Friday, November 9, 2012

MASTERPIECE SIDESWIPE! And HENCH.

I took photos of the subjects on my drafting table. Which is covered in disassembled Transformers and model parts I'm painting for very custom projects. Sorry for the clutter.

First up, a review of FALL OF CYBERTRON from my regular blog, slightly edited:



It's the sequel to War For Cybertron. Optimus Prime & crew are trying to leave Cybertron, Starscream & the Decepticons won't let them. Oh noes!

The first game was half Decepticons, then half Autobots. You blitz through it and then you go online and kill people online. This game serves the same purpose. You start off as the Autobots. Instead of choosing one of three characters per level [like you'd do in War For Cybertron], you have to play a certain character due to their special abilities or for reasons made clear near the end of the level. So no playing Sideswipe for me until I create a Sideswipe online. Once you complete this level or that level, you play a different character, and then at the sixth level you start playing the Decepticons. At some point you're Starscream and you (SPOILER) accidentally free Grimlock, and then the fun begins.

Gameplay is somewhat the same [as War For Cybertron]. You can switch firing hands and thus perspective (from your character on the left side of the screen to the right) but this is really just so you can aim from certain parts of the playing field depending on what's in the way. I'm left handed and I have a hard time focusing the character's aim when he's left handed. You also don't double jump, you jump once and then hit the dash button to get over bigger obstacles. There's a lot more "press X to...beat this this guy" kinda commands where you just hit the requested button to advance the game (see that South Park bit where Stan gives Kyle a hard time for being impressed by LA Noire, you'll get the idea).

The most positive difference is the weapon choices: they actually reduced the number of weapons (at least early on) and you get to pick which ones you want, a heavy (such as missile launcher) or light (machine gun to sniper rifle). There's a few weapons you can pick up, such as 'chaos rift' that shoot balls of who knows what that ended up being too difficult for me to use in the heat of the battle, usually because I found them in the heat of the battle. There's Teletraan stores where you can not only choose these weapons, but also upgrade them so they contain more ammo or don't shake too much while you're trying to aim, also a huge plus. Some of the weapons you'd start up with in War For or were forced to used on the situation would suck, at least for me, so it's great having the weapons I'm best at from the getgo. There's also these containers that you can use to give you the weapons you can't get at Teletraan, but these cost a lot of game money and the weapons end up as a disappointment compared to the easily accessible and usable missile launcher.

One of the selling points? You get to be Bruticus, one of the Decepticon combiners. It's for a half a level here and there but it's not that impressive. You're just this big buy blitzing through a stage and killing a bunch of little Autobots. Some people have complained about the Grimlock levels, where he can't turn into a dinosaur until you destroy a certain amount of Insecticons. I actually enjoyed that condition, and playing the cumbersome dinosaur was still a blast.

So upgrades to the limited amount of weapons, a plus. Limiting characters we can play for the story part of the game, not so much.

The game itself is pretty wild. I didn't have time to explore every corner of the level, and I got the feeling that there's more to explore this time around. I've only played two rounds of the multiplayer. I suck at it, but that's why the game exists.

I'd like a game with more exploration. Once you're done with the level, that part of the game is over. You can replay it, but you'd just be replaying the level, maybe getting an easter egg you didn't find the first run. I'd like something where you're one character you chose and you have to go back to that level you beat to find something that wasn't there the first time. Upgrade the characters as well as the weapons, and give it more actual story beyond walking around and shooting at things and occasionally (hence the title) transforming into something.


THE MEAT! MASTERPIECE LAMBOR (Sideswipe)

Sideswipe in front of the custom work area.
No, I will not be painting him.
Okay, so, the pinnacle for collecting: the Masterpiece series is supposed to be a combination of the robot mode which matches its cartoon model to a T and that also turns into a perfect version of its licensed vehicle.  Oh, and the robot is just as if not more than articulated/posable than, say, a Classics version.

If you remember from my LiveJournal (you don't) or from my own in-person ramblings, I would like a Sideswipe figure in this line. And, looks like my wishes have been answered.

Unlike other Takara TF Masterpiece releases, Sideswipe (Lambor) is all plastic, even the wheels. His shoulder cannon is white; on his original toy, it was black with a white missile, and I think I would prefer that. His gun is also silver, and that is probably more likely than a white gun, but then again how likely is a robot that turns into a car? Huh?

