Transformers: Combiner Wars Drag Strip

Unlike his Stunticon brothers, Drag Strip was actually a part of Wave 1 of the Combiner War deluxe figures, standing out like a yellow and magenta sore thumb among the planes and helicopters that made up most of Superion.  He was pretty out of place sitting there as an oddly colored right arm on my Autobot gestalt, but now that Wave 2 has hit my display shelves, all is right with the world.

Check out the full review below.

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Masters of the Universe Classics Oo-lar the “Jungle He-Man”

In 1982, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe took over the lives of American children, mostly due to the Filmation cartoon, which introduced the world of Eternia to kids everywhere.  I had become interested in He-Man before I saw the series, largely due to the amazing mini comics that appeared in each action figure package.  Within the pages of those first few mini comics, there was no Prince Adam, there was just He-Man, a savage member of a barbarian tribe hand-chosen to wear the mantle of the most powerful man in the universe.

Click below to read the entire review…

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Transformers: Combiner Wars Powerglide

Damn you, Combiner Wars!

When it comes to Transformers, the Deluxe scale figures are my sweet spot. I buy Voyager from time to time, though they’re getting expensive. I only buy Leader very rarely… Deluxes are really what interests me. Complex and interesting enough to be fun, but not outrageously expensive. The Legends figures always seemed far too simplified and uninteresting.

Then there were the Combiner Wars.

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Transformers: Combiner Wars Megatron

I have no idea what the deal is with Megatron.

Here he is… the top bad guy in the Decepticon armada, and one of the most fearsome villains in pop culture history. But Hasbro just never seemed to be able to get how to make him cool in toy form.

His original Walther P38 in 1984 obviously defined the look and feel for the evil leader of the Decepticons, but it was really the animated series and comic that took his design aesthetics and made them a bit more robust.

Hasbro has revisited Megatron dozens of times over the years and never seemed to be able to capture the look of that classic villain. Of course I think it’s accepted that they can’t use a realistic pistol as his alt mode, a fact that should surprise and disturb no one by now…so why not something else?

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Well, they finally did it. They looked past the “pistol problem” and went into Megatron’s past… his second Generation past, to be specific, where he appeared as a tank. Using the tank as his alt mode, and some striking colors and real working rubber treads, Hasbro managed to do multiple homages at once and give us a pretty great looking offensive vehicle, and a robot mode that is amazingly reminiscent of the familiar Megatron we all know and love.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some good Megatrons along the way… I have about 4 – 5 Beast Wars, Animated, and Prime versions that I absolutely love. But they weren’t the classic Megatron… that G1 iconic look of the Decepticon overlord. Well, now that’s changed.

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I’ve read some complaints about the figure, mostly with his leg poseability, and yeah, I can see some of those issues. His range of motion in his legs could be a bit better, but at this point, just looking at him on the shelf, I love this figure so much. This is the first time I’ve dropped $40+ on a Transformers figure in a very, very long time, and I have not a single ounce of buyer’s remorse. He is awesome.

I will say the articulation is a little…  funky?  Is that the right term?  The joints feel somewhat springy, and don’t hold especially well.  He’s got enough articulation to make him poseable, but when he’s posed, he’s forced to stand at somewhat awkward angles.  He has ball joint hips, shoulders, and neck, with some level of elbow joints and knees, though you do occasionally have to shift around his fusion cannon to get him to move how you want him to move (yes, it’s permanently attached).

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The perfect combination of silver and black really brings the evil Decepticon to life in all the right ways. That long, cylindrical torso shape, those blocky arms, and slender black legs connect all the right dots to bring us that classic G1 Megatron many of us have been waiting for. I do wish that maybe his fusion cannon was a bit better and not so restrictive, but for a figure I’ve been waiting 30 years for, it’s tough to pick nits.

