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REVIEW – Titans Return Misfire

The raging pink robot you’ve been waiting for

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Review – Titans Return Misfire (Transformers)

Made by: Hasbro

Faction: Decepticon

Price at retail: $25-$30

Scale/Class: Deluxe

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Thirty years after they launched the third series of Transformers figures into the market Hasbro have reached back and plumbed the depths of their own IP. Most fans can agree it’s been a resounding success.

In 1987 the Transformers line had already begun to veer away from the initial offerings, as Hasbro had already used up all the characters that they had drawn in from Microman and Diaclone for the initial run of toys back in 1984.

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The first shift began with Transformers: The Movie in 1986 where a whole raft of new characters were brought in, while a host of beloved originals were quickly put to the sword (or blaster).

Thus the characters went from mostly recognisable alternate modes such as semi-trailers and race cars to vibrantly coloured space fighters and bizarre vehicles which stood out like a sore thumb.

This new wave of design also brought several new gimmicks with it – Headmasters, Transformers who had bonded their heads with human sized aliens and were able to remove to increase their capabilities(?), and Targetmasters, Transformers who had guns that could transform into smaller robots.

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Misfire is one of the latter, a Decepticon Targetmaster who transforms into a pink space fighter. People who say that pink is not for boys have never laid eyes on Misfire. The Titans Return line has eschewed the Targetmaster gimmick, and thus all characters deluxe class or bigger are now Headmasters, including Misfire (although he does get a Targetmaster release in the Takara Legends line).

Misfire is almost ninety percent pink, with only a few sections either rendered in a slightly off-white plastic or covered with paint apps. His thighs and biceps have been moulded in white, while his hands and feet are in black, and white paint has been applied to his knees and the centre of his chest, which is offset nicely with some red. His helmet is black, with a light blue visor and a greyish face plate. The canopy of the cockpit is moulded in a transparent blue.

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He carries a Decepticon insignia on either arm, and on the nose of his fighter mode, and Hasbro have applied tampographs to his legs and the upper sides of his wings to bring out some detail.

In terms of armaments Misfire carries two blasters, both the same shade of pink as the rest of him. The blasters can join together to form a kind of seated turret for the Titanmaster, but they never really mesh together well, so you can avoid this mode.

Fans already familiar with the line will know that Misfire is a retool of Triggerhappy, who along with their pal Slugslinger make up the trio of original Decepticon Targetmasters. All three of them share the same set of legs, but have differing modes of transformation.

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To take Misfire from robot to fighter mode you have to pop off his head (and transform it into Titanmaster mode) and then pull his backpack piece into place where his head previously was. His arms swing down on tabs, and he has the standard hollow forearms of deluxe figures that allow his hands to be folded inside them. His legs simply fold up, with his feet tucked in so that they sit at the halfway point of his fighter mode.

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The fiddliest bit of this sequence is moving his wing plates – you have to wiggle them a bit and sort of continuously move them as you move his arm plates lower down his torso (don’t forget to tab them in place once you’re done). Once everything is in place his wrists should tab into slots along his legs, locking everything up nice and firm.

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Pop open the canopy and drop the Titanmaster in to pilot Misfire in fighter mode. Pop each of his blasters under either wing and he’s all done.

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Should you buy Misfire? Yes, you should. He’s a solid figure with a very swooshable alt-mode, fantastic pink paint job and enough articulation to keep you interested.

Review – Mech Fans Toys Reflector (Transformers)

Review – Mech Fans Toys Reflector (Transformers)

Made by: Mech Fans Toys

Faction: Decepticon

Price at retail: Starting around $50 online

Scale/Class: Legends

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Mech Fans Toys have released their KO version of Perfect Effect’s take on Reflector, which makes their attempt, named Camera Brothers, a 4th party representation of this Decepticon. Reflector wasn’t all that available back in the 1980’s due to the fact that he (they?) was a mail in item which required aspiring kids to cut out tokens on the packs of other transformers and then send those along with a bit of extra cash to receive a transforming camera. The characters appearance in the original cartoon was haphazard and pretty minimal, and after the movie he/they pretty much ceased to exist.

In the years since Reflector has made a few appearances in various mediums, mainly comics, often with differing versions depending on the publisher/creative team. MFT’s version is based of the G1 cartoon designs, sticking with that Decepticon purple mixed with off white/grey for the arms and thighs. All three bots have their chest plates covered in metallic green, with hints of red and silver being used to pick up certain design elements.

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The middle bot retains the lens mount/shutter assembly (the original version was dubbed Viewfinder), but the other two are now straight up clones minus that lens point. The transformation of the bots to camera elements is very straight forward. First, swing down the shoulder mounts and rotate the forearms so that the hands touch the grey clip points on their backs. Push their legs together and then fold them backwards into a backpack style arrangement, covering the forearms.