His head swivels; it is not on any kind of ball joint, so it just turns right and left, and does not tilt in any direction. I would think that his wide hood/chest would require some mobility in his neck to see beyond it, but I guess because his Lamborghini mode is so tightly compact, his hidden head would have no space in that mode.

Transforming him? Holy ouch. I don't think I ever looked at the directions for other Masterpieces, but I did for this one, and slowly (thinking of the horror story that is MP Megatron). His hood and the windows attached to the hood are very thin and thus seem fragile, and of course those were the toughest parts to separate from the rest of the body while greatly worrying about breaking it. I'm not sure if I will transform him back into a car.

I'm wondering if Reprolabels will offer a sticker set of any kind, as his forearms and knees look a little bare compared to his G1. I'm not sure what I dislike but something about the face/head seems off, like the head is longer than it should be (from the front to the back of his head) compared to the rest of his body, and his face seems buried by the surrounding shell (which is odd, because I've complained to those who will listen, which is no one, that the Classics and Alternator versions have heads that don't look anything like his G1 either). 

He's also...REALLY small. He's smaller than his Alternator. I know the Seekers, Grimlock, and Prime characters are all larger than the typical Autobot cars, but he doesn't seem proportionally correct to previous MPs (except maybe the most recent MP Prime, which is smaller but supposedly more accurate to his G1 cartoon embodiment).

He's still pretty cool, but I won't be getting the Red Alert MP that is being offered; will they use the car mode to one day make a Sunstreaker figure that transforms the same way his G1 did?

HENCH

3rd Party toys: 3rd Party means that a company that has no rights to the property and toyline has still gone through the trouble to create a product that will match or even enhance that product. It might be outright bootlegging (KO, or knock-off). For some companies, it's filling in that gap that the official trademark/copyright holder refuses or is unaware it needs to meet fan demand for. My introduction was Impossible Toys' Quintesson Judge. That's the five-faced guy from the Transformers (animated) movie that declared characters innocent, followed by sentencing them to death. I can't imagine where the demand came from but IT went to the trouble to make all the Quintesson characters from that movie. They also made their own Energon cubes and even an Arcee (which I have).
What you lookin' at?

3rd party figures tend to be expensive. I was personally excited about many of these but haven't gotten much because of the price. They tend to be 3-5 times pricier than their Classics contemporaries and though many are an attempt to match the Classics line, such as the Arcee I picked up from Impossible Toys, they do not have the quality control that Hasbro would (you'd think) guarantee.

Hench is the 3rd in a series of mini-warriors by iGear. Their first two figures matched G1's Huffer and Seaspray, and though the selling point was that they had posable legs and arms, they were sadly the same size of their G1 counterparts.

Hench, a rendition of G1 Brawn, is probably one of the most amazing figures produced recently, Hasbro or imitators. It's very sturdy aside from the arm popping out of the socket while transforming. The transformation is fairly complicated. He looks just like his G1 counterpart (though kinda bare, with no Autobot faction...I'm sure Reprolabels will make a set for him soon) and you can actually turn his head around to match his G1 toy face.

He's about as tall as Classics Bumblebee and priced at roughly twice the cost of a regular Hasbro TF Deluxe figure. For a figure this well done, it's actually pretty reasonable, and unlike the IT Arcee, it actually looks like Hasbro made this figure. iGear has more mini-warrior figures based on G1 toys in the works, next hopefully Cogz, aka Gears, and if that's the case, sign me up.

I have to watch out for the shoulder socket on Hench. The arm pops out nearly every time I transform it, and though it easily pops back in and stays put when I otherwise move it, I worry that the socket itself could break and that'd be the end of that. He also comes with a shotgun, which seems out of place for a character more prone to use his fists than any kind of weapon, but I imagine that iGear has plans for an Outback version (which was based on Brawn) and he was the only minicar to have a weapon.

That's it. And I mean it: until I see Fall Of Cybertron Sideswipe, no more figures. There's little else I'm interested in and want to spend money on. I already expressed my disappointment with FOC Jazz and thus I cancelled my order for FOC Bruticus. I might seem like a completest, but I'm interested in just a certain group of characters and thus their figures, and I only have so much shelf space. I will post more about some of the strange figures I find here and there, so it's not like I'm done with this blog or anything.

Thanks for reading.

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