Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Convertors Defender Wheels

Wheels 8

Completing the Dorvack mecha trio, I finally have the mini Henkei-type Mugen Calibur (or Wheels, if you prefer its Convertors namesake.) The version I have here is actually the Takatoku/Mark original Japanese version, as it has the chrome stickers & a Mark stamp on the bottom.

Wheels 7

Wheels' bio reads:

"Rugged and swift, converts into a jeep that is able to cruise over rough terrain while seeking invaders that may have landed in areas undetected by central computer or other Defenders."

Out of all the Dorvack mechs, the Mugen Calibur definitely has the most personality (In that he doesn't have a mono-eye like Chopper, or the physique of a gorilla a la Tanker.) Aesthetically, he's second only to First Track.

Wheels 6

Unfortunately, he's somewhat lacking articulation. Only the shoulders articulated, which normally wouldn't normally be a problem, but the gun is clearly meant to be two-handed, so it looks a bit silly when held in a "firing" position (hence why I have it mounted on the back of the figure in the other photos. Also, I personally believe there's no reason why they couldn't have incorporated jointed hips and knees, which would have shot this figure straight out the the ball park.

Wheels 5

The transformation is...interesting. You would think they would have used the kind of sliding/telescoping joint in the hips that most transforming robots used...but instead, the legs are joined together by a metal bar & they basically just dangle there when they aren't tabbed in anywhere. It's not bad, per say...just odd...

Wheels 4

However, the tranformation is satisfying enough. Once you get everything tabbed in place, it holds together pretty well.

Wheels 3

The vehicle mode is something of an oddity. It's clearly supposed to be some sort of military off-road vehicle, akin to something like a jeep. If the scale (around 1/72) is to be believed, however, it would be more similar in size to an armored truck. Apparently the actual animation model is equally awkwardly large, so I guess it's not that big a deal.

Wheels 2

All scale issues aside, the vehicle mode is actually pretty nicely detailed. The chrome-sticker headlights and windshield are nice touches, as are the molded driver seat and steering wheel. There are also some grenades molded in gray plastic on the side of the vehicle, which ironically look better in vehicle mode than in robot mode.

Wheels 1

I actually had a very difficult time coming up with things to say about this figure. It's the flagship mecha for Dorvack, and is definitely the most interesting to look at...but there's something kind of bland about the figure itself.

I'm torn between 3.5 and 4 out of 5. If you're a fan of Dorvack, this is probably the cheapest incarnation of the Calibur you can come by, but be warned: it's basically a transforming statue with moveable arms. If it's Dorvack you want, I reccomend Chopper over this guy.

Tokusou Kihei Dorvack

Convertors Defender First Track

First Track 13

First Track, like all the Defenders & nearly all of the Convertors figures, originated from the bankrupt toy company, Takatoku. At the time of their demise, Takatoku was contracted to produce toys for such well-known anime shows as SDF Macross and Orguss, as well as some slightly-less-successful shows as Galvion and Dorvack...and another show called Galactic Whirlwind Sasuraiger.

First Track 12

Sasuraiger was the third anime in the "J9" series, which included Braiger and Baxinger. The series was a sort of a nod to the book "Around The World in 80 Days," with a host of characters with very American names ("Blues Carl Bernstein" and "Beat Mackenzie," to name a few) and the lead-hero-mecha turning into 19th-century-locomotive capable of space flight, on a quest to navigate all 50 planets in the system within the course of a year.

First Track 11

Interestingly, while the lead mecha is the TV-83X Sasuraiger, it was originally known as the "Batrain." This name can be seen emblazened on the tender of Takatoku's larger Sasuraiger toy. The smaller toy was picked up, like many of the other smaller Takatoku mecha toys, by Mark, and in turn, Select for the Convertors line.

First Track 10

The figure pictured is, in fact, the American Convertors version. The box comes from a knock-off of the Japanese version (the knock-off is virtually identical to this, except its hands are blue and it's broken now because the quality is TERRIBLE.)

First Track 9

First Track's bio reads:

Fast and clever. Converts into a train designed to protect Earth's rail transport networks which are important to supply defense systems.