Camera Brothers/Reflector comes with a generous amount of accessories. The base of the camera comes away to form a large riot shield, inside of which is stored one of three combat knives and two parts of the sniper rifle (Barrel and scope). The flash unit as actually a bulky rocket pod, while the smaller purple unit (light meter perhaps?) splits up to form shoulder mounted missile pods and the handle for a rather large chain-gun style weapon. The Telephoto lens splits into three components – the main part becomes a sort of jet-pack thingy, while the two side panel come away to reveal the two other knives. Inside the lens are three large rifles (looking very much like the pulse rifle from Aliens). The viewfinder part of the camera can be split in two for shoulder guards, and you get a bonus purple coloured one so that everyone gets to wear something nice on their shoulders. All three bots each get a unique blaster pistol

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Each bot features 12 points of articulation – a waist swivel, hips, knees, ankle tilts, shoulders, elbows and a ball joint at the neck. Some reasonable poses can be achieved, and there is a slot at the back of the waist where you could tab in a Gundam style display arm. There’s enough accessories that each bot can be decked out with a good amount of gear. The most integral feature has to be the ankle tilts, without these you’d quickly become enraged convincing these guys to stay upright.

The one thing I really struggled with was using any of the shoulder guards – they require some effort to get on, and I was terrified I’d break them trying.

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In terms of finished production the bots are for the most part pretty clean, although there is some visible flashing from where they’ve been cut from sprues during assembly. The paint apps are all nice and simple, and thankfully pretty clean. All the joints are just in that Goldilocks zone (not too tight, nor too loose), and the shoulder tabs in particular give off a satisfying little feeling as they lock into place.

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The camera mode is okay, but due to all the parts-forming it’s pretty hard to get a compact fit that doesn’t look like it’s slightly falling apart at some point. Given that Perfect Effects original set would probably be a chore to find by now this offering from MFT isn’t a half bad proposition.

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8/10 – Three fun little bots with a slew of great/good accessories!

Black Panther

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Director: Ryan Coogler

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Daniel Kaluuya & Martin Freeman

Studio: Disney/Marvel Studios

Run time: 135 minutes

Score: 3/5

The box office of 2018 is still a young thing, and already Black Panther has cemented itself as the marquee film to beat this cinematic year. It’s certainly a different Marvel film in some regards, while also being frustratingly familiar in other ways.

Prince T’Challa (Boseman) returns to his wondrous Wakanda to claim his rightful place as king after his father’s death at the UN (see Captain America: Civil War). Having taken on his new mantle he is alerted to the reappearance of an old nemesis, and the plot finally begins to move forward.

I saw Black Panther for the second time this week, and while it is a solid film of the same calibre as Doctor Strange it’s definitely not a Thor Ragnarok. Part of the problem for me was not in the film itself, but rather the over-strength hype-wave it rode into cinemas.

For weeks leading into its release I was stalked by ads on facebook, breathlessly exclaiming that Black Panther had some of the most mesmerising fight scenes ever shown in a film. Various outlets have hailed it as a “Masterpiece”, or as “The film we need right now”.

It’s definitely the film Disney “needed” right now, insofar as the House of Mouse actually needs any more money. And it is extremely refreshing to see a nearly all black cast of talented actors carry a tentpole film to immediate box office glory.

The fight scenes are, at best, good-to-OK quality, but too often the choreography is obscured by either shaky camera work/over editing or poor lighting. They do not leave you with the same sense of wonderment that you had when you saw the original Matrix film.

The CG for the most part is engaging, although it looked a bit raggedy in the full daylight sequences, and the score/soundtrack is a mix of the usual Marvel orchestra bombast opposite work by Kendrick Lamar.

The main mercy is that no one turns in a hammy performance, apart from Andy Serkis as arms dealer Ulysses Klaue, who deliberately amps it up to eleven. Boseman carries the lead well and is given a bit more warmth than he was allowed in Civil War. Letitia Wright is good fun as his sister Shuri, and Lupita N’yongo and Danai Gurira give solid turns as Nakia and Okoye. Perhaps the most over-hyped role is reserved for Jordan, whose ferocious but soulful and angry Killmonger has already been elevated to a super-status by enthusiastic writers.

If you’re the kind of person that needs to see every single scene you’ll have to stick around until the very end of the credits.

In conclusion Black Panther is good, but not great.

Game Night

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Director: John Francis Daley & Johnathon Goldstein

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler and Jesse Plemons

Studio: New Line Cinema

Run time: 100 minutes

Score: 3/5

 

Game Night is the kind of film Jason Bateman can churn out in his sleep, which easily sums up almost all the films Bateman ever does, because all he ever does is play Jason Bateman. There is nothing wrong with this. Bateman is one of those guys you can just watch bumble his way through anything.

