Last night I got around to opening the Animated Samurai Prowl which I bought at TRU last week. As promised, here is the full review.
Prowl is packaged in his bike mode so let’s look at this first. His appearance in this mode is nice and sleek. I like his colors of black and gold (kinda like the New Orleans Saints), and the clear blue on the windshield and seat adds a nice touch. I like this color more than the non-Samurai version of Prowl. He’s got a bike stand on the left side that can be lowered so he doesn’t fall over on two wheels.
The gimmick of the Samurai version of Prowl is the inclusion of the sidecar, which transforms into his samurai armor. The pic above shows Prowl in alt mode with the sidecar attachment. With the sidecar, Prowl also looks nice. The sidecar has pretty much the same color scheme as the main unit. It can only be attached on the right side.
Most TFs that transform into motorcycles or bikes are not that robust. This is mostly due to the shape of the bike itself, and I’ll admit that designing a TF that looks good in both bike and robot modes can be a challenge. For figures that transform into cars or jets, the alt mode really feels like one cohesive unit and all the parts and pieces come together nicely. It is less so for figures that transform into bikes, and Prowl is no exception to this trend. Compared to other deluxe figures of this line, say Jazz or Swindle, Prowl does not feel as solid in his alt mode. Some pieces can come apart if you are too rough with him, and it is quite easy to move things out of alignment when you try to attach the sidecar. But in his defense, I will say that Prowl is the most robust bike TF that I have seen in any of the TF lines. The various parts of his frame was designed to come together, and there are tabs and grooves at key locations that was designed to lock things in place. Its too bad they don’t work as well as they should, but he did set a new standard for bike TFs.
As far as construction, Prowl doesn’t seem to be on par with other figures of this line. I’m generally very careful with my TFs (especially the first time I transform them), and I already broke him in one place. This is the first time I broke a figure in any capacity since G1! Take a look at the pic below.
I circled the broken parts in red. The rear tab on the side car sticks into a slot on the rear wheel, and I broke off that tab. It is now permanently stuck in the slot. I must have broken this off the first time I tried to remove the sidecar. I didn’t even realize this until I transformed Prowl back into bike mode and tried to re-attach the side car. It must have been a very flimsy piece. Having it broken off doesn’t really affect the alt mode b/c there’s another tab towards the front that sticks into a slot in the engine area. I am kinda upset about it, but such is life and I should be glad this happened on a deluxe Hasbro figure and not a more expensive piece. But be very careful here if you decide to get this figure.
Prowl has got a very clever transformation from bike to robot. He’s one of those unsymmetrical Transfomers, kinda like ROTF Dirge. And just like Dirge, I am impressed with the transformation design. Formation of the upper body from the windshield and seat area is symmetrical, but the front wheel unit becomes the right leg and the rear wheel unit becomes the left leg. I know it doesn’t sound so cool when I describe it in words, but you will be impressed when you see it in action. The toy designers integrated his body parts into the bike really well and the resulting robot figure does not disappoint in appearance.
I gotta say, Hasbro captured Prowl’s Animated look extremely well. The translation in appearance from show to toy is excellent. In the cartoon he is tall and skinny and that is reflected accurately here. The pic above and below shows him without the samurai armor.
Articulation in robot mode is more than sufficient and Prowl is capable of a wide array of poses. He’s got ball joints in the shoulders, elbows, waist, and hips, and there’s decent rotation in the head, knees, and feet as well. He has two short blades on his forearms that are ready to slice up some Decepticon baddies.
The sidecar transforms into the samurai armor, and the pic below shows off this equipment. I haven’t seen Prowl use the armor in the show, so I’m assuming this is accurate in appearance. But regardless, I think he looks awesome with the samurai attachment. He means business and he’s ready for some action.
With the samurai attachment, Prowl’s movement in the arms is more limited because the shoulder pieces are now in the way. The wheel unit on the sidecar transforms into his samurai blade. Decepticons beware!