First Track 8

Perhaps the most striking of the Defenders color-wise, First Track is actually made of 4 different colors of plastic. He's also the only Defender with chrome parts. Add to that the painted visor & chrome stickers and you end up with a very attractive robot. The colorscheme bears many resemblances to other Japanese mecha of the time, especially Super-Robots.

First Track 2

The amount of articulation is also noteworthy, if still a bit lacking (such is the mark of 80's transforming toys.) The head & shoulders can rotate 360 degrees, the elbows can bend, the wrists rotate, and the knees bend a little.

First Track 1

An unfortunate side-effect of the transfor--excuse me, conversion, the smokestack ends up in a somewhat awkward place. It's supposed to fold up against the back of the robot, but age has made my example a bit loose. The elbow joints also have a tendency to work loose, but this can be easily remedied with a small phillips screwdriver.

First Track 7

Another unfortunate aspect of the conversion is that First Track is a bit of a "parts-former"; the arms have to be removed, then pegged together underneath the boiler of the locomotive. Other than that, the transformation is a satisfying sequence of flips and twists.

First Track 6

The vehicle mode might turn some away, but I think it's every bit as attractive as the robot mode. A bad-ass robot with a big gun turning into a 19th-century locomotive colored like something that should be encircling your Christmas tree is something I find endlessly amusing. There are interesting nods to the robot mode all over, like the chest sticker atop the cabin & the red hands forming the cow-catcher.

First Track 3

I've seen pictures of the original Takatoku mini-Sasuraiger that show some additional stickers on the sides of the train's cabin. I have yet to see a figure with these stickers for sale, though...which is a shame, as the vehicle mode is just a touch bland without them. Nevertheless, all the colorful quirkiness of the robot mode is retained in the train mode. Also retained from the robot mode is the looseness of the elbows, which can cause the undercarriage of the train to hang just a bit askew. However, as previously mentioned, this can be fixed by tightening the screws. You likely won't even have to worry about it unless you plan on swooshing the figure around in the air, in train mode.

First Track 4

First Track is, to put it simply, awesome. The inescapably Japanese robot mode, with its wacky colors & giant chrome gun, coupled with the borderline ridiculous vehicle mode make the figure just as badass as it is fun and quirky. However, the parts-forming & the slightly daft alt mode might not appeal to some. Still, his superior design & slight scarcity (relative to other Convertors), as well as being one of the very few Sasuraiger toys, makes him definately worth tracking down.

4.8 out of 5 for the Batrain.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Transformers Dark of the Moon Voyager-Class Shockwave

At long last, after two movies, Michael Bay has FINALLY decided to give us a Shockwave in the final installment of his Transformers trilogy. Having seen the movie, I have little to comment on in regards to the character himself, but does the toy compensate for that?

Shockwave 11

Shockwave's bio reads:

"Few have ever seen Shockwave and lived. This is the hand that ensures Decepticon plans remain secret from the Autobots. He eliminates evidence and witnesses with brutal, emotionless efficiency. The only hints he ever leaves of his presence are smoking craters and the collapsed tunnels through which he travels."

Those of us who are familiar with Shockwave know that this bears little resemblance to his original G1 anime or comic character, other than the "emotionless" bits.

Shockwave 10

The figure, however, pays a nice Bay-Former homage to G1 Shockwave. He's purple, has a mono eye, and a gun arm (although, on the wrong side; it should be on the left hand) linked to a backpack by a rubber hose. Speaking of the hose, while it is a nice touch, it's just a tad too short & can limit poseability depending on where on the back you have it plugged in.

Shockwave 12

Articulation is superb; the knees are double-jointed, making very dramatic, action-packed leaping or dodging poses attainable. The shoulders are also on two separate joints, which makes posing the arms smooth and easy. The only drawbacks are the head and wrists; the head is on a pivot joint, and I firmly believe a ball-jointed neck would have knocked this toy right out of the ball park. The wrists do not pivot, but can be bent, so it's really only a minor complaint of mine. Those two small gripes aside, this figure has stellar poseability rarely seen in Bay-Former toys.