As a leader toy, I anticipated some complex transformation steps, but like the other Combiner Wars toys I’ve bought, it was relatively straight forward and simple to get from one mode to the other. The tank feels a bit floppy and not quite as “put together” as some other vehicles I’ve seen from the Transformers line, but he looks good and is functional enough to work.

The small sticker sheet that Megatron comes with is a neat touch, and based on IDW continuity, you can even make him an Autobot if you so choose.  I don’t so choose, but more power to those who want to, it’s nice that Hasbro gave that as an option.

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I never thought I’d ever say this, but now Hasbro needs to make another Optimus Prime that can stand toe-to-toe… this hulking Megs needs a sparring partner.

Check out my video review of Combiner Wars Megatron below… with some assistance from my 5 year old…

Transformers: Combiner Wars Blackjack

Yeah, I don’t even know who the heck Blackjack is (hint – it’s this guy), but once I started building Menasor I decided he looked incomplete enough that I needed to finish him off… so dammit Hasbro your “Combiner Wars” strategy just hooked me in.

Blackjack is a Legends scale Decepticon, a scale that doesn’t normally appeal to me, as I prefer to stick with Deluxe and above. In this case, though, I took the plunge, and I was exceptionally surprised by how much I love this toy.

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He looks really good in car mode, and even though he’ll be a little smaller than his Stunticon brothers he still blends in pretty well. His transformation is quick and easy, and the figure is really poseable, a fact that is a deal breaker to me with Transformers. One of the reasons I never really dove in head first to Transformers as a kid was that the stupid robots could barely move. I don’t have to worry about that these days (at least not much).

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Ball joints are prevalent everywhere on this figure, and he looks really great in all the various poses.  Shoulders are ball joints, hips are ball joints, neck is a ball joint, his flexibility is remarkable, and fun for a small guy like this.  There are great knee and elbow joints as well, only adding to his poseability.

But I got this toy for pretty much a singular purpose… he had to fit that vacant chest cavity on Menasor, and unfortunately he very nearly fails to do that single task. Because of the way the legs click together, that second hole is loose enough that Blackjack doesn’t stay real well where I want him to stay. Thanks to the immortal advice of my friend (and former Hasbro designer) Matt, I took some thin paper and filled the holes, then pressed Blackjack down onto the pegs, and he stays much better that way. Better enough that I’m happy with the way Menasor looks (even though he does basically just look like a full car is strapped to his chest) and don’t feel like Blackjack is going to come springing off at a moment’s notice.

I bought Blackjack for a very specific reason, and even though that reason needed a little encouragement, I found myself pretty happy with the figure over all. Both modes are a lot of fun, straight forward transformation, and just a great looking toy to boot.

Transformers: Combiner Wars Motormaster

I go through phases when it comes to my love affair with Transformers, and typically those phases follow along the track of a particular animated series. This started in the 90s with Beast Wars, then resumed with Transformers: Animated, then Transformers: Prime.

Interestingly, however, is that while I am once again aggressively buying retail Transformers, it’s not because of Robots in Disguise now, it’s because of Combiner Wars. No, there’s no cartoon to draw me into that universe, but I’ve always loved Combiners, and yes, I know Hasbro has done plenty of them in the past, but they’ve always seemed somewhat hacked together and an afterthought. I thought that maybe, just maybe, an entire line devoted to the combiner concept might get some of the ideas right.

Oh yeah. They did.

I hesitated to pick up Skydive a couple of weeks ago, using a gift card left over from Christmas, and I was immediately hooked. It was a great figure with a pretty basic transformation that functioned really well in both modes. Considering Superion was one of the only combiners I actually owned every piece of in my childhood, this was a no-brainer.

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But I just couldn’t leave Drag Strip on the pegs, and so once I got Drag Strip, I knew I’d get all the Stunticons, too, which was okay, because everyone knows that a Superion needs a Menasor. It’s just how it’s done.

