Saturday, May 23, 2015

G1 Trypticon Platinum Reissue!
New for Hasbro's Platinum Series of Transformer figures is the announcement of G1 Trypticon!  This motorized walking dinosaur-city has been a fan favorite and is due for a release!  More info to come as we receive it.  Make sure to pre-order yours today:

Sunday, May 17, 2015

BadCube's OST-04 Warrior Wardog review!

Our reviewer, Paik4Life, has just posted his detailed review of BadCube's Warrior Wardog. The engineering on this figure is amazing! Make sure to order yours today!

Monday, May 11, 2015

MasterMind Creations Felisaber, or Who the Heck is Catilla?

Who is this last member of Feral Rex?

Felisaber, the sixth member of the MasterMind Creations Predaking homage known as Feral Rex, has raised a few eyebrows in the collecting community. We already have an accurate Predaking, so why do we need a yellow sabertooth tiger limb?

While I more than understand skipping Felisaber, what I aim to do here is convince you that MasterMind has made a really cool and creative choice with this figure. The Transformers character they've chosen to homage is a very obscure one, even by diehard fan standards. Felisaber is a representation of the 1988 Pretender Beast Catilla.

1988 Pretender Catilla. Left: Shell. Center: Alt Mode. Right: Robot Mode  Image Source: Transformers Wikia

"But Patrick," I hear you Google-masters cry out, "it says here that Catilla is an Autobot! Why would he ever join the Predacons?" To which I can only reply, sit back, cause I'm about to spin a strange story. Two characters you've never heard of were used to tell a Transformers story that was well ahead of its time. And the only reason I know anything about it is because of my choice of reading material on a plane trip, six years ago almost to the day.

It was my very first plane trip from Maryland, where I went to college, and Texas, where I live now. I flew down for an interview, which fortunately paid off. I have a tradition, then and now, of picking up some new reading material for a flight, usually a trade paperback of comics. And in my local comic shop my interest was piqued by a little book called "The Transformers: Time Wars."
The Transformers #199 Comic

"Time Wars" was a story arc in the Marvel Generation 1 series. Most fans know that Generation 1 fiction started concurrently as the more famous TV series and as a Marvel Comics series. What is less generally realized is that a great many of these Marvel stories were exclusive to the United Kingdom, forming a somewhat distinct timeline/franchise called "Marvel UK" or "Transformers UK." If you are interested in exploring this well-regarded era of fiction, I heartily recommend "The Transformers Classic UK" omnibuses currently available from IDW.

IDW Best of UK Transformers Series

Anyway, there's a lot going on in "Time Wars," but one issue deals with an alliance of Autobots and Decepticons to take down Megatron and Galvatron (it's called "Time Wars" for a reason). Two of the Decepticons are Pretender Beasts...Carnivac, and Catilla!

What's going on? Is this a simple error? It's more than that. Author Simon Furman was laying threads for the post-Time Wars comics here, and he decided to set up a heretofore unprecedented storyline for the franchise: a faction shift.

The only noteworthy thing Catilla does in "Time Wars" is survive. So does his leader Carnivac, as well as the Autobots Springer, Inferno, and Broadside...the other twenty-five Transformers in their group were torn apart by Megatron and Galvatron. In subsequent issues, the five warriors band together after their horrific encounter and have several other adventures. Springer extends the two Deceptions an invitation into the ranks of the Autobots. Carnivac refuses--he may be their friend and ally now, but he keeps his Decepticon badge. Catilla, however, becomes an Autobot. Now the character matched the toy.

Outcast by Feral Rex

Catilla's story wasn't quite over, however. The rather more well-known Pretender Bludgeon is dispatched by the Decepticons to execute the traitors. In a fierce melee, Bludgeon kills Catilla. This drives Carnivac mad with grief, and for the remainder of Marvel UK he mercilessly stalks his former Decepticon colleagues.

Felisaber's demise

Catilla may have lived and died just to facilitate Carnivac's storyline. In retrospect, Carnivac is a clear precursor to popular turncoats like Beast Wars Dinobot and Armada Starscream. However, later authors have used Catilla here and there in cameos. Due to his odd history in G1, he's been a Decepticon as often as an Autobot. Given his more-than-appropriate alt mode and his similarities to Razorclaw and Rampage, it's easy to imagine him as a sometime Predacon.

Felisaber in beast mode

Felisaber with special helmet

MasterMind Creations' Felisaber is a rare modern homage to one of the most obscure--yet historic--Generation 1 Decepticons. His styling is even similar to Hasbro's modern Pretender homages, in that he lacks a separate shell, but elements of his alt mode call back his original toy's helmed organic form. His inclusion in the Feral Rex combination is an example of the spark of creative innovation that has consistently made MMC one of the better unofficial transforming robot manufacturers.