Shockwave 8

For the first movie toys, we got the "Auto-Morph" which employed the use of springs and gears to automatically "transform" parts of your toy for you. For Revenge of the Fallen, we got "Mech-Alive," a mostly useless, but fun to look at feature; when moved certain parts of the figure, gears would rotate or pistons would expand and retract. The big gimmick for Dark of the Moon is the "Mech Tech" feature. All of the larger (deluxe, voyager, etc.) figures come with weapons which, usually by pushing a tab or button, deploy different or even larger weapons. In most cases, this gimmick royally sucks. The weapons are grossly large and misproportioned, and as such, usually have no storage in vehicle mode (unless you want to make some stupid 'attack mode' by sticking the weapon on top.)

Shockwave 7

Shockwave 6

Shockwave's Mech Tech weapon, however, is nicely incorporated into the figure. While I would have preferred a firing missile, this is a decent substitute. When you push a small panel on the back of the gun, two smaller cannons flip out from beside it...and actually don't look all that bad. I prefer to have them deployed in vehicle mode, but it's all about your preference. The arm cannon is also removeable, so you can have Shockwave with two normal arms if you so choose. He also comes with a sword/gun/bayonette thing that can attach to his backpack, arm cannon, left arm, etc. I personally could have done without this accessory, but it doesn't hurt the aesthetic of the figure, so I just leave it on his left arm.

Shockwave 9

Shockwave's robot mode is superb. Pretty much anything you could ask for from a Bayverse Shockwave is well-delivered in this figure. He's fun to play with and nice to look at. (Just like your mom!)

Shockwave 5

Transforming Shockwave is fairly straightforward. It's not too complex, but it's not dismally simple either. Everything locks tightly into place, and the end result is a solid alt mode.

Shockwave 3

There is much to be said about the alt mode. The packaging calls it a "Ground Assault Mode," but the general consensus is that it's some sort of Cybertronian tank. Many fans of Shockwave have been put off by his not transforming into a giant space gun, but it doesn't bother me too much. The tank mode is far more practical, if a bit more generic, and even works as a subtle nod to past Shockwave renditions (Animated Shockwave, Energon Shockblast.)

Shockwave 2

The paint apps are well-placed, and all the versatility of the weapon and hose attachment is retained. Now, one thing in particular I will point out: the little claw-wheel assembly thing on the front. When you look at pictures of this toy, it seems like this assembly is just stuck onto the front of the chunkier, more armored tank. However, when you're holding the toy and looking at it in person, it really looks and feels more integral to the tank.

Shockwave 4

All-in-all, Shockwave delivers. Fans of G1 Shockwave and Bayformer Junkies alike will delight in owning this gem of a figure. Even though the alt mode may be slightly "meh" to some, the perfectly-executed robot mode is surely enough to compensate for that. Do not hesitate to pick one up!

Shockwave 1

A 5 out of 5-star rating is the only logical conclusion.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Convertors Super Defender X

X 8

Here we have another Super Defender, X. I'm currently kicking myself because I broke my D. A. Tona, then sold it for $10 (they go for nearly $100 on ebay. -_- )

X's bio reads:

Still in the experimental stages. Is not only tougher but potentially faster than the rest of the Defenders. The Maladroids are truly concerned over the development of X.

X 7

Like the other Super Defenders, X shares traces his lineage from the anime "Super High-Speed Galvion" and from the defunct toy company, Takatoku. At present, I cannot find the mecha in the show from which X originates, so if anyone has any information, please let me know.

X 7

X's robot mode is around the same height as other Convertors, but he is much thicker & more squat. The unavoidable half-bent stance of the arms doesn't help things. The chrome spoiler mounted atop the body is actually rather nice, though. However, all this aside, the thing that really cripples the robot mode is the weak joints in the legs. As part of the transformation, the diecast calf part of the leg extends from the thigh. Being that this is a near-30-year-old toy, these joints have worn, making the figure VERY difficult to stand without the legs collapsing. Very annoying.

X 5

Transforming the figure begins with folding the forearms up, lifting the canopy/cockpit of the vehicle up from the chest & folding the head into it (doing this exposes some nicely molded chrome engine bits), then flipping the spoiler up, collapsing the legs, and folding the feet down.

X 3

The end result resembles what one might call the 80's equivalent to a "Cybertronian" alt mode, and in this case, that's NOT a good thing. It basically looks like a folded-up robot. Retaining all the chunkiness of the robot mode, it doesn't look particularly fast, either.