Prowl has construction issues in bot mode as well. On my figure, the ball joints on the hips are extremely loose. And as such, it is very difficult to stand the figure as his legs simply give out at the hips most of the time. You have to find that perfect balance to get him to stay standing. And with this problem, it is almost impossible for him to hold his poses despite having the articulation to do so. The problem is even more severe with the samurai armor attached. The hip joints do not support the weight of the armor on the upper body and they give out almost all the time.
Transforming from bot back to bike, these same issues surface as well. It is not uncommon for the legs to come off altogether in the process. I got one arm that is quite loose with the same problem, but the other arm, the same joint is super tight and sometimes I have trouble angling it the way I need to have it back in alt mode. There are construction issues thru and thru on this figure. I don’t know if it’s only on mine or if they are all like this.
Overall, Prowl is a nicely designed figure but he’s got serious construction flaws. I would still pick him up if you see him in the stores, but I don’t think he’s worth paying markup for unless you don’t plan to open him. He is quite rare at this point so finding him may not be easy. There are better figures in the Animated line, but Prowl is worth adding to your collection.
Until next time… Transform and Roll Out!
Last weekend I mentioned I got a whole bunch of robots. Well, the sellers of each shipped them super quick, and Wheeljack arrived on Thur and Cliffjumper and the SV-51 on Fri. I work full time so that meant I picked up all 3 Sat morning at the post office. Handing the PO 3 pick-up slips at the same time was a total trip.
Last night I took out Cliffjumper from its shipping box. I already knew how these are boxed since I have the Alternity Primes. I guess I just wanted to see how CJ looks.
The Alternities are fairly small (about standard TF deluxe size) and I like the fact that Takara is using a box of the appropriate size. I hate it when a huge box is used to package a small figure (I’m not just referring to TFs here). It’s misleading to the buyer, it takes up too much space, and it increases shipping cost. However, I’m not a fan of these clear hard plastic boxes. They dent and crack easy, and there’s just no substitute for the charm of a traditional cardboard box. My understanding is that these are the cheapest boxes to produce, and the way they look certainly reflects that fact.
I never opened an Alternity figure before. I had intended to keep CJ in the box too. My premium Transformers usually remains unopened. I like to keep them mint, and at the same time I like to see them go up in value, kinda like an investment. However the box for CJ is already dinged. Take a look at the lower left corner in the pic above. The future value of this piece already took a hit. I could’ve returned this to the seller, but I don’t need the extra hassles and I really wanted to open an Alternity, and so I went ahead and opened CJ.
After taking the figure out, I’m even less impressed with the box. The whole thing just screams cheap. But I’ll stop ranting about the box now, and just show you this one last pic of the back of the box before I move on to the figure itself.
The first thing you’ll notice about CJ in alt mode is his nice paint job. I guess the best way to describe it is a metallic deep cherry red. G1 purists might complain about this b/c CJ has always been the standard red, but I applaud Takara’s decision to go with this alternate red. This shade goes very well with this mold when you see it in person. He’s definitely got a nice reflective tint in the colors that goes very well the die cast exteriors. Speaking of which, the die cast parts gives this figure more weight and it certainly feels nicer than a lot of the cheap plastic crap that Hasbro produces.
In alt mode he’s got rubber tires. He rolls very well on a flat surface. Cliffjumper is a Suzuki Swift (SX4 Crossover in the US) in the Alternity line and the toy designers captured the look of the car extremely well.
All 4 doors on the unit (5 if you count the rear hatch) opens up like the real Swift. When you look inside you can see the seats, even the rear seats. There’s way more interior details here than your typical TF. The steering wheel is located on the right side of the vehicle. This is a Japanese model for sure.
The hood also opens to reveal where the engine is housed. In this pic below, both the hood and the engine cover is lifted up to expose the engine. Keep in mind that the engine becomes his weapons.
Here are some size comparison shots. He’s only a tad bigger than Classics Bumblebee.
Overall, I’m very happy with the alt mode. For a figure of this size, I find no weaknesses at all. He looks nice, got plenty of detail, feels solid, and just exudes quality. Now let’s take a look at the robot mode.
