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.

 

Marauder “Task Force” First Shot Tooling Samples

Some exciting updates from the world of the Marauder “Gun Runners” Task Force! It doesn’t seem like too long ago that we were all fired up for the Task Force Kickstarter, sending it to a raging success, and now we get our first images of “First Shot” tooling samples courtesy of the Marauder Facebook Page.

Gotta tell you, these things look sharp. Great articulation, lots of detail, and already capable of some impressive poses.

If you missed out on the Kickstarter, don’t worry, these should be available directly in the Marauder “Gun Runner” Store, but I for one can’t wait to get it in my mailbox!  Let’s not forget to throw a bunch of credit to Boss Fight Studio for crafting such a fantastic looking figure.  Great design and sculpting by the folks over there!

Check out the images below, and keep checking Marauder on Facebook for the latest updates.

Larger images of the color mock ups for Marauder “Task Force” Julie and Logan

Last week, the folks from Marauder posted some fantastic color mock up images from their Logan and Julie “stretch goal” figures, remarking that they should be pretty close to what the final samples look like.

Well, the illustrator of those images, Stephan reached out to me with larger versions of the two mock ups!  Check them out below, and be sure to hit up Fundafull if you want to keep the pre-order spirit alive for the Marauder Task Force!

Marauder Task Force Pre-Order extended through Fundafull

Were you watching from the wings as the Marauder Task Force Kickstarter surged to over $250K?  Were you a little tight on cash and disappointed that you couldn’t participate?  Or did you participate and just decide you want to grow your pledge and pre-orders a bit?

Well, here’s your chance!

The Marauder “Task Force” Pre-Order has been extended through Fundafull!  Anyone who didn’t have a chance to pledge, or perhaps wants to increase their pledge, has until June 1st to make it happen.  Keep in mind, any of the Kickstarter exclusives remain Kickstarter exclusives, but here is a great chance to make sure you get everything you wanted out of the initial offering.  Along with this, Marauder has also revealed some fan art for the red deco Task Force member, and mentions that it’s very close to what they are proposing!  Check out the full details after the jump.

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Last minute Marauder “Task Force” backers – Maybe this will help

GeneralsJoes reader and Marauder “Task Force” enthusiast Ben sent along a spreadsheet to help calculate the best configuration for your pledge based on what figures you’re looking for and in what quantities.  Sorry I’m so late getting this posted, but I just barely got to my email again.

The Excel Spreadsheet is hosted right here, and the instructions for using it are below.  Use it wisely, and let’s get this thing through the roof!  We’re SO CLOSE to Logan level.  I can smell that red Command-Ops unit!

Instructions for the Task Force Spreadsheet (Download it here)

Everything on the left in WHITE is meant to be changed, anything with a color background has formulas, they will auto-update (The Julie/white figure section is white, but it also obviously has formulas) so don’t change any of those.

You can change the “required” to whatever comes with the level you’re on, and then change the “choice” to whatever your choices are. So if you’re at the level where you get 2 free of each goal, change those first (and adjust your required figures of the first three). Then you can change the numbers in the “choice” column and the gear will update on the right.

Note the stretch figures are separate from the accessory stretch goals for clarity.

You can also put your total dollars spent in the white box on the bottom left and it will update the per fig cost below. One box is only figures, the other is if you count figures and stretch sets separately.

I have it set up for the 50 fig level.

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