Friday, 20 April 2018

FansProject Lost Exo Realm LER-05 Comera

(Femme-Bot Friday #47)
This almost certainly isn't the first time I've made myself look like a bit of a hypocrite, having repeatedly denounced the very concept of Dinobots, only to buy one and find it's actually quite good, objectively speaking.

FansProject started their Lost Exo Realm series of unofficial Masterpiece Dinobots, surprisingly, with their own take on Sludge - where most other Third Parties seemed to start with Grimlock - and only got to the Dinobot commander after their versions of Slag and Swoop... But the bigger surprise was how they followed him - not with their version of the final G1 Dinobot, Snarl, but with a pair of original characters built around the same basic structure... Dino-Femme-Bots, no less.

Naturally, that piqued my interest, so I ordered the first of them, Comera, toward the end of last year, with a view to potentially getting the second, Echara, if it turned out to be good... Because if I'm going to make myself a hypocrite, I want to go full-on about it.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Titans Return Brawn

I've often mentioned that I'm basically ambivalent about much of the fiction associated with the TransFormers brand. Sure, I watched the G1 TV show (when I could - it wasn't exactly aired consistently in the UK, jumping between various time slots in myriad different early morning TV shows), and I'm a huge fan of Beast Wars, TF Animated and TF Prime... I also read the Marvel comic back in the day, but didn't think much of it once the decree came down to stop using the toys as art reference.

But, to cut a long story short, I'm pretty sure that G1 Brawn was a figure I bought largely because of a story in the UK comics - specifically, The Enemy Within (written by franchise stalwart Simon Furman, and brilliantly illustrated by John Ridgway, Mike Collins and Gina Hart) - in which Brawn gets electrocuted and suffers a psychotic break, while Starscream makes his first proper attempt to usurp Megatron, the net result being that one ends up pitted against the other in a one-on-one battle in the desert. It's not the greatest story ever - Furman is far from being my favourite writer at the best of times - but it showcased the characters far better than the TV show ever did.

Like many G1 Mini Autobots who are not Bumblebee, Brawn has had only a very few reworkings over the years - the most notable probably being the bizarre Deluxe class figure in the N.E.S.T. Global Alliance subline of Revenge of the Fallen. With Titans Return, however, Hasbro are trawling their back catalogue - if not actually scraping the barrel quite yet - for characters ripe for an update... And Brawn just happened to be another of the lucky ones...

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Hunt for the Decepticons Sidearm Sideswipe

Revenge of the Fallen's take on the G1 character Sideswipe wasn't exactly a fan favourite. Everything about him was wrong, from the make of car to its paint job, from the look of the robot to the minimal characterisation. The original version of the toy wasn't brilliant, with a couple of clumsy, boring Mech Alive gimmicks and huge chunks of car panels hanging off its back, but Hasbro decided to take a mulligan in the Hunt for the Decepticons subline, creating a version of the character with guns rather than swords, and tidying up much of the transformation scheme.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Power of the Primes Battleslash & Roadtrap (aka Duocon Battletrap)

One thing post-Diaclone Generation 1 got right was its constant innovation within the concept of 'TransFormers'. Even when the toys these innovations delivered were objectively crap, and ridiculously simplistic compared to the sort of thing Takara had originally produced, it was the toymaking technology, not the new ideas, that let them down.

Combiners, HeadMasters and PowerMasters were all prime examples of this, as Hasbro's more recent reboots of the concepts have clearly proven: components of each gestalt have had reasonable vehicle modes and fully articulated robot modes, while the gestalts themselves are also fully articulated. HeadMasters and PowerMasters may have been boiled down to a single core concept for Titans Return, but each has delivered fully articulated 'bots in five different size classes, with varying degrees of compatibility with the mini-figures.

Power of the Primes has not only developed the Titan Masters concept further, but reintroduced another old G1 concept... Starting with the Duocon Battletrap.

I'd considered splitting this into three separate posts - Battleslash, Roadtrap and finally Battletrap... but I figured that'd just take me too long to complete... So here's the full set, all in one!

Friday, 16 March 2018

HasCon 2017/Titans Return Arcee, Leinad & Ultra Magnus

(Femme-Bot Friday #46)
Hasbro clearly understood that, by ending Fun Publications' license to act as the TransFormers Collectors' Club, they'd have to come up with some sort of replacement for BotCon but, for the inaugural HasCon, at least, TransFormers were only one small facet of the event, given no special consideration.

The absence of BotCon naturally meant the absence of BotCon exclusives, which rubbed a lot of fans up the wrong way (probably those same fans who were regularly rubbed up the wrong way by some aspect - present or lacking - in the BotCon boxed sets, let's face it). That's not to say there weren't any HasCon Exclusives - by the looks of it, there was one for each of Hasbro's major product lines - just that they weren't really 'exclusive' so much as they were 'early access'... And their TransFormers boxed set was contentious for a laundry list of reasons.

But I tend not to let that stop me, particularly when Femme-Bots are involved...

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Toys'R'Us - A Farewell Tour

I've said before that I rarely visit bricks-and-mortar toy shops these days - maybe a quick visit to the (usually poorly stocked) TRU and Entertainer branches in Uxbridge if I'm seeing a movie there at the weekend - and my nearest 'warehouse-style' TRU is a tedious journey away - accessible by several different routes, but all almost equally lengthy. I'd pretty much given up on the latter a few years ago, because (a) I can get almost everything I want online, at Forbidden Planet or Orbital Comics, or at shows like the MCM London Comic Con and, of course, TFNation, and (b) it had got to the point where I virtually never saw anything new there anyway.

However, when I saw the announcement that Toys'R'Us were shutting down across the UK, I decided that deserved a trip not only the the Uxbridge branch, but to the long-neglected Brent Cross branch as well, to see what bargains were there to be had as they attempted to divest themselves of stock before closing their doors for the last time...