Monday, May 20, 2013

Transformer Collecting to the Maximus

It's been over 25 years since Fortress Maximus was originally released by Hasbro in the US. He was a 2-foot tall monster of a figure, towering over anything else that had been released to that point (or since). I remember getting his opposite number, Scorpinok, for Christmas that year, which was an amazing toy as well. But the closest I was ever able to get to Fort Max was in photos in magazines, and later online. I never managed to see one of these in person. Until last week!

Getting Fortress Maximus was usually a very expensive ordeal, especially if you wanted a complete figure with all the original parts. The standard price on eBay for years, for an opened but complete figure was between $800-$900. So I had given up on ever having him in my own collection, particularly since I don't play the lottery. But amazingly Takara-TOMY, the Japanese side of the Transformer brand, decided to re-release the figure again, at a much more affordable price! So, after a long wait for it to be produced, then shipped overseas, then delivered to me, I now present the towering Headmaster - Fortress Maximus:

He really is as big as the pictures make him out to be, and never would have fit on my shelves in my collection room in the old house! It's almost comical how large the figure is, especially when transforming him. The legs fold together to make part of the back of the "city" mode of the figure, and I found myself wedging one section under my arm and another under my chin just to get the leverage I needed to ratchet the leg up at the hip joint. Changing modes on this guy was a whole new experience! 

I was slightly anxious to get this guy in my hands. I mean, the technology that went into it is over 25 years old, so it isn't exactly the most pose-able figure ever. But once he was out of the box and sitting on my desk, I didn't care how long ago he was designed. He's still an awesome feat of plastic engineering! 

So now I have to make plans for the collection room in the new house to actually fit this guy in somewhere... plus, he's been the largest Transformer toy for 25 years, BUT there's a new version of Metroplex coming out in a few months that's just a tiny big taller still! So I guess I'll need to plan two spots for the giants to loom over everyone else. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Generations Springer and Blitzwing quick review

So it's been WAY too long since my last post here. I'll see if I can make this happen more frequently going forward.

Since my last post I've watched my collection count run back up over the 1,000 mark again. Part of that is due to the Kre-O line of figures, which are just awesome! I've been doing everything I can go make sure I get all of the micro-figure releases, and I have most of the larger kits prior to the Beast Hunters line. The micro-changer combiner figures are just awesome! I can't wait to have display space again to put my diorama back together.

So one of the major changes in my life recently has been a move to a new(ish) town. We sold our house just a month back now, and we've been in the planning stages to build another home in our new location. That meant that my collection had to come down and get stored for a year again. There are 14 grey Rubbermaid totes in various locations with the majority of my figures again. Sadly, there's even a Generations Voyager Grimlock and Blaster still in their boxes in the back of a storage unit that I won't be able to get to until the house is built... but the collection continues anyway!

So this post is primarily focused on the latest Voyager figures from the Generations line, the resurrected triple-changers Springer and Blitzwing. Pardon the quality of the camera shots, I'm using my cellphone camera at this point.

I was really excited to see triple-changers come back into production, and was really happy to see the three-faced featured from Animated Blitzwing show up in this figure! After finding the toys locally, I'm still happy to have them in my collection, but disappointed in some of the execution of the two toys.

My first slight disappointment came when changing Springer from robot mode into his car mode. The final vehicle looks ok, but the problem is with the tolerances needed on the parts. For this vehicle to really look as good as it should, there are a number of small pegs that supposedly snap together along the side panels and the front windshield/windows. Unfortunately, due to the slight variances you get in mass producing a toy, the pegs and slots just don't line up well enough to stay together. They're pretty close, and one side of the vehicle looks great, but the other side just keeps popping apart near the back fender. There were similar pieces in the helicopter mode, particularly the flap just behind the rotor blades that has two ridges that should snap into the back of the legs. It just doesn't work, no matter how I shift the pieces around. So, ultimately, the vehicle modes look nice if you don't touch them, or look too close at the places parts join together. He's much better in robot mode!

Blitzwing didn't have quite the same tolerance issues, but instead has extremely loose hip joints and the ball joints in his feet. He's able to stand on his own right now, but just barely. If I were to transform him a dozen or so times, I have a feeling that would degrade even further. I can fix the feet with a bit of super glue, but the hip joints are pegs that would take much more effort to try to update. So, he's been changed to tank and jet modes once, and that's probably all he'll ever get.

Of the two figures, Springer does the best job of pulling off two separate vehicle modes that look good. His armored car looks like a Cybertronian version of the Tumbler from the Batman movies. His copter mode is a bit chunky, but still pretty solid.

Blitzwing, unfortunately, needs some imagination to overlook the gaps left in his tank mode, and the way the turret swivels from the wrong point entirely. The jet mode is better, but still has some big holes left when you look at it from various angles. And his head... it's on a spring to allow it to push down and be covered by the nose cone. But when it's popped out in robot mode, it's loose enough to make him look like a bobble-head! My second gripe was about his face-change feature. The instructions show a red arrow to push the face upward to switch to the next one. Wrong! Trying to push up just jams the face behind it into the back of the helmet, doing nothing. Pushing it down is the only way to get it moving correctly, which caused me quite a bit of frustration. I ended up taking the screw out of the side of his helmet and taking the whole thing apart to figure it out... it was either that or I was about 30 seconds away from snapping his neck trying to get the face to turn the wrong way.

So, they're solid buys for people that like the triple-changer aspect of toys, and don't really mind vehicle modes that aren't all that convincing in places. Just be aware that there may be joint issues with Blitzwing, and be prepared to have panels that don't really lock together as well as they should. If you're fans of the characters, definitely a good buy! If you want solid playability in your figures, these really aren't the best.