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Everything posted by Maz

  1. It’s very common now for Transformers discussion taking place on online forums or social media to be centred around Masterpiece or 3rd Party Masterpiece figures, with a ton of other excellent lines, initiatives, aesthetics or size classes receiving less attention or taking a back seat in people’s buying or interest. I myself wrote recently about how important it is to be even more focused than ever, and the article was primarily about the above two categories. This week, I let a few collectors remind us of the benefits and appeal of looking beyond Masterpiece and 3rd Party Masterpiece figures. Having covered Generation 1, Animated and Movie toys myself in the not-too-distant past, our contributors look at City bot-scale TFs, Unicron Trilogy era toys, Legends-class 3rd Party figures and current mainline series figures. A Gentle Reminder | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  2. Maz

    Who Is Blaze?

    Third Party company BadCube (formerly Cubex) had previously mainly tackled Generation 1 minibots such as Huffer (Huff), Brawn (Brawny), Outback (Backland) and Warpath (Wardog). Evil Bug Corps (Insecticons) aside, they took an enormous step towards being a headline event with OTS-08 Sunsurge, their take on Autobot car Sunstreaker in the Masterpiece style and scale. The Autobot cars are massively popular still, and the Masterpiece Transformers have proven to be as desirable as anything else around. Being the first company to get a legitimately MP-style Sunstreaker on the market ensured Sunsurge's success. Now, BadCube have repainted the modified yellow Lamborghini Countach into its red predecessor, known widely as the Diaclone "Red Sunstreaker"- named BadCube Old Timer Series Special 01 - Sentinel Blaze. I'm going to have a brief look at this upcoming figure, explain its history and significance because it excites me hugely, and needs some defending. Much as I felt the need to address the question Who Is Tigertrack for the Masterpiece release in 2013, let us now ask Who is Blaze? Who is Blaze? | Square One <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  3. Forager makes three! The Masterpiece-styled evil insect robot team is finished and man alive, they look complete together. This pre-release review sample, FT-14 Forager test shot to be precise, rounds out the team of three bugs within 8 months of Grenadier first introducing us to FansToys’ take on this popular set. By the time it sees release in June, it will still have been less than a year since FT-12 hit the market. Grenadier was a real hit with me, but Mercenary took longer to love thanks to a total pain of a transformation, so where does Forager sit? FansToys FT-14 Forager | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  4. Now the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum. FansToys have ensured that Masterpiece-style collectors have an option other than just MakeToys Gundog or TFC’s effort when it comes to the chirpy green heroic jeep Transformer who was once meant to be the main human-loving TF liaison before Bumblebee. Criticisms of prior 3rd party efforts to nail this character in the expected aesthetic led to much excitement when FansToys revealed they were stepping into the Car Robot arena. With ongoing doubts about FT’s ability to sculpt a screen accurate head for their figures, FT-15 Willis was no different during its pre-production reveal. How did the almost final thing turn out? FansToys FT-15 Willis | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  5. Imagine a relatively complete collection of Generation 1 Transformers from about 1984 to 1988. An impressive sight and a wonderful achievement. Now imagine that same collection in the form of prototypes, test shots, first shots, packaging samples, hand-painted mock-ups and pre-release box/catalogue/Toyfair photo subjects. Throw in the rarest production Diaclone, Micro Change, Generation 1, Minibots, TF Juniors, Kabaya kits, Lucky draw/Campaign prizes and Takara watches in existence, season it with original vintage G1 box artwork, animation bibles, storyboards, unreleased G2 Transformers, and you have one of the most unique, well-respected, breathtaking and landmark collections in the history of the hobby. One day there might be an essential series of books about the significance of Ras’ collected treasures – literally the history of the Transformers toy brand – but for now here’s his interview and a majority of his collection display. Collector Interview 46 – Ras | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  6. I’ve often said that simply buying, amassing and displaying toys is not enough to sustain my interest and passion for Transformers as a hobby. I’ve spent many years researching variants, writing articles, photographing toys and trying to unearth unknown