I haven’t gotten my hands on any limbs beyond Drag Strip yet, but I picked up a Motormaster from Amazon and I have to say, he’s pretty awesome. I still use Classics Optimus Prime as my default Prime, so I felt no need to pick up the new Combiner Wars version. As such, Motormaster is a brand new experience for me, and even though he doesn’t very strongly resemble the full semi truck of the old days, he’s a great, fun toy nonetheless. He has his familiar new head, and just the right amount of scattered tooling changes to make him feel new, even if you have Optimus. Like the other Combiner Wars figures, his transformation isn’t overly complex, a fact that I love. I don’t want to have to have an engineering degree just to play with my toys.

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I love this figure in truck form and in robot form, and even though I only have one of his limbs, he looks good so far in Menasor torso mode, too.

Now, one thing I didn’t realize is that Menasor would look horrifically incomplete without Blackjack, leaving a large cavity in his chest, which didn’t look entirely right to me. But that will be the subject of a different review.

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I don’t always buy Transformers, so when I do, it’s because Hasbro is doing something right…normally it’s the aesthetics of the animation models that hook me, but this time it’s straight up awesome looking toys that did it, and I’m glad for it.

Menasor looks woefully incomplete and Motormaster stands somewhat alone at the moment, so I’ll be eagerly anticipating the other Stunticons to arrive.

Masters of the Universe Classics King Hiss

Like Snake Armor He-Man himself, this updated version of the Snake Men leader, King Hiss became a physical representation of the lurking evil in Eternia throughout the sinister second season of the 200x animated series.

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I’m uninitiated enough with Masters of the Universe that I was relatively unfamiliar with King Hiss as a character until I had seen him on the 200x animated series around ten years ago. Because of this, that was how I identified with the character, as the ancient king of snake people, almost Egyptian in nature, with broad shoulders, a long, angular face, and vicious clawed feet. I didn’t have any real attachment to the vintage version, so I skipped right over it, even as it was pretty readily accessible on the MattyCollector store.

But when I saw the two pack, I knew I wanted it. This was the King Hiss that I was familiar with, and even if this particular version of the figure couldn’t morph into a body of snakes, this was still the one I wanted.

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Once I got him in hand, I was not disappointed. Mattel uses a soft armor over his torso to bulk him up and give him the unique texture of his snakified skin, with a fantastic combination of greens for the uniform and pale, scaley flesh for his exposed skin. This looks like a horrid mutation of a man, a thin peel of skin just barely covering the slithering serpents underneath, which is an almost flawless representation of how he was portrayed in the MYP animated series. The uniform is spot on, right down to his sculpted bare feet with elongated claw toenails. The gold metallic headress and bracers are a very nice contrast to the green base color and red cloth around his waist, and I find myself really enjoying the way the colors all play off of each other.

The sculpting takes the animated look and transfers it to plastic exceptionally well, all the while maintaining that squat, familiar Masters of the Universe aesthetic. It’s pretty amazing.

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King Hiss comes with the shield and snake staff (but no alternate snake body) and looks just as threatening and imposing as he did in the animated series. A great foil for He-Man, and part of a great representation of the 200x series in a single two pack. As we stand on the precipice of the first full blown 200x mini subscription, it seems appropriate that this two-pack kicks off the spring buying season.

Masters of the Universe Classics Snake Armor He-Man

As we are halfway through the subscription period for the new MattyCollector 200x mini subscription, it makes sense to focus strongly on a figure that fully represented the 200x era hero in the second season of the early 2000’s animated series.

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Back in the early 80s I was a huge Masters of the Universe fan. Like, really huge. Before I ever bought my first G.I. Joe figure, I had Skeletor, Beast Man, He-Man, and Stratos, and set them up in battle scenes on my dresser next to my bed. Many a night I lay in bed staring up at those awesome creatures as I drifted off to sleep.

