Tag Archives: optimus prime

figureBOMB Update: Predators, Pacific Rim, and NYCC!

Hey Everybody!

Sorry for the relative quiet over the last few weeks, I have been quite the busy bee over at The Comixverse.

Since I last posted, NYCC has come and gone, I received my promotional samples from NECA, and I surpassed 200 followers on Instagram (click here to check out my feed)! I have really been focusing on improving my photography skills, and am really happy with the improvements I have made. Now I can actually use my own photos for reviews, and not have them look like they were taken with my VGA cellphone camera back in 2002.

So head to The Comixverse to check out my recent work, and as always thanks for stopping by. Just don’t ask to borrow any of my toys.

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Transformers: Age of Extinction Optimus Prime severely underwhelmed me at NYCC

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IDW announced an ongoing Transformers/G.I. Joe series at NYCC. Heck yeah!

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Gipsy Danger, while battle-weary, still managed to impress this OCD reviewer.

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The Nightstorm Predator looks like some sort of nightmarish Egyptian god, which is just fine by me.

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figureBOMB Review: Ultimate Beast Hunter Optimus Prime

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By Nick Saunders
8/13/13

Line: Transformers

Sub-Line: Prime: Beast Hunters

Figure: Ultimate Beast Hunter Optimus Prime

Manufacturer: Hasbro

Size Class: Supreme

MSRP: $59.99 (U.S.)

Availability: General

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This week for my birthday, my wife was cool enough to buy me the newly-released Transformers Prime: Ultimate Beast Hunter Optimus Prime figure. I had held off on buying the smaller Voyager Class ($22.00 pricepoint) figure back in January knowing this big dog was coming along later. Although after purchasing and evaluating the Ultimate version I may go back and pick up the Voyager up as well.

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This figure is a good size at over a foot tall in robot mode, with a stocky and intimidating build. It comes with a massive cleaver-type sword that is at least 6 inches long, a shield, and the built-in dragon cannon array on its back. It has 15 points of articulation, with joints at the shoulders (2-way), biceps, elbows, wrists (you just have to force them a bit- other reviewers are being wusses about this), hips (2-way), knees, and neck. It has a light up mechanism for the eyes and chest, and the array of five dragon cannons on the back fires missiles and is operated using a rather sophisticated and ingenious gatling mechanism. The only thing I find annoyingly missing is the ankle articulation, but as others have said it has a minimal effect on poseability and balance. I still very much enjoy this mode of the figure, and that sword is a monster.

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The transformation into truck mode is rather simplistic for a toy of this class; the manufacturer did not take full advantage of the size when engineering it. There are plenty of gaps in the vehicle when transformed, which only involves a twist of the waist, the arms being bent back over the legs, and the front wheels brought forward from within the lower legs of the robot. This is a toy you’re definitely going to want to display in robot form.

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My primary gripe with this figure involves the build quality- Hasbro continues their dismaying pattern of using softer, less durable plastic  throughout the figure. This trend is being driven by elevated petroleum prices, which cause plastics to inflate as well, forcing toy companies to degrade quality to keep costs down. That damn OPEC is ruining it for everyone. The wheels are snap-in as opposed to traditional solid pin mounted ones, and the flip-out front wheel assembly feels rather flimsy. Given how hollow this toy is in places, especially the lower legs, it ends up lacking the substantive feel that a $60 figure should have. 

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I may sound like I’m hating on this toy based on the above criticism, but I actually very much like it overall. I just miss the premium feel and heft that a Transformer this size would have had 5 or 10 years ago, and would have liked a better engineered transformation. Rating: B-.

Optimus vs. Rodimus: Battle of the Primes

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By Nick Saunders
8/2/13

One debate has consistently reigned supreme in the Transformers fandom and has raged for decades- which Prime is best? Is it Optimus Prime, the non-nonsense original leader of the Autobots, or his successor, the introspective and self-doubting “Chosen One” Rodimus Prime? Semi-truck or pimped-out Winnebago? Stripes or Flames? Smokestacks or Spoiler? Peter Cullen vs. Judd Nelson? Wait, who the heck is Judd Nelson?

