, so they really need to make an effort of stepping out of Doritos' shadow and take the initiative for the American Doritos to follow instead.
Even their most recent flavour - 2 Flavour Smash - is copied from a concept Doritos have in America (two distinctly different flavours in the one pack), but at least they got it out here first, which would look like Doritos copied them if they ever bring out more of their American flavours here.
Last October however, CCs did introduce a new flavour (and concept) to Australia - "Energy". I've never seen them in America, so could well be unique concept entirely. It basically adds caffeine to the Corn Chip, to give it a kick. Not something you want mixed with Saturated Fats and artificial additives, which already raises the blood pressure.
Besides, caffeine or other legal stimulants are best ingested by way of a liquid medium (like Cola or Energy Drinks).  The solid medium of Corn Chips gives it a more "slow release" format though, so the "coffee" feel lasts for quite a while.

So with CCs on sale at Coles this week, and the Energy variety being cleared out (I guess they are being discontinued due to lack of interest), I bought up each of the flavours they stocked. For some reason they didn't have the plain/Original flavour (which I don't recall seeing anywhere - I didn't think it existed before seeing it on their website today).

From right is the Tasty Cheese, Nacho Cheese (both in 200gm), 2-flavour Smash (Tasty Cheese + Sour Cream & Chilli - at a smaller 175gm size), and the Energy Cheese (only in 90gm packs).
I separated the 2-flavour smash flavours, with the (yellow) cheese being on the left and the (white) chilli being on the right.

Now for the taste test...

Tasty Cheese - The standard fake cheese taste, so kinda boring, and not as strong as I was expecting. The packaging says "even tastier", but that may be from them adding (or increasing) the MSG content. Snackfoods go through these cycles, removing it with great fanfare to promote a healthier image, and then quietly add it back in later under a banner of better flavour. With me being one of those people with an allergy to MSG (a lot of people have the same sensitivity), it means I can't eat too much of these if I don't want to start sneezing, getting a runny nose or even itchy skin. (the first two I will have tomorrow though, after eating these 4 packs tonight) 2/5

Nacho Cheese - A subtle cheese flavour, but the tomato and garlic flavourings aren't significant enough to overpower the cheese. 3/5

2-Flavour Smash (Cheese & Chilli) - Individually and together, every mouthful is a different flavour. And the Chilli flavour is one of the better ones, and not just because it is the only non-cheese flavour. And even if you just eat a Cheese chip from the pack, it has some of the chilli flavouring rubbed off onto it, making it a nice bitey cheese flavour. I loved the Doritos twin-flavour varieties in America, and think this is the best Corn Chips flavour currently in this country (by both CCs or Doritos). 4.5/5

Energy Cheese -A strong cheese flavour, actually tastes like burnt cheese (like when you grill cheese on toast and it just goes a little too dark). The caffeine kicks in a few minutes later, and you can feel it thumping in your chest for some time after the pack is finished. 1/5

See a pattern here? Every flavour is Cheesy. It makes their line-up very boring. The best was the 2-Flavour Smash because it was the one that was most different from all the cheeses.  Apparently they used to have a BBQ flavour, something they could desperately use for some variety here, to break up the wall-to-wall cheese. I can think of a few flavour options at their disposal that they could use to add some variety, while avoiding the appearance of still copying Doritos.

And as with the Doritos road test, I tried each flavour again with Sour Cream (my preferred dip for flavoured chips).
Tasty Cheese - Softens that fake cheese taste, to make it a more creamy cheese flavour. 3/5

Nacho Cheese - This was my favourite flavour of Doritos, and again with this brand, the Sour Cream really brings out its flavour. I'd still like to see a meatier taste (that Doritos once had when they first came to this country). 4/5

2-Flavour Smash (Cheese & Chilli) - This couldn't get any better. It's like I'm eating every type of Mexican dish at once... with the cheese, the chilli, the sour cream.... yum. I can't stop eating them. 5/5

Energy Cheese - And on the other end of the spectrum, we have something that doesn't taste any better, and is a concept that must have doctors horrified. Fat-filled corn chips are unhealthy enough on their own, shortening lifespans with excessive consumption... do they need to add in an ingredient that can be deadly in the short term as well. It still tastes like burnt cheese. 1/5

The good thing about eating chips with Sour Cream, is when you end up with a handful of crumbs and fragments of chips in the bottom of the packet (especially with white corn chips being more fragile), you can crush them up and mix it into a little bit of the Sour Cream, to make a crunchy, creamy, cool-ish, flavourful, taste sensation.
It probably explains why so many Chip brands have been coming out with a Sour Cream (and something) flavour in recent years, as it compliments and even improves other (fake) flavours.