facets of the global Transformers and pre-Transformers history since joining the community. Much of my writing in the last year or two has become geared towards new figure reviews, with vintage Transformer articles becoming rarer as my budget and priorities have shifted unpredictably. With my collection of toys seemingly resembling the converging direction of many others’, I felt like I needed to find further ways of keeping things interesting. I’m focusing on Masterpiece for this article because they’re probably a lot more removed from the idea of straightforward children’s toys than most of the other Transformers product we have today, in the minds of collectors. Play With Your Toys | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  7. Headmasters, Targetmasters, Powermasters. The Transformers gimmick juggernaut powered on through 1987 to 1988, bringing us the first reincarnation of Optimus Prime, a smaller range of Headmasters and Targetmasters (smaller toys, too) and introducing us to the concept of Powermaster-activated transformations. While Takara in Japan really broke off at a tangent and introduced Super God Masterforce, the Hasbro range of Headmasters (Takara versions referred to as Headmaster Juniors) – especially the Autobots – evolved into a slightly different concept compared to their legendary 1987 predecessors. This week we look at Autobot Headmasters Siren, Nightbeat and Hosehead together with their Nebulan partners. You can also have a look back at our previous articles on 1987 Autobot Headmasters, Targetmasters and Monsterbots as well as 1987 Decepticon Headmasters, Headmaster Horrorcons and Targetmasters for some background on the ‘New Direction’ Transformers went in that year. With the imminent Transformers Titans Return toy line set to feature 1988 Headmaster characters among others, what better time to revisit the original inspiration? 1988 Autobot Headmasters | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  8. I have already written articles on the importance of discipline, occasional sacrifice and priorities in Transformers collecting on this blog, but I feel things have changed enough recently to warrant a second look at how I collect. Before it was a case of maybe choosing the toy lines and styles I liked, collecting those and cutting back on impulse or peripheral, tangential toy purchases. Now, it is becoming hard to even collect all the moulds – never mind repaints – of the same line. So, it’s time to focus. Focus! | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  9. Masterpiece MP-28 Hot Rodimus is almost upon us. A new Masterpiece Hot Rod. The build up to this figure’s release has been a mix of anticipation and divided opinion. As with most new Masterpiece moulds, as a fandom we have pored over the prototype and promotional images from every angle, analysed every possible flaw and possibly already decided which side of the fence we stand on. The previous TakaraTomy attempt at the definitive Hot Rodimus/Rodimus Convoy was MP-9, a figure riddled with issues – issues unique to every version and release of the mould. This MP-28, therefore, has a great deal of hope and pressure riding on its shoulders as a majority of the fandom still crave that perfect Masterpiece Hot Rod, a character whose place in Transformers lore is up there with the likes of Optimus Prime, Megatron and Starscream thanks to Transformers: The Movie from 1986. Having never owned MP-9 Rodimus Convoy, in a way I needed this MP-28 to be definitive even more, as an MP-9 is out of my range these days. Masterpiece MP-28 Hot Rodimus | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  10. Mastermind Creations, under the guise of Masterpiece-focused Ocular Max branding, have introduced a sub-line into that sub-line! The Remix line begins with RMX-01 Jaguar, a figure that homages the Generation 1 Decepticon cassette Ravage. Now why bother launching a line with something already covered by the official TakaraTomy Masterpiece collection? For a start, not everyone seems to share my high opinion of MP Ravage, it's true to say some actually dislike the figure thoroughly. While the MP Ravage is scaled to a micro cassette like the original G1 rendition and fits inside MP Soundwave's chest, Ocular Max believed that it was too small in kitty mode. Their reasons for developing this product are for a better experience in transformation and posing, as well as scaling with other associated Masterpiece figures like Soundwave in jaguar mode. For the moment, this has been offered as a Planet Steel Express exclusive. Square One: Ocular Max Remix RMX-01 Jaguar All the best Maz