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By now you surely comprehend the gravitas of this philosophical undertaking. For context, lets jump in our DeLoreans and travel back in time to the year 1986, when the USSR still thrived and Madonna still had human skin and not a semi-synthetic reptilian epidermis. Transformers were all over toy shelves and the cartoon series was hugely popular. The executives at Hasbro decided to cash in by producing and releasing a feature-length animated movie based on their smash hit toyline, and Transformers: The Movie was born. Hasbro used it as a vehicle to introduce new characters (read: toys), and throwing brand equity and character recognition aside, killed off 99.9% of the original cast in the process. During a fight with Megatron that Optimus was already winning, Rodimus (Hot Rod at the time) jumps in and is taken hostage, leading to Optimus getting killed. It was this moment in time that caused all the world’s unicorns and leprechauns to die en masse. Angels wept softly; the Earth split in twain. Children across America concurrently screamed in a cacphony of anguish. Not me though, I kept it gangsta.

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And by the way, apparently Transformers turn gray when they die, kind of like that rancid porterhouse I ate that one time at Sizzler.

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On his deathbed, Optimus reveals he possesses the Matrix of Leadership, a mystical device that contains the wisdom of all past Autobot leaders. He passes it on to Ultra Magnus, saying the Matrix will choose the next leader. Long story short, Magnus gets blown apart (or drawn and quartered, per urban legend) by the Decepticons, and at the end of the film it turns out that Hot Rod is the chosen successor. He takes possession of the Matrix, upgrades to Rodimus Prime, throws Galvatron (reincarnated Megatron- voiced by Leonard Nimoy aka Mr. Spock) into space, blows up Unicron (giant planet-eating mofracken), turns into an RV, showers, shaves, and bounces. Busy day, right?

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In the subsequent season of the television series, Rodimus agonizes constantly over his suitability as a leader, and is often seen being excessively emo and self-consiously drippy in conversations with Ultra Magnus. In the episode “Dark Awakening” where it appears Optimus is resurrected, the dude can’t give the Matrix back to him fast enough. A Quintesson-possessed Optimus is happy to oblige him and subsequently beats him like Rick James in search of his stash of PCP.

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At the end of the episode, Optimus overcomes the Quintesson mind control and sacrifices himself (again!) to save the Autobots. He then dies a fugly, hideous death (again!). Noticing a pattern here, true believers?

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The point I am trying to make here, at least as far as the Generation 1 cartoon and movie go, Rodimus Prime was much more content to follow as opposed to lead. Optimus never backed down, and was never afraid to throw down heavy, even in the face of death. Rodimus abdicated his responsibility the minute an opportunity arose. Sure, homeboy blew up Unicron, but without the Matrix could he have done it? Sucka please.  He is the Transformers equivalent to a nasty back-up dancer for En Vogue.

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However, as far as the toys go, I have much less venom to spew towards Rodimus. While I much prefer the various Optimus Prime toys, there is plenty of cool to spread around. In fact, as a kid Rodimus was the only Prime I owned for quite some time, so that toy holds a special place in my heart.
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My solitary toy-related gripe regarding Rodimus Prime would be that the arm of my $75 Masterpiece version decided to spontaneously shear off a few weeks ago while on display in my man cave (you’re dang right I have a man cave homie, and it reeks of win). Only after some deft handywork on my part, and a broken drillbit to the thumb, was I able to make it presentable again.

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Well that’s it for this week people. Until next time, keep your toys minty and your toejam linty.

Tales of a Thrifty Nerd: How to build a sweet collection without starving your family to death

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By Nick Saunders
7/17/13

I had an interesting conversation with my wife yesterday evening after leaving the local comic book store. I was explaining why I liked the Monogram Direct superhero bust banks they were selling so much; they are well-sculpted and (usually) well-painted, and cost about $10-15 each. A similar-sized polystone bust from Diamond Select or Bowen Designs would cost at least $80. Considering I don’t foresee myself leaving the world of grossly underpaid middle management any time soon, I’m going to go with the one that doesn’t force my family to rely on ramen and styrofoam peanuts for sustenance. My wife replied, “that’s why I like you- you find ways to have cool looking stuff without spending tons of money on it.”

