Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Super Combo Toy Review!!

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It's been entirely too long since my last post, and for that, I apologize, to both of you. Hopefully this will be the start of many more regular posts again, but no promises. What it is though, is a review of three separate things. First are the Mechanical Chain Base display sets from Kotobukiya's MSG line, we've also got Arcee from the Transformers Animated line, and Bludgeon from the TransformersL Revenge of the Fallen line.


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So, there you have it, the Chain Bases are a generic industrial backdrop to display your robots on, or to use as a playset if that's your thing. I've been interested in them for quite some time, since I found a review of them a year or so ago, but I'd never been able to find them anywhere for a reasonable price. Fifteen to twenty dollars just seems way too much for a couple unpainted squares of plastic, that are about six inches to a side. I managed to pick these up finally at Kicks Hobby Japan for $10 each, which isn't awful. Why did I buy more than one? I'll cover that in a bit.

So, the first figure to get the benefit of the display base is Arcee from the Transformers Animated line. These are the first main stream US released figure that I'm reviewing on the blog, which feels... odd. I am a 100% unapologetic fan of the recent Transformers Animated cartoon, and the majority of the toys that accompanied it. I'm also a huge fan of any female Transformer toy that actually looks feminine, so I'm already pretty biased on this toy.

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Arcee's a futuristic sports car looking vehicle, in the cartoon she never had to adopt an Earth alternate mode, so this is her "natural" Cybertronian vehicle mode. It's a pretty solid toy, it doesn't feel like it's going to fall apart when you lift it up. I'm not sure how well it shows in the pics, but the pink plastic has silver flecks in it, in case you didn't instantly grasp that she's a girl.

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The little wing/spoiler dealies can be removed, and honestly, I think it looks better that way.


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Nothing too shocking in the transformation, and you end up with a pretty faithful representation of the cartoon character, who is also fairly articulated, like most of the Animated line.

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Back to talking about the display base, most of the bases come with foot rests for your robots to stand on, each base comes with different pieces, so whether or not you'll have ones that fit your figure is kind of a crapshoot. They attach to the base with a swiveling double peg system into any one of those holes, so you should be able to get them into the right position for your figure.

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The blue protrusions from her backpack are removable swords, for a while I was disappointed because it didn't seem like they would fit very snugly, but I just had to apply a little more force to get them to lock into place.
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The wings can be attached in robot mode, but again, I think the figure looks better without.

On to the reason that I bought multiple bases:

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They are modular, and can be attached side to side, or the walls stacked on top of each other.

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The idea was that if I bought four of the bases, I would then be able to have a display base that was a foot to a side. Unfortunately, there's one thing that I didn't realize, which is that there are actually two types of walls depending on which base you get, I got three of one, and one of the other:

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This wall piece can't be used as an extension to the other pieces, it's designed to be used as the "side" of any display that would use the other walls as the back. So, with the pieces I have, this is the best I can do:

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It doesn't look that terrible, but it does prevent me from getting the full coverage that I wanted. It is nice in that it steadies the back wall, which even at two tall starts to get a little flimsy, so if you're planning to use anymore more than that, I would highly recommend buying a few sidewalls to hold it up.


On to Bludgeon. Bludgeon is from the latest movie line, and he's proof that Hasbro actually does like to do things for their Transformers fans. In the Generation 1 continuity, Bludgeon was a pretender. He transformed into a green tank, but he also had a "Pretender Shell" that he could wear as a robot that would make him look like a skull faced, armored samurai. Don't remember Bludgeon from the cartoon? That's because he wasn't in it, the Pretenders came on the scene long after Hasbro abandoned the Transformers cartoon in favor of comics and commercials. Even then, among the pretender toys, he was among one of the more boring. Most of the other pretenders were larger, with more articulation, and more interesting transformations. Also, who came up with the idea to name a sword wielding samurai "bludgeon"? That's the one thing he really doesn't do. He probably would have faded into obscurity, if the comics hadn't shoved him into prominence, by giving him control of the Decepticon army for a few periods.

Back to the present, Bludgeon wasn't featured in the movie, and he doesn't share many of the movie design aesthetics, he seems to have been designed for the fans, out of love for the character.

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Bludgeon turns into a pretty decent tank, with a fully rotating turret.

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Here I'm going to show off a few of the random accessories the bases came with, there's the missile supply truck, a odd kind of forklift, what looks like a rolling radiator, a floodlight and then a bunch of random crates. These would probably look pretty nice if I bothered to paint them, but as it is, they just blend in with the bases too much, on account of them all being cast in the same color plastic.

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I'm not going to go into any details on his transformation, other than to note the way the tank treads detached, and became pieces of the traditional samurai styled armor. I think they did a phenomenal job of combing the themes of the actual robot and his pretender shell, and then making a modern transformer out of it. He's got decent articulation, although his armored skirt tends to get in the way a lot.

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Pulling on the gray tank barrel reveals that it's actually the hilt to his katana, which is stored in the tank turret kind of like a scabbard.


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This is a good time to point out the one accessory from the bases that I thought was really cool, which is the weapon transport truck/trailer. Again, it needs some paint to give it definition though.
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Blugeon actually has enough articulation to use a double handed grip on his sword. Also I was able to find some foot rests that fit him, and position them across the multiple floor plates, easy peasy.


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The turret ends up on his back in a solid piece, although it's not done just being a scabbard for the katana.


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It splits apart, and through a surprisingly complex and cool internal mechanism, a scabbard with a knife pops out.




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The knife can be attached to the bottom of the sword handle in order to make a blade staff weapon.
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And finally, both blades can be "sheathed" his left hip armor when not in use.

So, final conclusions:

Arcee, great and girly. Also, the first official Arcee toy to even approach her appearance in the original Generation 1 cartoon.

Bludgeon, a lot of fun, and a great homage to an underutilized old character.

The Mechanical Chain Bases? If you're looking for a good display backdrop for your figures, or take a lot of pictures of them (like I do) they're cheaper inch for inch than anything else out there, but I really wouldn't pay more than $10 for a set.

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