Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Generations Whirl

Back in the olden days of the mid 80’s, when hair was big, shoulder pads were bigger and dancing in the street looking like this was not only acceptable but encouraged by musicians who really should have known better, there were (more importantly) Transformers.

While fusing Takara’s Diaclone and Microman series together to create the core of the line, Hasbro were also busy appropriating licences from other toy manufactures to bolster the ranks of the Autobot and Decepticons.

Enter Whirl.

Hailing from the Armored Trooper Dorvack series, the toy originally known as Ovelon Gazzette was given a new lease of life in his tech specs by Bob Budiansky as a reckless, faux crazy, wild flying Autobot. It’s a nice character template, ripe for development.. except it didn’t happen.

Whirl never appeared in the cartoon. His appearances were limited to the Marvel comic where he was introduced as one of the (soon to be) fan favourite Wreckers. But his was a low key, minor role.

Of course, being a background character full of brooding potential is guaranteed to get you noticed by more industrious folk. And the good people at IDW comics have let Whirl leave an indelible mark on their universe.

Past form meant he was destined to bag a cameo in the Roche/Roberts penned Last Stand Of The Wreckers, but the guy made more of an impact through his (violent) unnamed appearance in the trades accompanying prose story 'Bullets'.

Depending on who's telling the tale

He then cropped up in a massively pivotal (and violent) role in the pre war tale Chaos Theory.

And then became one of the main draws in More Than Meets The Eye. Egotistical yet broken, sociopathic, tragically flawed and incredibly funny.  

James Roberts, take a bow.

(And yes, he’s violent in it.)

Off the back of this notoriety comes the toy. 

One thing I will say right from the start is that Whirl feels like a ton of effort has gone into making him.
While cost cutting is happening across the board, this one seems like the designers blocked, countered and won the fight. He's solid, made of excellent materials, and comes with four lots of attachable weaponry and a sticker sheet to reference the original toy.

Whirl's helicopter mode is decent if flawed. The biggest offender is the robot thighs up front. It's not so much them being there as I can see what they're meant to be doing aesthetically, it's the gaps they leave either side of the cockpit.

Having said that, there's plenty to appreciate here.

Proper nice colours, the blue plastic is both baby and darker metallic. The blue metallic paint nails the plastic colour pretty much dead on. Details aplenty. Rivets everywhere.

And it's a love letter to the G1 design (the stickers increase this, I haven't applied many).
Copter blades use the same yellow as G1 Whirl did. He has the skis. Even the shoulders end up where they do on the original toy. These design homages will be this figure's blessing and curse.

You can add Whirl's plentiful artillery to the Helicopter mode.

You may hum Airwolf's theme while thinking of blue Pampers for boys.. NOW

One of the toy's selling points is a third mode.

Like ED-209 with a discount Dalek upgrade


Bear in mind I am one those heretics that dismiss the Macross gerwalk modes as a half arsed thing, so don't expect any gushing here. It just looks like a helicopter halfway through transforming into a robot.
It is a dedicated mode though, with two transformation steps that commit to it so I can't say it's an afterthought. It's just not this Manfish's bag.

Pretty straightforward to transform, another legs fold down, arms swing out affair with some folding and compressing at the back. Just take care with the tight joints beneath the thigh swivel. 

Whirl cuts an impressive figure. The colours suggest a friendly good guy. The rest? Well...

Guns, guns guns!

..fairly unique aesthetically, he has claws instead of hands and is packing those controversial since '07 chicken legs along with massive hooves and a cyclopean visage.
You can attach the weaponry to ports underside his forearms as well as clip them onto his legs.
He's not a particularly welcoming looking individual.
And I like it.

Though it did take a bit. 

And this is in no way any fault of the toy, rather an appreciation for his current comic book form over the choice of homage. What we have here in the (very) blue corner is a fantastic update of the G1 toy, while over there in the red is MTMTE's spindly spiky Geth wannabe.

But the more I fiddled, the more I thawed. He's a lot of fun to pose, packs a ton of gun and the head and legs call out to the current comic design.