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That inspired me to write this article about how to build an envy-inducing empire of swag without incurring your own personal microcosm of the U.S. national debt.

1. Avoid MISB/MIB Figures

When collecting vintage action figures, collecting MISB (Mint in Sealed Box) toys will break your pockets quickly. For a vintage Generation 1 Transformer, this is the difference between spending $50 for loose and $500 for MISB.

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Even for contemporary figures, this will save you money in cases where you have to resort to eBay for an item you can’t find locally. For Marvel Legends or DC Universe Classics, many sellers exclusively sell loose figures. Typically you will pay half the price, and the shipping will be cheaper as the seller can ship in a much smaller box.

Also, check out your local comic shop for loose figures; people often trade their collections in to be re-sold. This is especially useful when collecting vintage. Some great places to look in Phoenix are GI Joe vs. Transformers and Pop Culture Paradise. If you are at a reputable store, you will typically avoid the exhorbitant prices of eBay vintage sellers, be able to examine the item in person, and possibly have room to negotiate the price.

2. Collect Incomplete Figures

Does it really matter if your G1 Optimus Prime comes with the hose and gas nozzle? Will people who view your collection (besides the uber-elitist collectors that this article is clearly not directed at) really think less of it? The answer is a resounding NO. You will save an immense amount of money if you are willing to settle for a figure that might be missing a thing or two. Sometimes one missing accessory can bring the price of an toy down immensely. You can get a c8-c9 condition G1 Targetmaster without the transformable gun for less than a third of what you will pay for it being complete, and you still have the gorgeous figure itself to display on your shelf. 

Heck I just picked up a slightly-yellowed loose G1 Slugslinger this past weekend at GI Joe vs. Transformers for a cool $15. The one in the case with less wear and the Targetmaster gun was about $90 (still a good price but not in my budget anymore). If needed he can always borrow an extra gat from one of his homies if things get a little too real with the Autobots up on my toy shelf.
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3. Don’t Be Afraid to do Some Reconditioning

Personally, I have never been into collecting as if it was an investment. I want a collection that looks impressive and gives me enjoyment, but resale value is the least of my concerns. One way I have saved a great deal of money is by buying vintage items that need a little bit of TLC to get them back to presentable condition. For Transformers, eBay is littered with auctions of dirt-cheap loose G1 figures that have moderate cosmetic wear that is easily remedied. While not always the case, usually a thorough cleaning, replacement of some rusty screws, and some freshly applied Reprolabels (amazing reproductions of original G1 Transformer sticker sheets) gives you a toy that looks almost new.

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Of course, the older the Transformer is, the more loose accessories are missing, so don’t go buying that gnarly looking G1 Starscream fuselage with zero accessories and the nosecone chewed off and think you will make it look any more appealing than the polished turd that it is.

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The above methods (sans the Reprolabels of course) also can be applied to loose moderately worn MOTU (He-Man) figures, Thundercats, etc. Especially if you are not afraid to break out some model paint and do some touch-ups, you can bring that beat up old Skeletor back to life to wreak havoc on the peace-loving citizens of Eternia.

4. Re-issue is NOT a Dirty Word

In the early 2000’s, toy companies began to re-release vintage figures from the 1980’s. Mattel re-released several MOTU figures during this time, and Hasbro and Takara began re-releasing the original Generation 1 Transformers as well. They had uncovered the original molds from the 1980’s and put them back into production. All but the most discriminating collectors jumped at the chance to buy their favorite Autobot or Decepticon for half of what the original 1980’s editions were going for online. Not only were they brand new and completely immaculate, they came with all of their accessories and a fresh label sheet to apply to the toy. Call me weird, but one of my favorite things to do as a kid was to apply the labels to a new Transformer. Even on the secondary market, you will be able to purchase a re-issue version of a vintage toy for less than the original run. However, coversely you must be wary of vendors and eBay sellers marketing re-issue items as originals, as the differences are often only noticable to an expert eye.
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At the end of the day if you follow these tips, while you may not bankroll your future child’s college fund with the purchases you have made, what you will have is an awesome and unique collection to display proudly. And money for toilet paper.