The first thing you’ll notice here is the very G1 accurate head mold. I’ve ranted about this before and I’ll do it again: it sucks that CJ is almost always an exact repaint of Bumblebee. Well not this time. Takara loves you and they gave Cliffjumper a different head mold from the Bee figure, and they’ve done an excellent job in replicating the G1 design. I dare say this is the best looking Cliffjumper head they’ve ever made. Takara most definitely wins points here.
In robot mode, CJ is significantly taller than Classics Bumblebee. I think part of the reason is that the CJ figure’s legs extends out farther. CJ’s transformation is a little bit complex the first time you try it, but if you’re used to transforming Binaltechs, this should not be new for you. The legs are a little hard to figure out if you’re simply reading the instructions b/c there are so many moving pieces there. I suggest you watch Peaugh’s video of Cliffjumper if you are having trouble transforming him. The upper body is not too bad in terms of the complexity, but that’s not to say it’s simple by any means. He does have this automorph feature; when you pull the legs down, the front windshield goes up towards the chest area. This feature works fairly well when you go from car to robot, but in reverse it can be hard to get it to work. You just have to be patient and keep trying until you get it.
As I’ve said before, the engine comes apart and becomes two guns for him. The handle flips out and they insert easily into either hand. These guns look kinda generic, but it is in fact how his guns looked in the G1 cartoon. Cliffjumper’s G1 figure did not come with weapons and his guns are simply something conjured up by the cartoon designers. It’s nice to see the toy designers of this figure pay homage to that look and give us real guns that CJ can use.
CJ has awesome articulation. The arms can be positioned in a variety of ways. In the legs, he’s got good pivots in the knees and in the feet. The head is on a ball joint and can be turned all over. The only place missing articulation is in the waist, but I’m not really complaining here. The figure is also nicely balanced. I was very impressed with how easily I can make him stand on his legs, considering there’s so much articulation there. CJ is very solid in his construction and certainly hold his poses well.
My first gripe about this figure is the “chunkiness” that other fans have complained about. I suppose these pics really add that extra 10 pounds, but in person the chest area doesn’t look much better. There is quite a bit of bulk there, and I wish the toy designers added some extra mechanism to reduce that extra mass.
CJ: “Jazz, we’re not getting away!”
Jazz: “Well duh… you’re too heavy. Too much energon again?!”
My only other gripe about this figure, and all Alternities in general, is the cost. I paid $47 for CJ, most dealers ask $50+. The figure is simply too small to justify the cost. Only the most hardcore TransFans like myself would even consider paying this. Sure, he’s got a decent level of die cast parts, but still. Binaltechs were much larger (more than twice the size) and they were die cast too, and their cost was about the same.
But overall, I highly recommend Alternity Cliffjumper. If you are a TransFan deeply affected by G1 values, this figure will not disappoint. We have a figure even Casey Kasem would be proud. The price and the chest bulk are concerns, but he’s got way too many positives that easily overshadow his shortcomings. Not only that, if you’re a fan of G1 Diaclone car figures, you owe if to yourself to check out the Alternities. As I was messing with CJ today, I could not help but feel brought back to the mid 80s when I was playing with those figures. Alternities are much more complex than Diaclones, but they are about the same size, they are constructed out of quality materials such as die cast metal and the rubber tires, and they place a heavy emphasis on accurate alt modes. Some TransFans have suggested that Binaltechs are a continuation of those values, a second coming to the golden days of TFs, if you will. But I think with Alternities that’s even more true. Alternities are the very embodiment of the TF spirit that the Diaclones stood for. Again, price is a factor, and I question the choice of turning the alt modes of some characters into sports cars that never were. But this is as close to G1 as we’re ever gonna get without going backwards, and I would love to see this line continued for many more years.
Prime: “Cliffjumper, commence countdown.”
CJ: “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Transform and Roll Out!”
