Opinion - Scorsese and Coppola Vs. the MCU: Are we focusing on the wrong argument?
October 25, 2019
Nuking The Cat
Last Refuge of the Sensible Nerd
Toy Review - Transformers Titans Return Voyager Class: Wave 2
March 23, 2017
If the word I used to describe wave 1 of Titans Return was “unfinished”, then the word I’d use to describe wave 2 would be “overcompensating”. That’s not strictly a negative in this case, as I think Hasbro owes us some paint apps given how much they’ve been skimping out lately (ESPECIALLY with these Titan Masters!), but there’s this thing called balance…
This wave gives collectors Astrotrain and Alpha Trion. Surprising absolutely no one, Astrotrain is the true reason the mold exists, with wave 1’s Sentinel Prime being the…would you call this a ‘pre-paint’? Especially with all that ORANGE? Yes, let’s use ‘prepaint’…anyway, Sentinel was the prepaint and Astrotrain is the mold as it was intended. Alpha Trion is the first time the character has seen wide release (yes, we know, there have been convention exclusives) ever, even though the character has been part of the mythos since way back in the G1 days. The toy is mostly a unique mold at the time of this writing. I say mostly because Takara/Tomy opted to paint this mold as Lioconvoy from their Japan-exclusive Beast Wars II line (which we’ll look at later) and while I don’t have my mitts on him yet, it looks like Broadside is going to be an extensive retool of this mold. Introductions out of the way, let’s take a look at the figures themselves.
Let’s go ahead and start with Astrotrain since we’ve already taken a look at this mold back in wave 1 and my opinion remains mostly unchanged. The shuttle mode is good, the train mode is crap. Although…thanks to the paint…if you use the shuttle ends instead of the train ends while in train mode, you do get an interesting bullet train vibe from the toy that actually kinda helps. It’s the paint scheme where Astrotrain ends up being vastly superior over his prepaint. Okay, sure, that’s an easy thing to say…all it had to do was be 90% less ORANGE to meet that goal…but with the proper colors, it’s very easy to see that this was the character that the mold was intended for and anyone saying otherwise is full of it. [Yeah, can’t think of a single person to ever suggest that Sentinel was in intended character for this mold. – Ed.]
Moving on to Alpha Trion, he’s got a horned lion mode and a carrier mode that would look right at home with something like the SDF-1 or Space Battleship Yamato. Now…you might be asking yourself, “why a horned lion”? Well, I did anyway…and it turns out that it’s a mythological creature shared by Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures called the Xiezhi, Kaichi and Haetae respectively. This ends up being significant once you see that this creature comes to symbolize law and justice…not a shabby alt-mode for one of the Original Thirteen. While this mode does succeed in having the beast mode legs more directly under the main body of the cat…as in actual cats…and not off to the side like many a cat-bot before, the side effect of that is that the articulation is pretty limited. Looking at this mode from the sides, well, there are gaps. Again, given the history of Transformers that have had similar modes, it’s certainly nothing unexpected. The canopy where the Titan Master sits in this mode does have some cat-like detail to it…but it’s difficult to see as the transparent orange plastic does its best to minimize this detail. This canopy will be more recognizable as the bridge of the carrier mode…but we’re not done here yet. The last thing I wanted to point out was that the sword becomes the tail of the beast…and it looks like a sword sticking out a lion’s butt. Call the World Wildlife Fund…and a good lio-proctologist…stat. In carrier mode, sure, one could certainly make the ‘it’s a spaceship because they tell you it’s a spaceship’ argument…but again, given that this mode does at least look to have a common ancestry with similar spacecraft from anime, I’m fine with the mode and honestly, I prefer it when given my choice between the two. It’s not without flaw though as the split lion heads on the sides feel more like a ‘well, we had to put ‘em somewhere’ design choice and the asymmetry created by docking the sword on either one side or the other…okay, well, that’s personal taste there, so it isn’t really fair for me to dock the toy points for that. [Oh…we have rules now? When did this happen? – Ed.] Robot mode is pretty damn snazzy…shedding Alpha Trion’s traditional G1 look for a more aged Samurai and it works really well. Yes, there are minor nits to be picked here as while there are a fair number of points of articulation, some of those points end up being a bit more limited than one would like. It’s certainly not a deal-breaker though due to the fact that if there’s one Transformer that’s not going to be doing a lot of dynamic posing…it’s gonna be Grandpa-tron here. Speaking of posing, another minor nit would be the feet. The instructions aren’t really clear on how far to click them so as to serve as a stable foundation for the figure…and many of the YouTube reviews you’ll come across will have their own individual solutions as well. Really, it’s just about fussing with the toy on your own and finding out what works…but a little bit of fiddling and you should find something. Still, the ratchet in the ankles of mine always feels like it’s just a bit off. I can’t help but wonder if a little disassembly might result in something better.
Wave 2 ends up being a bit of a mixed bag…through no fault of its own. I can’t give it a shining endorsement mainly because Astrotrain feels like a bit of a carryover from wave 1. Yeah, I’m aware that Hasbro is in this mode of milking each mold for all it’s worth. [Um, they’ve been doing this shit for a LOOOOONG time now: Prowl, Bluestreak and Smokescreen anyone? Or how about all the original 6 Decepticon Jets? – Ed.] Okay, fine, that’s true…but what about spacing them out a bit more? Don’t give us the same mold in two consecutive waves…maybe skip a wave and then bring it back. In the case of Astrotrain, there’d be the advantage of having a release closer to the upcoming Blitzwing and Octane molds. It almost feels that Alpha Trion becomes my favorite of the wave simply by default! Still, there’s some improvement here over wave 1…most notably that Hasbro decided to crack open their wallet and give this wave the paint apps it deserves. For that reason alone, they’re worth a look. As toys, well, they do fall into the standard triple-changer dilemma: one alt-mode is great, one alt-mode sucks. Scratch that, Alpha Trion for me is more of a ‘one alt-mode is good, one alt-mode is pretty good’. Averaging that metric out over the entire wave…one great alt-mode (Astrotrain’s shuttle), one pretty good alt-mode (Alpha Trion’s carrier), one good alt-mode (Alpha Trion’s beast mode) and one alt-mode sucks (Astrotrain’s train mode) and…well, once you remove the fact that Astrotrain’s a repeat or look at this wave on its own merits and not in comparison to wave 1, it’s a pretty solid wave overall and worth picking up.