Tossing up Bricks: My sick obsession with Kre-O Transformers

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By Nick Saunders
7/14/13
 
I never would have imagined that a toy line hybridization of Lego and Transformers would be as enjoyable to me as collecting actual Transformers themselves, but I’ve been hooked on these interlocking pieces of plastic crack for over two years. However, this year’s sparce tradeshow reveals and current lack of big-box retail engagement indicate the line is approaching its twilight. Not the porcelain-toned, histrionic vampire kind of Twilight, but equally dismaying and disturbing nonetheless.

Rival toy companies have been trying to integrate Lego’s designs into their product catalogues ever since the final Lego design patent expired in 1989. For those that have been collecting Transformers for awhile, you will recall that Kre-O is not Hasbro’s first attempt at translating the Lego concept to their toy properties. In 2003 Hasbro released a line called Built to Rule, which were building block sets based on Transformers: Armada and G.I. Joe. These grotesque abominations were utterly laughable in their heavy-handed disregard for design, and staggering ugliness proportionate to seeing Bea Arthur naked. As can be imagined, the line was a catastrophic failure and was cancelled within a year. Shaking in their boots Lego was not. It is unfortunate though, because the cancelled sets planned for 2004 were much nicer looking by comparison.

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Based on the misersble failure that was BTR, I was actually surprised that Hasbro released Kre-O at all.  Yet in the Fall of 2011 Hasbro released the line in retail stores nationwide. I was initially indifferent, but at the same time took immediate notice to how much better the build design was than the BTR line. I also found it intriguing that the larger sets blended design elements from the original Transformers toys and their live-action movie counterparts.

For Christmas in 2011, my wife bought me the large Bumblebee set as a surprise. The minute I sat down and built the robot mode (design constraints do not allow these to transform), I was completely hooked. I had not built a Lego set since I was 13 years old, and had completely forgotten how enjoyable it was. I immediately went out and bought more sets, twitching and scratching like an addict the whole way to the store.

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The best part of these building sets is the potential for customization. If I didn’t like an aspect of a build from the instruction book, I simply rebuilt it to fit my liking. For some sets, this involved some minor tweaks (Sentinel Prime, Starscream, Sideswipe, large Optimus), and others complete rebuilds (Megatron, Jazz, basic Optimus, Prowl). To me these sets were the most fun of all, the creative freedom of restructuring the robots was in some ways therapeutic for me. Of course a few sets were amazing without any tweaks at all. There were a couple of duds too, I’m looking straight at your ugly arse, Stealth Bumblebee. No amount of rebuilding made that turd tolerable.

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It would appear that based on the Botcon displays I browsed last month, no new Transformers Kre-O sets are forthcoming outside of a couple more Micro Changer combiner sets. Also, the current TF Kre-O assortment has all but disappeared outside of Toys R Us. Combine this with the impending release of the new Construct Bots line (think Bionicle for Transformers), and the writing is on the wall- finger painted by a rebellious toddler with authority issues. Kre-O is being put out to pasture.

So why is there such minimal retail support for the line? I have some theories. While the initial Kre-O assortments did go clearance at most major retailers, it wasn’t until almost a year after their initial release, which is not an abnormal occurence for any successful toy line. The full TF Battle for Energon assortment was released soon thereafter in all major retailers, indicating the demand was still strong and retail partners still engaged. I believe Kre-O cried its death knell after the horrendous performance of the Battleship line, which was released to cooincide with the equally horrendously performing film. Ironically, this film was also the death knell for the once promising career of Taylor Kitsch, but I digress. The sets themselves were appealing enough, but being tied to a dead movie concept kept sales down. They languished on shelves and were ultimately clearanced by Fall of 2012.

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My belief is that this dismal failure unjustly soured retailers on the Kre-O brand as a whole, as evidenced by the subsequent Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Star Trek assortments being picked up solely by Toys R Us. Time will tell whether the line is truly winding up, or possibly just going on hiatus.

In the meantime, bring on the Construct Bots!

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