Domino's Chicken Ribs - FAIL

This WAS going to be a review to hopefully recommend this new Dominos item, but instead, I've ended up recommending avoiding them instead.

In the last week or so I've been seeing a lot of commercials on TV for Domino's new "Chicken Ribs".  They are small pieces of chicken (possibly a segment of the wing, or shoulderblade), soaked in some sort of flavouring.
I wanted to see how they compared to KFC's recent (failed) effort with their spicy wings, so last weekend I tried to get some.

Saturday afternoon, I got ready to drive to the nearest Dominos for a dinner of pizza and chicken... but lucky I thought to look on their website for an idea of the price, because I would have been really annoyed if I hadn't.
Because the website told me that the Chicken was only available between 11am to 4pm.  That's right - the commercial that features most at nights, is not even available at night.
Since it was already past 4pm on Saturday, I had missed out that day.  Big Failure on their part in terms of availability.

Sunday lunch-time, I was still wanting to try these out, but had lost the motivation to drive off and wait around just to get some. So I went back to the website to look at getting something delivered.
I certainly wasn't going to just have the Chicken delivered on its own, so I decided to get a couple pizzas as well. I couldn't find any discount vouchers for Dominos, as they used to have them everywhere in the past. I certainly wasn't going to pay full-price for their "anemic" pizzas (deep-dish is almost as thin as classic crust now, and so few toppings, you see more base than toppings), so imagine my surprise that the prices delivered (before delivery fee) were more than the pickup prices. $10 for the cheapest pizza with 1-3 toppings, compared to $5-9 pickup (depending on the day).
After spending a couple minutes filling out all my details, I started by adding one of the cheapest pizzas into the "cart", which showed up as $20 (that includes the $10 delivery fee).  This was for a single topping pizza... for $20.  I added in a second one which had 2 toppings, and it was now $30.
And I hadn't clicked on the Chicken Ribs yet.
That would have brought up the total to $35... for two tiny, thin pizzas with minimal toppings & about 2 wings' worth of chicken. Another Big Failure on their part... for value this time.

I closed the browser window, turned off the computer and went to KFC for a much cheaper filling feed, to try out their new Streetwise Feast - 6 pieces of chicken, 3 strips, 6 nuggests, 2 large chips & 2 sauces... for $20.
Dominos pizzas are now too small and empty of toppings to fill me up anymore, but for almost half as much money, I was full before I was able to finish off the KFC meal.

Being so put off by these two failed attempts to sample their new item, I don't feel inspired enough to want to try them at all now.
Oh, and if you're in the mood for a pizza-franchise pizza, I recommend Pizza Capers (for their creative and full-of-toppings pizzas), or Eagle Boys (for their desert pizzas).
Now if only one of them could do a Chicago-style pizza... I'd be all over it.

Saturday 11 February 2012

First items for February

After a few weeks of no purchases (and no new TFs toys released in Australia since the first week of December), a new batch arrived at my postbox.

Disney Label Donald (Halloween colours)
EZ Chronicle series 2 (Gen2 Optimus, Gen2 Megatron, Silverstreak, Prowl, Hound, Starscream, Skywarp, Rodimus)

Transformers Trilogy Bluray Ultimate set

And from Ebay, from two different sources
DotM Dragon Ultimate Optimus
United Stepper

The smaller figures in robot mode.

That brings the total up to 3,497... Another 3 and I'll be counting down the next major milestone of four thousand.

A closer look...

United Stepper - a nice redeco of the United/Classicverse Jazz, packed with a bonus Targetmaster gun... homaging the original Gen1 Stepper (which was a targetmaster redeco of Gen1 Jazz). The only difference this time, which is a bit of a shame, is that Stepper wasn't remoulded to accommodate the Targetmaster gun in car mode.
The Gen1 reissue on the left, is without the shoulder cannon/launcher.
The Japanese ebay seller who sent it, included these...

Biscuit snacks with a chocolaty cream filling, with Koalas printed on the front.
It's kinda funny that a Japanese seller is sending to an Australian customer, a packet of Koala bikkies...
But they need to understand that customs could have confiscated this expensive toy or fined me for having food sent in a package that didn't have food declared on the Customs form on the front.
(and they weren't very tasty either... but at least they were from Osaka, which is half a country away from the radiation zone in the north)

 The Halloween edition Donald Duck, next to the Halloween edition Mickey Mouse from a year earlier.
I didn't even think this one was released, until I found it on BBTS (musta been the only one they had left), because the Christmas Edition Buzz Lightyear was cancelled and it was listed for release at about the same time as this version of Donald Duck.
And with the first two versions of Donald - Halloween, regular, monochrome.