Out of all the Transformer lines that I collect, Transformers Animated is the most recent one next to ROTF. I admit, when I first saw the Animated designs, I was like, “WTF?!” For a G1 purist, the cartoony and whimsical look of TFA was an absolute abomination. It was easy for me to disregard the show completely.
But being the hardcore TransFan that I am, I couldn’t stay away for long. I first saw the Animated toys back in the summer of 2008. I didn’t buy any, but they did grab my attention. I was impressed with the way the toys looked, but at the same time I wasn’t sure if I wanted to invest in a line in which I do not intend to watch the show. Fast forward to around April or May of 2009. I was at Target when I happened upon this Voyager Sunstorm and Activator Ratchet 2-Pack for a measly $5! I wasn’t collecting TFA, but it would have been a crime to not buy the set at such a price. And so I made the purchase and these two became my first TFA figures, one whole year after the initial launch of the line.
I opened the set sometime later, and I was thoroughly impressed with Sunstorm. I was still skeptical of the cartoony design, but I was impressed by the mechanical engineering of the toy and how well it captured that animated look. The Sunstorm figure was robust and had good articulation. The transformation from robot to jet was clever, and the toy designers succeeded in integrating the animated style as part of the transforming function to produce a high-quality figure.
As collectors, we all know that once you buy that first piece in a set or line, you have opened the floodgates to the rest of that line. And so I started to acquire more TFA figures. My next purchase actually came from Cragislist. I bought 15 figures for $80 from zversus. He’s both a big TF fan and a big Gundam fan so check out his youtube vids. But anyway, they were all in really good shape, and with a modest $85 investment I now own 17 TFA figures. Not a bad start to the collection of this line if I dare say so myself.
Between then and now, I bought about half a dozen more TFA figures. I found good deals on all of them. Ultra Magnus I found with my buddy Gemini at TRU for $20 (he got one too). I had a coupon for Wreck-Gar. The only exception was Leader class Megatron. I paid MSRP for him at Amazon, but I don’t regret it one bit b/c he’s such a cool figure. Overall, I’m very impressed with the Animated line of toys. I’m still kinda turned off by their designs, but over time it has kinda grown on me. At least now I find it tolerable. And their looks are still heads and shoulders above the bug-like designs of the Michael Bay TFs. Gemini gave me the Season 2 DVD for xmas and I shall be watching it soon.
But back to the post at hand. Prowl is a character I wanted for a while in this line because, well, he’s Prowl. He’s a very important character in G1, 2nd in command only to Prime in the first two seasons. In Animated he’s one of the 5 central Autobots. I love both ninjas and samurais so I was looking for the Samurai version. I was very happy to find him on the shelves of TRU on Tuesday. I had to pay MSRP, but at this point I’m not really complaining. TFA is officially over, so once these figures are gone, they’re gone.
I will be opening him soon and doing a full review. Stay tuned… Tranform and Roll Out!
I’m starting the new year right! This weekend I bought some more Transformers and Macross stuff and I got good deals on all of them. Here’s what I acquired:
Macross Zero SV-51r Gumma Nora Type Valkyrie 1/60 Scale by Yamato
Yamato always produces great Macross fighters. My most recent Yamato purchase before this weekend was the VF-11B from Macross Plus. Other Yamatos I have include the 1/60 scale YF-19 (with fold booster and fast pack, purchased separately) and a whole bunch of 1/60 VF-1 fighters that were made in the early 2000s (non-Perfect-Transform versions). I am happy to add the SV-51r to my Macross collection. The best part: I found a brand new one for $160 shipped! The English site of AmiAmi had one on sale at 50% off which was only about $113. Shipping from Japan is expensive, but at $160 total it’s still a steal for a Perfect Transform 1/60 scale Yamato. I’ve wanted the SV-51r for a while now. It’s very different from fighters in the VF line and I can’t wait for this piece to arrive.