Those thin gangly shoulders the instructions leave you with can actually be pushed into the chest.
This makes them tighter for holding poses and improves Whirl proportionally. You can find a sweet spot doing it that lets you still freely use the ball joint and gives him some brilliant arm articulation. 

Be careful with the legs. His thigh joints are incredibly tight and there have been reports of breakage. 
I haven't broken mine. I am a clumsy, hamfisted guy too. Mileage may vary here. Just take your time with those joints. 


For a dude with no face, Whirl manages to pack in plenty of character from both the poses you can put him in and the difference in aesthetics to the other Transformers in your collection. He's not gone behind glass yet and that's a big thing for me.

Happy. Angry. Sad. Confused.
Feel the emotion!

And if you truly hate the chicken legs you can spin 'em out for a more traditional look.

Bottom line, I'm glad I bought the nutjob. 

The definition of a grower, Generations Whirl packs in an impressive homage to the characters roots while still throwing in elements of the current IDW design that people are so enamoured with. Top stuff.

Time to weapon up, wallflowers!


Whirl tech spec and G1 box art courtesy of Botch the Crab's awesome site.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Maketoys Trash-Talk & Cogwheel

I have a lot of time for 3rd Party Transformers.

Having said that, there are so many of them these days it's pretty damn easy to get swamped in a mire of multiple releases, and the trend these days seems to be multiple releases of the same characters.

Take this IDW comic inspired twin pack by Maketoys in their 'Manga Mech Series'.

iGear already have their analogues of Swerve and Gears on the market, SXS have their Continuously Variable and its comedy retool. And lets not forget that we also have the considerably cheaper Hasbro releases in the Generations line.

So what makes this worthy of consideration?

In a nutshell, it is excellent.

The biggest selling point in this set is undoubtedly Trash-Talk, an homage to the G1 character Swerve, a character relatively few were aware of until master-scribe James Roberts took the metallurgist under his wing and gave him a standout role in the More Than Meets The Eye comic

If you've read MTMTE, you'll know why Maketoys gave him the moniker of Trash-Talk.
If you haven't, get it sorted, pour a large glass of your favourite tipple then come back and thank me.

(As an aside, when you buy the pair, they come to you packaged in a box that contains a box containing another box. That's almost another MTMTE reference right there.)

Both toys share the same mold with tooling differences in both modes.

Starting with the vehicles, Trash-Talk is dead on to the source. Cogwheel...well we haven't seen Gears in alt mode yet but Maketoys have done a good job of making him look Cybertronian while referencing his G1 vehicle mode.

Small but perfectly formed

Everything is well pegged together, clearance from the ground prevents any scraping and while these are small (you're talking slightly larger than a Commander class figure) they look sharp and the colours are spot on. Accessories can be pegged into alt mode.

Alcohol storage
As a little extra injection of character into the vehicle mode, Trash-Talk's canopy can open to reveal an optic on a stalked ball joint.

You can open Cogwheel's hood to reveal a rounded pair of lights.
It's a lovely little touch.

Transformation is a standard fold out the legs, flip out the arms, extend the forearms, fold in the wheels affair.
That's to be expected at this size but I'm glad Maketoys didn't over complicate the process.
It works, and it's easy, and you go back to doing it a lot more than with your average 3P figure.

One fly in that ointment though, is when initially pegging in the wrists. It is tight. Teeth gnashingly tight before you know how to do it. Carefully applied pressure either side of the hand will work. If you want to pop off the hands for a bit of room, feel free, they will go straight back on.

Subsequent transformations have seen this issue fade to practically nothing. 

Robot modes, and this is where these guys utterly shine.

Trash-Talk looks like he walked out of the pages of the comic. Grinning from auditory sensor to auditory sensor, he oozes character. The silver paint that picks out his vented details is a welcome addition to the dominant white and red.

I would have preferred to see the visor painted, as lightpiping with no means of the light getting through to actually pipe is a bit of a waste, really.

Apparently Cogwheel is harder to balance - I respectfully disagree

Despite being a retool and redeco, Cogwheel manages to look like his own character and there is no doubt you are looking at Gears. Again, his comic appearances have been slim on the ground but from what I've seen it's doing a decent job of pulling off an IDW styled Gears. I like him a lot but he wasn't the draw of the set.