Props to Daley and Goldstein who actually manage to wring something decent from a very generic premise. Max (Bateman) and Annie (McAdams) are a married couple who love hosting a weekly game night with a few select friends, with an extremely competitive edge. Things take a turn for the hilarious when Max’s charismatic brother Brookes arrives in town and decides to host game night at his place.

Bateman is spot on with his affable every-man, and McAdams is a good comedic foil as his boisterous wife Annie. They’re supported well by couples Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury) and Sarah (Sharon Horgan) with Ryan (Billy Magnussen, who plays a clueless dope very well)

Tilt-shift camera angles are used to give wide, external shots a miniaturised, board game feel, and the film doesn’t overstay its welcome, running at a crisp 100 minutes.

Jesse Plemons continues to be a better Matt Damon than Matt Damon and generates a few laughs as Max and Annie’s creepy cop neighbour.

Game Night is the perfect film for an easy date night.

 

Review – Titans Return Seaspray

Review – Titans Return Seaspray (Transformers)

Made by: Hasbro

Faction: Autobot

Price at retail: $15-19 but so far only found online

Scale/Class: Legends

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Hasbro has been doing some good work in the Titans Return run, and one area where things are improving is in the Legends class range. While fans are aware of the substantial price hike here in Oz it is good to see that you do get more for your close-to-$20 purchase.

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Seaspray joins the elite of TR Legends, which in my humble opinion (feel free to disagree) are Gnaw and Brawn, two figures who accurately capture not just their personalities but also the updated G1 aesthetic.

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Seaspray is once again resplendent in his tri-colour goodness of white, butter-yellow and a blue that is very reminiscent of his G1 toy. His small (rocket launcher?) weapon is rendered in red and white.

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His transformation is an extension of the very primitive way his G1 toy transformed. His arms swing up and lock into place as the rear side skirts of the hovercraft. The backpack section of the torso swings up, and then his legs perform a slightly complex fold to tuck in and complete the front of the hull. To finish off his chest plate swings up to obscure his head and you pop his launcher weapon on top of the hovercraft cabin.

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To offset his extremely bulky feet Hasbro have given him articulation at the hips, thighs, knees and ankles (partly necessitated by his transformation). While his ankles don’t pivot he is afforded a good degree of mobility throughout his legs, and can achieve some cool leaping poses with the aid of stand which can plug into the 3mm port.

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So, should you buy Seaspray? YES! You can pick him up for as little as $15 online, and I get the feeling that he may be one TR figure that bypasses Australian retail.

Review – Titans Return Sky Shadow

Review – Titans Return Sky Shadow (Transformers)

Made by: Hasbro

Faction: Decepticon

Price at retail: $70-$90

Scale/Class: Leader

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Sky Shadow is a very impressive figure. He looms over the other TR figures on my shelf, and looks imposing even alongside fellow leader class figure Soundwave. As most fans are aware he is a first run mould of what will be Over Lord – they share the exact same legs that separate and transform into a tank, with only their upper torsos differing by what jet fighters they turn into.

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Sky Shadow has a quite broad palette of paint and plastic – he is mostly black, but picked out with copper, red, chrome and different hues of plastic such as the light grey used for his thighs. He sports two Decepticon logos on his shoulders, with another two on the top side of his wings and yet another two on the turret of his tank mode.

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Like all Leader class figures Sky Shadow’s saving grace is his ankle tilts. Without this particular point of articulation he would look nowhere near as dynamic, but with a range of motion he is able take on several different poses.

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Sky Shadow has a very simple but hugely satisfying transformation – you pull him apart at the waist and then transform him into two separate vehicles. His upper torso switches into a jet fighter, mainly by locking in the arms, swinging the shoulder cannons into place and then pulling the nosecone down over his helmet (you can pop the Titanmaster out and rotate the helmet). Then just attach the weird tiny shield thing to his nose and you have one very aggressive jet fighter.

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The legs are a touch trickier – you’ll have to fold his feet up, then spin his shins around to reveal the tank turret halves. Fold his legs over themselves and then clip them together (if there’s one downside to this figure it’s that his tank mode is a bugger to separate and transform back into legs, due mainly to the way the two halves clip together). His tank may not have a turning turret but it is definitely one of the more convincing looking tank modes in the wider TF universe.

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For added hilarity the jet fighter can dock on top of the tank, although the design team clearly didn’t bother to overcome the problem of the tanks hatch causing the jet to lean to one side.