Feral Rex Ultimate Mode

Felisaber combined with Feral Rex

Friday, May 8, 2015

BadCube OTS-04 WarDog Preview!

Thanks to BadCube, we've been lucky enough to be able to get our hands on a pre-production sample of their upcoming OTS-04 Wardog.  Here's a quick written review by ProjektZeroThree with a full video review from Paik4Life forthcoming.

The box design is the familiar two color solid block design as we would expect.  It's a lot larger than the last three releases.
 BadCube OTS-04 Wardog Box Design
BadCube OTS-04 Wardog Box Design

Upon opening the box I was blown away by the sheer size of the figure.  We've seen pictures of with comparisons to MP-10 Optimus Prime and MP-22 Bumblebee, but it's not till you're actually holding this figure that you can really appreciate the size of it!

BadCube OTS-04 Wardog Tank Mode

 In tank mode the detail is amazing!  The colors are spot on for G1 Warpath and the molded design is incredible! The tank treads are molded on and made of plastic but still looks pretty good in alt mode.

The conversion from tank to robot mode has a bit of complexity built in.  It's wonderfully engineered and thought out.  Every part fits in nicely and attaches with precision.  The shoulders were a bit tricky to convert but the instructions that were included assisted with the conversion.

Wardog in robot mode

Wonderful details on the face and body.

Backside shot of Wardog

 BadCube did a wonderful job with this figure!  The quality and detail is probably the best they've done thus far.  Super posable with very good joints.  While we didn't have any issues with any of the joints, BadCube did let us know that there will be more joint improvements on the final production versions.

Wardog with gun and shield accessory

This is definitely one to pick up for your MP collection.  The pricing was a concern at first but after playing with this, I have to say it's completely worth it.  The amount of detail and complexity is phenomenal.  The quality is all there and I can see that BadCube is really upping their game!  My one suggestion is maybe having a swivel on the shield so that it can rotate as you're quite limited on how you can pose the shield.  But that's such a minor thing to such a great figure. I'm looking forward to all that BadCube has planned for the future! 


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Soul of Chogokin GX-34R Gunbuster!

The latest Soul Of Chogokin figure from Bandai's Tamashii Nations is GX-34R Gunbuster!  These product images are stunning!  Gunbuster is a classic among all fans!  SOC figures are heavily allocated so make sure to get your pre-order in!

Unique Toys Ordin soon to be completed!!

Unique Toy's latest combiner, Ordin, will soon be completed as the last two parts for the figure have been announced!  Here are some images of the final two figures. Final colors may vary as these are testshots.  Make sure to stop by Toy Dojo to pick up the last two figures to complete the mighty Ordin!

Unique Toys O-05 Hagen (alt mode)

Unique Toys O-05 Hagen  (robot mode)

Unique Toys O-04 Siegfried (robot mode)
Unique Toys O-04 Sigfried (alt mode)

Unique Toys Ordin full combined!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

MasterMind Creations' R12 Cynicus: Overview and Review

Any red-blooded Transformers fan should be intrigued by R12 Cynicus. He’s crazy posable, has a deliciously despicable Decepticon head, and he turns into a giant sniper rifle.

I imagine that many such fans turned to their fellows in the collecting community to ask, just who is this guy? Unfortunately, a veteran collector’s response to such a query would be a veritable alphabet soup, filled with lingo abbreviations like “the 3P MMC’s figure of the DJD.” Some help to an old-school or casual fan we are.

To understand R12 Cynicus, you have to understand something about two recent phenomena in the Transformers fandom. The first is the rise of the “third party,” in other words, non-official, Transformers. The second is the officially-licensed IDW Transformers comic universe. Without the popularity of the comic and the rise of practically made-to-order unofficial robot toys, there is no Cynicus.

Mastermind Creations, the company that manufactures Cynicus, is just one of dozens of boutique transforming-robot manufacturers that have emerged from Asia this decade. The Transformers collecting community, uniquely, has proven able to support high-end unofficial manufacturing. Transformers are unlike most action figures in that each design is unique and may employ dozens of interlocking plastic-molded parts. While custom Transformers are certainly popular, entirely newly designed Transformers characters tend to appear in fiction much faster than Hasbro could ever design and release a toy to represent them.

Mastermind Creations (MMC) has taken particular advantage of this ability for small manufacturers to quickly satisfy fans. They specialize in characters who have recently appeared in the pages of IDW’s Transformers comics. They first came on the scene with a series of “steampunk” Transformers based directly on designs done for the “Hearts of Steel” miniseries. Not only were the figures spot-on, but their accompanying comic-format instruction manuals could easily be read as IDW fan fiction.

After their steampunk line, they switched to making figures of prominent characters from the main line of IDW comics that nevertheless had no official representation. This line includes designs based on Sixshot, Arcee, a slight detour into a set of combining Predacons, and now Cynicus. But unlike the previous figures in the MMC stable, Cynicus is not based on a transforming toy from the 1980s. He is wholly original to IDW’s Transformers fiction.