Transformers Alternators Wheeljack by Hasbro
I love figures from the Binaltech/Alternator line. This line is now officially discontinued and there are figures I regret not buying when I had the chance. Alternator Wheeljack is one of these figures. Prices for Alternators are usually ridiculously high on Ebay, and for Binaltechs it’s even more so. But this weekend I was able to find one at a reasonable price. I won the auction at about $30 shipped for a brand new Alternator Wheeljack. Not a bad price at all considering what some other dealers ask for. I already have the Grimlock mold (in both Binaltech and Alternator) so I know how this transforms, but Wheeljack does have a different head mold and nice blue racing stripes that makes it worth adding him to my collection.
Transformers Alternity Cliffjumper by Takara
When I first started this blog, I made a post about whether or not I should buy Alternity Bumblebee and Cliffjumper. Well, this weekend I finally caved and saw a good auction for Cliffjumper on Ebay, so I went for it. I won the auction at $47 shipped. This was pretty much the pre-order price at many online toy sites, but I missed my chance and now most dealers are asking for him in the mid-50 dollar range. I’m glad I was able to find one without paying any markup. The only reason I hesitated on pre-ordering these guys is b/c Seibertron made a post about his chest and mid section being too bulky, resulting in a chubby figure. But then I saw this Youtube review by Peaugh that offered a very different opinion. So yeah, had to have him. Now I still need to buy Bumblebee.
I just paid for all these guys and I’m hoping they arrive in a week. I will be doing reviews of all of these… if I decide to open them. So stay tuned…
I’m off to see what else I need to buy… keep shopping my fellow TransFans… Transform and Roll Out!
TransFans rejoice! War For Cybertron has a new trailer! This one is more than 2 min long and contains narration by none other than the great Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime! Thanks to my buddy Gemini for bringing this to my attention.
I am absolutely lovin’ the designs of the WFC universe. This is without a doubt G1 inspired, with hints of War Within, Classics, and perhaps some Animated (minus all the cartooniness). Quality of Activision’s games have been kinda hit and miss recently, so I’m praying for TF:WFC to do well, which would maybe lead to a full line of TF figures and a CG major motion picture.
This reminds me, last summer at a party I met a girl that worked for Activision. She was a project manager for one of the Guitar Hero games. Damn I should’ve got her number. Not only was she single and cute, she could provide me with details of this game. Without going into details, she’s 3 degrees of separation from me, so I hoping to see her again…
But I’m getting off topic. The atmosphere of War For Cybertron is very much like that of War Within. The story is geared towards the mature TransFan. “The Autobots will never sacrifice freedom.” This line is giving me goose bumps. Go Optimus! Everything looks so good, I might even pre-order! If memory serves, I have not pre-ordered a game for over 10 years. That’s saying something.
One Shall Stand. One Shall Fall.
War For Cybertron will make TransFans of all.
Michael Bay knows not what TFs are about.
Until All Are One… Transform and Roll Out!
This is a post that’s long overdue. I found ROTF Bludgeon on Christmas Eve at Walmart. He’s still quite rare as of this writing, only 24 sightings on Seibertron and only 1 on the West Coast where I am. Very happy I was able to find him right before Xmas. I would have posted about this sooner. But things have been kinda hectic for me since Xmas and the commotion still hasn’t died down yet, so I haven’t got to opening him or writing about him. But check out these pics of him in the box.
This Bludgeon might officially be in the ROTF line, but his roots are most definitely G1. In G1 he was a Pretender. His shell consisted of Japanese samurai armor with the face of a human skull, and his alt mode was a tank when he was out of the shell. In the ROTF incarnation, the alt mode remains similar, but the robot mode resembles the G1 shell. Very cool indeed. His colors stay true to the G1 version. The master of Metallikato plays a fairly prominent role in many of the comic books, such as G1 US Marvel, War Within, and Stormbringer. It’s good to see his toy done right and receive the proper attention he deserves.
I will open him soon and do a proper review. Until then… Transform and Roll Out!
Happy New Year to everyone out there! Let this mark the end of 2009 as we look forward to a new age of peace and prosperity. Until All Are One!
Maybe 2009 was a great year for you and you are tearful to say goodbye, or maybe 2009 sucked and you can’t wait for 2010. Whatever the case, for today’s special New Year post, I’m going to give you reasons why 2010 will be a great year for TransFans.