Articulation on these little fellas is genuinely excellent.

You're going to regret that

I mean it.

You've got ball jointed and hinged shoulders, bicep swivels, ratcheted elbows and ball jointed wrists.
Ball jointed head, ball jointed waist.
Ball jointed hips, thigh swivels, ratcheted knees and ball jointed ankles.

It allows for some serious fun in posing them, although the heads are difficult to turn with man sized fingers and the hands can pop off easily.

Told you

As you can see, in addition to the two figures you also get a few accessories.

Trash-Talk comes with his drinks tray and a few drinks (he becomes the owner of a bar in MTMTE), the Shoomer weapon and the resulting effects of mishandling the Shoomer (that being an alternate, skull face).

Cogwheel comes with two heads, one toy accurate, one comic accurate and what looks suspiciously like the Rivet Gun from issue 6.

Yeah, this won't end well either 

While pricey, this release has got class, quality and character.

Maketoys products have a reputation for being top notch and this is no different.

The plastic is great, the paint apps are crisp and clean and the joints are good and sturdy.

Highly recommended. And hopefully the first of many more to come in the 'Manga Mech Series'.

Not even the prospect of free booze was enough to put a smile on Yanigerswipe's face

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

MP-12G Lambor G-2 Ver (Or G2 Sideswipe to me and you).

In 1992 the 'Robots In Disguise' came crashing back onto the shelves looking like they had taken their war to a paintball tournament by way of a rave. Genius or insanity or a dash of both at whisky fueled late night Hasbro meetings?

While the line introduced new molds such as the Rotor Force and Lazer Rod toys, and gave us the Cyberjets (which were the forerunners of the great articulation we became accustomed to from Beast Wars onwards), Generation 2 launched with a series of repainted and gunned up classic '84 and '85 characters.

Naturally there was a TV show to accompany this. The original cartoon was aired with a new CGI intro and cutaways. 

Then there was the  Generation 2 comic. A balls out, guns blazing, OTT kill fest that reveled in the excesses of its time.

And this is where the newest Masterpiece comes in.

Using the well received MP-12 Lambor mold, MP-12G comes roaring out of the box in an eye catching deco that is impossible not to look at and swoon.


It's a licensed Lamborghini Countach LP500S in high gloss black paint with blood red translucent windows. And it looks gorgeous.

You can attach the robot modes weaponry in one handy package to the car roof.
It's comic accurate too.

Car porn meets gun porn

MP-12G comes with a sticker set so that you can present your figure in either toy or comic deco (I opted for something in between, although that neon green is so so tempting).

G2. Where everybody knows your name

Transformation to the robot mode is a fairly straightforward affair, the legs being the complex side of it but one you have the order of things in place it becomes a breeze to switch back and forth.

And you will want to. 

Because MP-12G looks amazing in both modes.

That balls out, guns blazing OTT kill fest I was speaking about? That's G2 Sidewipe in a nutshell.
And the robot mode encapsulates pretty much everything about the characters presentation in the comic perfectly.

While missing the bandolier, bazooka and grenade, we do get the spiked shoulder wheels (non functional in vehicle mode, alas), two big guns, the huge blade and the snarl.

I'm always angry

Yes, Derek Yaniger's grimacing, angry, gun toting Sideswipe is nailed here. I can see how this may be divisive for some, especially those unfamiliar with the source. Kind of stands out among the Masterpiece Transformers released so far.

But it was this that sold the figure to me despite owning two versions of the mold already.

It's a welcome shot of personality into the MP lines stoic face sculpts and I find myself drawn to MP-12G constantly to pose and fiddle about with. 

This is one of the good guys? 

Whilst the paint job in vehicle mode was flawless, I did notice some spotty paintwork on one of the guns and feet. The foot is only visible during transformation though.
The gun is disappointing but I have not seen anybody else come forward with the same issue.
And despite being the fourth use of the mold, all the joints are nice and tight here.

All in all, a glorious combination of deco, relatively obscure homage, sticker set, personality and accessories make this figure a bit of a win in my book.

And if he doesn't fit in with your Masterpieces he certainly looks the part with another trigger happy nutjob.

'Know what I like best about Nails?'