Cynicus is unmistakably a three-dimensional version of “Vos,” a character created by writer James Roberts and designed by Alex Milne in 2012. Vos is a member of the “Decepticon Justice Division,” or “DJD.” This is a group of five terribly powerful Decepticons who concentrate on torturing and slaughtering other Decepticons who they deem traitorous or unworthy.

The members of the DJD use code names taken from the first Cybertronian cities to fall to the Decepticons during the war. This “Vos” is at least the second Transformer to bear that codename. His real name and history are not known. Therefore, the typical third-party practice of giving their toys based on Transformers characters a euphemistic name is doubly appropriate in the case of this character. We may never find out his true name, therefore “Cynicus” seems as good a name as any right now.

He’s also the most mysterious and memorable member of the DJD, making him a wise choice to start off the group. He’s the newest member of the team, yet he’s seemingly a very old ‘bot, so old that he does not speak the modern Cybertronian language. In addition, there is a flashback panel that seems to show Megatron using him in gun mode to assassinate a Prime, back in the very earliest days of the Decepticon movement. Finally, his haunting method of torture involves removing his own face and attaching it to an enemy’s, letting it drill through and mutilate his victim’s face. This is faithfully depicted with an alternate head and detached-face accessory on the Cynicus toy. The “mature audiences only” nature of the DJD is one reason why they are an excellent choice for a “third party” to tackle—Vos is not a good candidate for a children’s toy on the shelves of Walmart, so MMC will not be undercut by an official Hasbro effort.

So with all the background out of the way, is Cynicus a good toy, and a good collector's item? This was only my second MasterMind Creations product, after their uncommonly excellent Hexatron. I'm happy to report that Cynicus is of the same caliber (pun intended).

The box--a tiny adorable version of Hexatron's--contains the main figure, his two-part gun, his alternate "faceless" head, his holdable face, and a special attachment to the gun mode for the MMC combiner "Feral Rex" to hold it. I set aside this last part, since I don't have Rex. I also wasn't that impressed by the alternate head and face accessory--I really like that they are included, but I love the normal head on this guy so much that I hesitate to pop it off!

He's about normal Deluxe size, despite his he is between his fellow IDW-themed figures "Tall Tankor" and "Fat Tankor."

The sculpt oozes personality. Many details are faithfully replicated. His usual somewhat quizzical expression is reflected by a slightly-larger left eye. The double-handle on his right arm and sensor/laser things above his shoulders are right, too. His large gun stores in a way that looks just like his comic-accurate kibble, and you can disassemble it to give him a pistol.

As is customary for "third party" toys, there are no Autobot or Decepticon tampographs but there is a large space for a faction symbol label to be placed. Fortunately I had some "Energon glow" labels from Reprolabels handy. The effect is very striking on this character.

Due to the small size and intricate nature of the character, I had some concerns about transformation. Fortunately I can report that transformation is not unnecessarily complex nor does it have to take a long while. The instructions were helpful, though they were not initially clear on what must be done with his backpack (in an early step you must pop it off, with a fair amount of force, leaving it attached to the main body by only a small arm that connects to the torso). The small pieces on the shoulders look delicate but they are only cosmetic, you can move them freely and they don't have to snap anywhere. I did spot a stress mark in part of the backpack assembly...make sure everything is rotated in the correct orientation before attempting to snap it back in place for robot mode!

The sniper rifle mode is extremely accurate and attractive. Only a few concessions to physical reality, like the visible ball joints in the sides, hold it back at all. The transformation engineering is very thoughtful, with everything pegging into place solidly in both modes. (Except, for some reason, the crotch plate in robot mode...cough.)

My problem with it is how few figures it can properly interact with. It has 5 mm handles for theoretically universal compatibility with other Transformers figures. However, for almost any figure to hold him at all, Cynicus' feet/stock must be folded up. He's also too heavy for most figures to hold up with one arm, including "Combiner Wars" combiners.

He would actually be a perfect-sized weapon for Supreme-class Transformers figures, but there are few enough of those. Still, I was surprised how good this particular setup looked:

We also should remember that with his bipod and all he's a heavy weapon, not a shoot-from-the-hip type:

Final thoughts: Cynicus, the Decepticon Justice Division's "Vos," is the epitome of several exciting trends in Transformers fandom. If you want a stunning toy of a new and iconic character, this is for you. It looks and feels brilliant if you have any affinity for Transformers. If you're not invested in the fiction though, it is a little hard to recommend for the price. I hope that this new entry in the "Reformatted" series represents a standard price for the "DJD" themed figures and that his upcoming teammates Anarchus ("Kaon") and Kultur ("Tarn") will deliver similar price and value by dialing down the complexity as they dial up the size.