My love affair with He-Man faded as those 4″ army men came into vogue and I realized that there was such a thing as articulation with action figures, and my G.I. Joe’s could actually DO a lot more than the defenders of Eternia. As such, my He-Man fascination dwindled while my G.I. Joe obsession only grew.

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I have recently become nearly infatuated with Masters of the Universe again, as they’ve become proficient at perfectly infusing the classic style with modern articulation. But there was one other time that I grew re-attached to Masters of the Universe as well, and that was in the early 2000’s. Those MYP 200x animated episodes re-ignited a spark in me, and in fact managed to flare that spark far brighter than the original Filmation series did. For every eye roll that Filmation series solicited from my 8 year old head, the new MYP series brought a wide smile to my face. It captured a lot of the classic fun, but made the world much larger and more engaging, as well as more serious.

So, I’ll admit, every time a 200x themed Masters of the Universe Classics figure emerged, my eyes twinkled, but I didn’t bite, mostly because I’ve never been a subscriber, and it always seemed impossible to get the figures I wanted to get. But when I saw the Snake Armor He-Man and King Hiss figures that made up the majority of Season 2 of that animated series, I decided I had to try.

I’m glad I did.

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Snake Armor He-Man is a perfect example of how well Mattel is doing with their Classics line. They’re able to pull from all these different styles (Mattel, Filmation, She-Ra, New Adventures, and MYP) and somehow infuse them all with similar design aesthetics, so they can all work within the same universe. Just looking at the design of the figure, with the boulder-sized shoulder pad, the chain metal arm and those crazy boots have so little in common with the more traditional look and feel of the 80’s stuff, but somehow Mattel is able to perfectly integrate it.

There is a wealth of newly tooled parts in this figure, perfectly accentuating the best and most outlandish parts of the animated design. His trademark spiked hair almost immediately draws you back in time ten years, and the crisp paint applications mirror the look of his armor excellently. From the leather straps replacing the “furry shorts” to the bulky, layered armor, this is a very different look from the He-Man that we’re all familiar with, but it manages to blend perfectly with the rest of the Classics collection.

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He doesn’t come with much in the way of accessories, with the trademark 200x power sword and the snake-grabbing claw that slides into the launcher on his right arm. It’s not much, but both accessories are pretty well done, and fit the figure quite well.

Until I recently re-watched all of the 200x series, I’d forgotten just how much He-Man wore this particular suit of armor in the second season, and now I’m glad I have him represented on my shelf. It’s a striking figure that manages to both stand apart and blend with the rest of the Classics line in a great way.

Masters of the Universe Classics “Ninjor” Ninja Warrior

As a kid, my interest in Masters of the Universe was fading as my interest in G.I. Joe was surging forward into the formative years of a Real American Hero. However, I have a distinct memory of purchasing Ninjor at Rich’s Department Store in West Lebanon, NH.

For that reason, I was immediately determined to purchase his Classics version from the MattyCollector store.

Click the Continue Reading to read my full review.

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Production paint samples revealed for Marauder “Task Force”

It seems like so long ago that the Marauder “Task Force” Kickstarter was breaking through $200,000 and unlocking some crazy stretch goals in those last 24 hours. It all went by in a blur, as have the several months since that event. Well, for the first time ever we now have a good shot of the production level paint scheme for this great looking figures! These samples should be exactly how the final versions look when we all get them in our grubby little hands by the end of the year.

One word: IMPRESSIVE.

Check out the image below, and keep checking Marauder “Gun Runners” on Facebook for the latest info. Expect some nice 360 degree videos of these samples to be shown soon!

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EDIT – You know, I was just going to report the story and move on…  but I just can’t.

These figures look incredible.  Absolutely incredible.  Boss Fight Studio didn’t just hit a home run, they nailed an extra-inning game winning grand slam.  These are straight-up spectacular.

Huge props to Kevin Watts and Ruben as well who hand-painted the original samples.  Everything about this project is ringing true for me, and I am absolutely giddy to get some of these in my hands.  Awesome stuff.