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Finally, like all Leader class figures he can transform into a base mode to be populated by Titanmasters – in my opinion it isn’t the most convincing base mode, and I’m sure there are those out there that have found better unofficial modes for him.

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Sky Shadow is armed with a red and silver blaster which then forms the tanks cannon in vehicle mode – in robot form it looks a bit pathetic, and we can always hope that a third party might supply a heftier weapon for him.

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So, should you buy Sky Shadow? If you can find him at the sale price of $70 at retail go for it, or try and snap him up even cheaper online – he’s a fun, imposing ‘Con that’ll look great on your shelf.Transformers Titans Return - Sky Shadow 9

Review – Mech Fans Toys Galvantron

Review – Mech Fans Toys Galvantron (Transformers)

Made by: Mech Fans Toys

Faction: Decepticon

Price at retail: Starting around $18 online

Scale/Class: Legends

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MFT are steadily churning out knock off resizes of other third party efforts, effectively focusing their efforts around companies that do legend class third party figures.

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Galvantron is a not-so-subtly named KO of Galvatron, and he certainly is a case of buy cheap, get little. He’s decked out in the traditional Galvatron colours of purple, grey, orange and a dash of red. There are hints of sprue flash left over, from where his constituent parts have been freed from the mould.

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Poseability is limited, and there’s no neat ankle joints to enable cool stances (the best he can manage is that weird bow-legged squat). Additional annoyance is triggered by the fact that his fusion cannon is mounted on his upper arm, which means his whole arm must be pointing wherever you want to aim the cannon.

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Like any other modern Galvatron his transformation is pretty simplistic – you fold up his arms and lower the treads, swing his chest section around so that his backpack becomes the front of his cannon mode, swing up his legs in a somewhat unconvincing fashion and then plug the fusion cannon into the front of him.

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If there’s one thing MFT do deserve a gold star for it’s the Matrix of Leadership accessory he comes with – you can pop it on a little beaded chain so that it can be worn around his neck or held aloft by the chain.

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Should you buy MFTs Galvantron? There are certainly bigger and better renditions of this classic character on the market, but if you just want a little Legends class Galvatron for under $20AU then this guy’s the one.

 

 

Review – Titans Return Twin Twist

Review – Titans Return Twin Twist (Transformers)

Made by: Hasbro

Faction: Autobot

Price at retail: $25-$30

Scale/Class: Deluxe

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The second of the two deluxe Autobot Wreckers to appear in Titans Return (Broadside is a Voyager class figure), Twin Twist was quickly elevated to the same status as his brother in arms. In fact, while Broadside, and other deluxe figures continue to warm shelves this pair have completely vanished from retail, only to be found now online (at least where I live).

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Twin Twist shares an almost identical design to Topspin, with the jet components being switched out for the necessary drill tank parts. Like Topspin he is a big, bulky styled deluxe in bot mode, and an equally chunky vehicle in alt-mode

Originally Twin Twist and his brother Topspin featured a motorized pullback gimmick – upon release they would whizz across the floor and pop up into their robot modes, and they were officially named Jumpstarters.

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Like all deluxes they are now mere Headmasters (or Titanmasters), which means that fans now miss the original gimmick but get a whole lot more detail and articulation.

Twin Twist is moulded in two primary colours of a somewhat teal blue and off white, but he has the inverse colour layout of Topspin, with a solid blue torso and everything else in the off white colour. Extra details have been picked out with yellow accents on his shoulders and knees, along with a dab of silver on his torso, a smidge of yellow on his head and some red trim on his knees.

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Autobot insignias are limited to two, one on his chest and the other on the nose of the cockpit in alt-mode (Just like Topspin!).

Twin Twist wields two large silver coloured blasters (Just like Topspin!), which can either combine to accommodate the Titanmaster or be stored either side of his boosters in flight (I found that my pair were unable to stay level as one would always twist upwards in its socket).

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To transform him you pop off his head, and then fold his hands into the forearm compartments, and close the panel back over them. You then swivel his chest plate and lower the cockpit section and pop the arms in either side. Finally you need to fold up his legs over his waist section and click them together, a move which proves somewhat tricky the first few times you try it (Just like Topspin!).

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Twin Twist has a somewhat more solid alt-mode due to the lack of wings (Unlike Topspin!).

Pop the Titanmaster into the cockpit and you’re ready to roll Twin Twist across your desk, making drilling noises while you go (Drilling sounds optional – just like Topspin!). He has a 3mm port on the back of his waist section, which means he is a drill tank that you can pose in midleap, drilling his drill bits into the chest of a Decepticon.

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Should you buy Twin Twist? Yes, I think so, he makes a great pairing with Topspin, and he’s one of the better deluxe scale figures in either faction (Maybe even slightly better than Topspin!).

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