Toy Review: Combiner Wars Legends class Shockwave

Remember back in January when we ran our Bruticus Week feature? Well, here’s Bruticus Week Redux, because, yes, it’s taken this long for us to acquire the final piece of that particular Combaticon puzzle: Bruticus’s gun, who comes in the form of a Legends class Shockwave. This dinky Decepticon has proven frustratingly tricky to source and, much as we wanted him, we weren’t prepared to pay the ridiculous scalper prices for which we’d seen him going. So we had a bit of wait to find him for a reasonable rate. Still, here we go at last: Bruticus Week Day 8: the Day Everyone Got Shot.

Looking down the barrel of a gun / Son of a gun, son of a bitch / Getting paid, getting rich

Pew! Pew!

Was he worth the wait? The only logical choice is to read on and see…

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Guilty Or Innocent? Easter Craft Eggs into Quintessons…

Happy Easter: let’s catch up with a little modelling project that I’d planned to have finished for Easter, but sadly real life… and a Steam Sale… intervened.

I (AddAltModeB) picked up some “Easter Craft Eggs” from my local crafting shop a while back. AddAltModeR asked my what Earthly purpose I could have for acrylic plastic eggs, and I replied that she’d haev to wait and see. After only a moment’s thought, she said that I must be modelling the Quintesson Judges from Transformers: The Movie… she knows me so well.

"Quick stretch out your tentacles to look big, maybe we'll scare the Decepticon away!"

Galvatron meets some Quintessons, from The Transformers, episode 69.

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Toy Review: Combiner Wars Blackjack

Blackjack!

Blackjack!

Tiny figure, but not a tiny review: The newest addition to our collection of toy robots is Combiner Wars Blackjack. Not a recent figure, but it appears that the UK has missed out on this little chap, and only had his retool as Rodimus. Thanks to internet shopping, I was able to pick him up despite never having seen him at retail.

Now, I love the name Blackjack for a Decepticon thug: I suspect he’s not named after the card-game: the Oxford English Dictionary defines a blackjack as a flexible lead-filled truncheon, and gives the following delightful example sentences:

Firehoses were turned on and soon three thousand picketers, thugs, and police rumbled in the streets with clubs, blackjacks, wrenches, chains, and tear gas.
Bats, clubs, sticks, blackjacks, Brazilian fighting rods, rocks, and Japanese club sticks are just a few of the more favored tools used in beating people to a pulp.

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Toy Review: Combiner Wars Leader Class Starscream

Hello my name is AddAltModeR  and I am a Starscreamaholic. The backstabbing Seeker is probably my single favourite Transformers character. I love the design of the Seekers in general and, having done a postgraduate degree in Renaissance Literature, I really have been primed to appreciate the theatrical — nay, positively Shakespearean — extent of his villainy. Here’s a character who can truly be relied upon to betray you; putting the “deception” into Decepticon time after time after time. Starscream toys are my weakness, and I have more versions of him in the plastic than any other character. In that respect, I guess I’m a bit like Megatron: I know full well that Screamer is bad for me but I just can’t resist keeping him around!

Coronation, Starscream? This is bad comedy.

Coronation, Starscream? This is bad comedy.

Hasbro’s new Leader Class Starscream has just been released as part of the Combiner Wars line although – like other Leader class figures we’ve picked up, such as Megatron and Ultra Magnus — he’s a standalone toy who doesn’t participate in the combining gimmick. Originally built for the Generations line as Jetfire (complete with some of the nastiest red metallised plastic weapons I’ve seen), the mold was remodelled for Combiner Wars and first released as Thundercracker. I was pretty sold on Thundercracker after reading FigureFan Zero’s great review of him; and seeing the blue Seeker in the plastic at Auto Assembly only confirmed those positive first impressions. It’s quite refreshing that Hasbro released Thundercracker first this time, giving the most intelligent Seeker a bit of love and some time in the spotlight.  But a red and grey recolour was inevitable and fangirl that I am, I decided to resist the temptation of Thundercracker and wait for another Starscream to add to my collection.  Was he worth the wait? Read on and see…

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Toy Review: Combiner Wars Megatron

All Hail Megatron! Maybe it’s a shocking confession, but we didn’t actually have a Megatron in our collection before (other than the teeny one that “hatched” out of a Kinder Egg). Since we’ve only been buying Transformers (again) for the last couple of years, there hadn’t been a Megatron released during this time who really appealed. We wanted a large Megsy, a figure with some gravitas, the sort who nobody – except probably Wheeljack – would dare to call “Megsy.” But most of the more recent toys of this iconic Decepticon have been smaller sized ones, and we weren’t about to the pay the silly prices for which some of the older, larger figures now sell. So I was pretty excited when I heard a new Leader class Megatron was on the way as part of the Generations Combiner Wars line. We pre-ordered this big guy way back in January, but I only just got my hands on him last week. His ship date just kept getting put back and put back. But finally here he is!

A Leader Class Decepticon Leader

A Leader Class Decepticon Leader

Was he worth the wait? Let’s have a closer look shall we?

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Starscream Saturday!

If you were only allowed to keep and collect one single character from Transformers who would it be?