The above image kicks ass and was done by Dream-Echo. Please check out his page on deviantart. It is very fitting for today’s special post.
Transformers: War for Cybertron
There ain’t that many Transformers video games out there, and what little there is usually sucks. However, looks like there will be a great one for all TransFans in 2010. Transformers: War for Cybertron by Activision is shaping up very nicely. Believe me when I say I have not been this excited about a game in a long time. I have 2 geek loves in this world: Tranformers and video games. If I was to compile a list of my video games, it is probably even longer than my TF List. To see these two genres combined like a Gestalt into one quality package of pure gaming bliss, I don’t even have the words. Tentative release date is April 2010. Check out the vid for yourself!
More ROTF Figures
You might think that we have seen all the ROTF figures by now, and you would be wrong. Hasbro really knows how to milk us loyal fans, but fortunately they saved some of the best in this line for 2010. Take a look at scans from this latest TF catalog that I got with ROTF Dirge.
Some of these figures are already released, but many are slated for 2010. I got Dirge and Bludgeon, and in 2010 I’m looking forward to Mindwipe, Lockdown, and Brawn. Hasbro should be paying me for this announcement.
Last of the TFA Figures
In 2009 we said farewell to TF Animated, but some figures are still due in 2010. Among these I’m looking forward to Rodimus Minor and Arcee.
I am lovin’ the Rodimus mold. His alt mode and his colors are so G1. The Arcee figure is also a must have. This is probably the most accurate Arcee figure ever produced in the history of TF. In it’s about damn time Arcee got a Cybertronian car for an alt mode as opposed to a motorcycle. Come to think of it, I’ve always wondered why the fembots transform into motorcycles all the time. Are their TransScanning technology more limited than the males? Or maybe they think the sleek and sexy lines of a bike more accurately reflect themselves?
New Figures from FansProject
FansProject looks to have a big year in 2010. I’ve already touched on TFX Warbot Defender (AKA Springer) in this previous post. And it looks like they have a Gestalt add-on for the Combaticons that will embarrass Hasbro for not making it in the first place. Check the FansProject website for pics an details.
Return of Classic/Universe figures
I don’t have anything solid on this, but word is Hasbro will bring back the Classic/Universe line in 2010. I’ve mentioned repeatedly that this is currently my favorite line of TFs, so to see these make a comback in 2010, I cannot be more thrilled. I’m hoping they complete the G1 cars of Season 1. This means Jazz, Wheeljack, and Trailbreaker. Rumor has it that Wheeljack is in the works, but that is purely speculative. Has it occurred to anyone else that, not counting repaints, the Classic/Universe line does not have any Leader Class figures? I think Omega Supreme would be a good choice to be the first Leader Class in this line. But whatever they decide to do, I’m glad 2010 will mark the return of this line.
I attended Botcon 2009, and had a blast! Botcon 2010 is set to be in Florida. I would love to go again, but l live on the West Coast so I’m gonna have to think it over. But TransFans in the area should definitely go. Heck, every TransFan should go, even if you live in, say, Mongolia. (No offense to any TransFan in Mongolia. From my blog stats I have not seen any one from Mongolia, so it seems like a safe place to pick on )
No Michael Bay in 2010
That in itself is good news. I can sleep soundly at night knowing that, in 2010, Michael Bay will not be making another atrocity that will further disrespect my beloved TFs. He might in 2011, but that’s for another post at least a year away.
So what do you think? Will 2010 be another banner year for TransFans? I have no doubts. Let us look forward to the future in 2010 as we continue to strengthen ourselves and our commitment to the TF movement. We as TransFans stand for justice and stability, but we do not fear change. We strive for peace and friendship that will unite us across all galaxies. We will rise above hatred, deceit, and evil in 2010, and this is the year we will once again defeat Megatron and his evil minions!
I am Hsunami Prime, and I send this message to all TransFans taking refuge among the stars… Transform and Roll Out!