X 2

Perhaps the worst thing about the vehicle mode, however, is the fact that it is completely without any rigidity. The legs and arms are constantly flopping out of place & the ugly vehicle is hardly worth the trouble of fixing them.

X 1

I suppose if chunky, futuristic racecars are your thing, then you may not mind this figure's flaws. However, if you really want to track one of these down, try to get one in mint condition. I payed about $5 for this example, and it's in relatively okay shape. However, the loose joints completely cripple the vehicle mode & the robot mode is a squat, ugly thing.

X 4

Were it not for the loose joints, I'd actually probably like this figure. In light of this, I'll give this figure a (generous) potential score of 2.5-3 out of 5. For my example, however, I wouldn't give it a point over 1 out of 5, and it hardly deserves that.

Monday, March 7, 2011

An apology...

Hello, all!

It has been literally years since my last blog post & I wanted to apologize for that. I have acquired many, many new robot toys since the last post, but I lack a decent camera to take pictures for reviews! So, as soon as I get a better camera than the one on my phone (trust me, you DON'T want me to use that) then I'll start back up with the reviews.


First Track
Nofka (Recolor)

Takatoku 1/100 VF-1S Roy
Knock-off Takatoku 1/100 VF-1J Hikaru
Knock-off Takatoku Henkei VF-1A
Takatoku 1/55 VF-1J Hikaru

Knock-off Diaclone Browning

Thanks for viewing!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Scout-Class Ransack

I apologize for the lull in reviews; I've been flat broke recently. However, I came by a small amount of cash & saw this guy on a website, and at an MSRP of $9, it was too good to pass up.

This is the closest thing to an official "steampunk" style Transformer we're ever going to come (aside from Hearts of Steel...but that's another matter entirely.) On to the review...


Ransack's bio reads:

"Back in the distant past of Cybertron, when flight was a new technology, Ransack was first of the flying aces. He was a ruthless combatant, blasting his opponents out of the sky, and then strafing the helpless troops stuck on the ground without cover. He may be past his prime and equipped with outdated weapons now, but there was a time when Ransack was the most feared name on Cybertron."


This figure's alt mode is a German Albatross D.V. I believe this was the aircraft used by "Red Baron" Manfred Von Richthofen just before he began piloting his famous Triplane.


The vehicle has lots of little details. The propeller spins quite well, there's a cockpit seat, and there are some nice (non-sticky) paint apps all over the place. There are also some little weapons underneath the wings.


The robot arms (as you can clearly see) are the only kibble on the alt mode, and to be honest, from most perspectives, you can hardly see them. The weapons (machine guns & little bombs!) disguise them a bit, too. For the small size of the figure, I can excuse this little bit of kibble, especially since everything else is done so beautifully.

Transforming Ransack is a bit fiddly, but not too bad. The arms pop off occasionally, but they're easily reattached.

Ye olde Decepticon

Ransack is easily my favorite movie-former (considering I don't much care for the movie line, that's saying something.) There's just so much character, and clearly a lot of thought went into the design.


Getting a robot out of a flimsy little biplane is a hard thing to pull off, but somehow Hasbro has pulled it off very nicely. Like I said, there's something very Steampunk-esque about this guy. It's very skeletal, but simple & not quite as weird & "thrown-together" as other movie designs. The weapons are well placed, and the "cape" is a nice touch.


Ransack, for his size, has very good articulation. The shoulder is on a single ball joint, and the arms pivot at the elbows. The legs are on ball joints & bend at the knees. However, the articulation on each foot is different (the right foot being more poseable than the left) and the head doesn't pivot. There are still many dynamic poses to be had with Ransack, though.

With Mask

You'll notice that the engine block forms the top part of his head. This might bother some people, but I'm fine with it. The rest of the head sculpt is very nice, very skull-like. Also, for some reason, the face & engine are removable...



All in all, Ransack is a great figure. He's well-sculped, well-painted, well-balanced, well-articulated, and just an all-round well-designed Transformer. He's also very cheap, so if you want him, don't hesitate to grab him.

A 5/5 to ye olde Decepticon!