B got quite distressed when I asked him that question and said he couldn’t bear to think about it, but eventually he conceded if that if he had to go all Highlander and there really could be only one he would pick Ultra Magnus. B is a big Ultra Magnus fan. Me? I’d choose Starscream. At this point you’d be forgiven for wondering how the two of us have managed to remain happily married for almost 7 years when our world views are clearly a little disparate…. Let’s just say that opposites attract and that taste in transforming robots thankfully doesn’t map neatly onto real world behavioural traits.

Anyway, the nice thing about Transformers is how un-Highlander the franchise is. Even limiting things to just one character doesn’t mean you have to have just one figure or even one uniform look. One of the things I like about Starscream is that he’s had quite a few different looks in the various shows, comics and game lines but whether blocky or sleek he’s always unmistakably himself.

Team Scream

Team Scream: my Starscream collection

I don’t have a huge Starscream collection by any means, but he is the single character of whom I have the most different figures, and I just added a new one (new to me, but actually an older toy) Voyager Transformers Animated Starscream, so this seems like a good excuse to officially name this #StarscreamSaturday and talk a little about the figures I have got.

So read on for Screamery goodness…. or villainy, really, I guess. Which is like the opposite of goodness.

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Let’s talk about: Annoying Robots!

So, you don’t need to have read many of the posts we publish here on AddAltMode to get the impression that in this little corner of the internet robots are generally regarded a pretty favourably. But although robots are frequently awesome, it is a truth universally acknowledged that when robots aren’t awesome they’re often incredibly, infuriatingly, even offensively annoying!

So what makes for an annoying robot? Well, there are tons of listicles already out there along the lines of “The Top Ten most annoying robots in popular culture” so I’m not going to churn out another of those. But if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the various lists on this topic, it’s that there’s surprisingly little overlap between them. Annoyingness, it seems, can be quite a subjective quality. So today I’m going to look at a few robots who are often accused of being annoying. I’ll be asking what they’ve done to deserve that label and whether they really deserve it.

Bring forward the accused! These bots are on trial accused of being too annoying. Let the jury consider the evidence and decide their verdict.

Stock photo by  creationc from http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1409592

Health warning! If you’re easily wound up you may wish to stop reading now. While there are a few bots out there I may defend from over-harsh judgments, this post contains at least two characters for whom the label “annoying” doesn’t begin to cover it – although I could do with a label of some sort to stick over their robot mouths!

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Geek Fashion! My Kind of Dress: Vintage Fabric Transformers Sun Dress

So, lately there’s been a whole lot of nonsense and hype on social media about #TheDress, but there’s only one dress that has managed to excite me. And forget any rubbish about trying to decide if it’s white and gold or blue and black, this one is definitely yellow and blue and it’s definitely covered in Autobots and Decepticons! Win!

Photo by Mary Jane's originals, used with permission

Transformers dress by Mary Jane’s Originals

Best of all, this dress was made especially for me by Geek Seamstress Extraordinaire Mary-Jane, of Mary-Jane’s Originals.

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Mech Music: 5 Albums for Robot Lovers

Music and robots are two great tastes that go well together – right? Just ask Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, otherwise known as our funkiest robot overlords, Daft Punk. But why is this? Music is simultaneously a powerful form of individual self-expression and a staple of shared, communal experience so it makes sense that songs have always been a way to explore and to express what it means to be human. Likewise, robots. From android butlers to crazed killbots, robots provide an element of distance that we can use to reflect on ourselves: what makes robots different from us and what does it say about us that the robots we’ve built behave the way they do? And think about the clanking, whirring and beeping sounds typically associated with mechanical invention, you’ve got yourself some great beats and effects right there.  Not to mention the fact that robots simply rock.

Screencap from Transformers Animated "Human Error Prt 2

Rocktimus Prime: Screencap from Transformers Animated “Human Error Part 2”

So it’s hardly surprising that there have been a lot of robot themed songs and albums released over the years, from film and game soundtracks to full robo-rock operas.  For a discussion of some of the real classic proponents, like Kraftwerk, check out Robert Bidders’ interesting post Your Petrochemical Arms: A Brief History of Cyborgs, Superhumans and Robots in Pop Music.  The approach I’m going to take here is a bit less scholarly.  Basically, it’s just a list of robot themed full albums – covering quite a range of musical genres – that I really enjoy. Perhaps you will too. Check ’em out…

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Toy Review: Generations Skullgrin (Hasbro 2010)

Way back in the mists of time (1988), when Marvel Comics produced a merch comic for Transformers, they needed to create a story line for the Pretenders – transforming robots hidden in “organic” shells, disguising their robotic nature within a meat-suit. Mostly, the Autobots wore human-looking shells, and the Decepticons wore “strange and terrifyingfurry covention-goer alien forms. (I suspect Longtooth (a bizarre walrus/furry) and Stranglehold (a shirtless”wrestler” dude) might have swapped factions somewhere in the design process.)

Scorponok devises the Pretenders - because the Autobots will never realise they're under attack when charged by a group of organic monsters brandishing guns and swords.

Scorponok devises the Pretenders – because the Autobots will never realise they’re under attack when charged by a group of organic monsters brandishing guns and swords. Image from The Transformers (Marvel US) #40, “Pretender to the Throne!” (lifted shamelessly from tfwiki.net)

Whilst shilling the Pretender toys advancing the plot, they devised a plotline starring one Decepticon Pretender who pretended to be an organic, non-transforming alien – and ended up a Hollywood career in monster movies – Skullgrin. Continue reading