The second series of the JP Chronicle EZ toys, next to the equivalent Hasbro versions.
Left of each is the JP version, right of each is the Hasbro version - Hound, Prowl, Megatron, Rodimus.
Hound is darker, making it look more toy-coloured, while Prowl is virtually unchanged (aside from the rubsigh/symbol). Rodimus is pretty much an entirely new colour scheme, but both versions work well. Megatron is the interesting one though. Hasbro released him in the green deco of the bigger Gen2 toy (just not a bright green & purple though), while TakaraTomy did theirs in the purple/black deco of the smaller Gen2 toy.  Even though Megatron only appeared in the comic in the green form, the purple toy ends up being more accurate colouring to at least one of the Gen2 Megatron toys. Hasbro is unlikely to redeco it, so I'm glad I got this version.

The three different Optimus figures (JP Gen1 from first Chronicle series, Hasbro version, JP Gen2 from second Chronicle series), and the two different Starscreams to show the one significant difference - the head is entirely black, not just painted on the face (so it spoils the jet mode by having that black bit on the nose).
That's really weird for TakaraTomy to do that to Starscream, making the Hasbro version look better, despite their lack of painted Decepticon symbols. TakaraTomy didn't do that to their Thundercracker figure in Series 1, so I don't see why they needed to make the whole head black on Starscream in this second series.

And the three JP Seekers.

Finally, the Year of the Dragon edition Ultimate Optimus Prime.
This was an expensive purchase of a toy, that is a redeco of another toy that I hadn't yet played with. As with most of the larger DotM toys, I still haven't gotten around to converting them after buying many of them 7-8 months ago.
But since starting this blog, I've been having more time and inspiration to explore my toys as I get them. And I'm finding that these toys aren't as much of a chore to figure out as they used to be... I'm actually wanting to work out the toys more now, rather than "needing to convert them" just because they need to be displayed in robot mode.
As such, as soon as I took the photo of the new arrivals, I grabbed the regular one off my shelves, and converted both at the same time, to get a good look at the differences.
First, the Dragon version robot, next to its box to show how different the robot is to what was planned (red plastic for the front of the truck, which become the wrists). It also shows the feet being grey, but the actual toy has the same gold feet of the regular version.
But next to the regular Optimus, the red wrists are the only colour difference I could find between them. The trailer was the main featured recolouring of this special edition toy.

The trailer is indeed a brightly mix of colours, contrasting the almost-boring grey of the regular (screen-accurate) version. This is both in their trailer/exosuit armour.
(click on any image to bring up the full-size version)

And with some other Movie Primes for size comparison.

I was a bit surprised at how easily I was able to transform them into their full/combined robot modes, as I've been put off by Movie-toy engineering in recent years... as the larger figures are usually too complicated to be fun enough to want to convert them.
I had expected the individual robot component to be out on its proportions (to compensate for the combined mode), but seeing the way the arms and legs are completely contained within the exosuit, it couldn't understand why the arms were so odd-looking. In the end, the lack of a secondary separate robot head for the combined mode, you end up with a "pin head" leader... or an immoveable brick when the targeting helmet is put in place.
The concept is good, mostly because it allows us to get a full trailered version of Optimus as a toy, without it being a large hollow box... but some may prefer that though, as it would be a better homage to Gen1 Optimus, without spoiling it by trying to incorporate a gimmick like this one.
Fortunately, or even surprisingly, the trailer manages to hold together quite well, despite all the panels. But the compromise of having big panels for stability is ending up with a giant butterfly effect in robot mode... a mode that isn't really in the movie, so makes it difficult to warrant such a hefty expense on the original, let alone this limited version.
Actually, the red dragon deco is probably a better reason for buying this mould than the regular version, because if you're going to spend a lot of money on a toy that is only half accurate to its Movie form, then there isn't much of a point of having a movie-accurate colour scheme. Save the accurate colour scheme on one of the smaller, cheaper versions, and splash out on something that at least looks different enough and impressive with its colours to be worth showing off in either mode.
The tough choice then is deciding which mode to display it in... (or buy two)

Thursday 2 February 2012

Random Transformers photos from my archives

Going through my archives, I thought I'd share a few interesting pics I found.

The various Universe boxes, with the artwork of each character showing. (click on image to see it in full size)

And the Animated boxes, with their character artworks.

And here's a photo of a Fantales wrapper... with one particular trivia question that readers here had better get correct! :p