  11. Has there ever been a greater case of pre-release doubts being so comprehensively crushed by in-hand production toy as with TakaraTomy’s MP-27 Masterpiece Ironhide? Actually yes, look at Ultra Magnus, Bumblebee etc, so it’s not uncommon for us to get the wrong impression from TakaraTomy’s stock Masterpiece photography. Ironhide’s a very interesting case. As a character he’s huge and unforgettable, voiced originally by the revered Peter Cullen, but it’s almost as if his original Generation 1 Transformers toy being such a disappointment to many cast a shadow decades wide over his associated toys. MP-27 puts those disappointments to bed in comprehensive fashion and takes an impressive shot at becoming the definitive G1 Ironhide toy of our lifetimes. MP-27 Ironhide – The Best Masterpiece Yet? | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  12. Having been in the making for something like 4 years, a hefty lead time even for the most sedate 3rd party release schedule, Mastermind Creations’ Reformatted R-11 Seraphicus Prominon is ready to be released. The Moritorus Sovereign, as the box calls him, is almost an amalgamation of characters from the Aligned continuity and the IDW universe of Transformers going by the aesthetics of the core robot and the armoured bot respectively. Whether that was the designer’s original intention or not is another matter, but that’s certainly how it appears when each element is studied individually. First teased in 2012, MakeToys have since released Hypernovae who references the same character, but MMC finally unleash their own version, which at around $200, is not exactly a cheap alternative. Let’s see if it was worth the wait and the cost. MMC Seraphicus Prominon | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  13. Cheers man, only one way to change that! :) All the best Maz
  14. MakeToys MTRM-05 Wrestle (Masterpiece Grapple) FULL review and Gallery now live! Square One: MakeToys MTRM-05 Wrestle (MP Grapple) All the best Maz
  15. FT-13 Mercenary is FansToys’ second evil insect after FT-12 Grenadier, and has a lot to live up to thanks to the success of the latter. Based on what was originally called a lamellicorn type beetle insect robot, Mercenary recreates the look of the original toy and on-screen inspiration. With die cast, chrome and clear plastic chest flaps a staple of FansToys’ Masterpiece-style bugs, a collector could either leave the figures stock and enjoy the cartoon accurate look or go full G1 toy-centric. Grenadier’s success was based on good quality, a lovely finish, fun transformation, multiple display options and a very good looking accurate evil insect/robot which was faithful to the source material – albeit with two releases to cater for which source material a person saw as greater priority. Mercenary has similar toy and cartoon appearances, so only one release was necessary. Mercenary | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  16. Francesco Lombardi is the kind of collector I had always heard about but never met. Someone who never participated in the online or collective fandom, but was privately growing a hugely comprehensive and impressive collection featuring toys I had never seen. Dealers used to tell me about their secret customers, customers like Francesco, all the time. Now, Francesco wants to share his collection, and it’s a very special achievement. I have always loved the Canadian G1 variants, if for nothing else than just their different packaging, and Francesco has put together a near complete run of Generation 1 in Canadian boxes with variants I’ve never seen before – even if I knew they existed. It fills me with joy to know at least one Canadian G1 collection like this exists. With just one (large) or two gaps left to fill, enjoy the collecting history of this classic old-school style G1 fan and the rewards that his work ethic has brought him from a young age. Collector Interview 45 – Francesco Lombardi | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  17. The Transformers Masterpiece line by Takara Tomy has, to my eternal happiness, continued with the Diaclone homages and MP-14C Clampdown is the latest in that sub-line. This police car version of the Lamborghini New Countach LP500S Autobot Sideswipe was originally a Takara Diaclone figure from 1983, the original inspiration for what would later become the Autobot Fire Chief "Red Alert". Coming full circle after all this time, Clampdown is in fact designated MP-14C, meaning it is a direct repaint of MP-14 Red Alert. The first time the Diaclone New Countach was given Transformers form as "Clampdown" was the E-Hobby exclusive reissue repaint, alongside "Deep Cover". Let's have a look at how the recently released Masterpiece version stacks up. All this and more, a mini MP Clampdown review and article :) Square One: Masterpiece MP-14C Clampdown All the best Maz
  18. The battle has been joined proper, with 3rd party companies left, right and centre putting out figures to fill gaps in Masterpiece collections. BadCube had already released Huff, Brawny, Backland, Wardog and the Evil Bug Corps, but Sunsurge is arguably their most ambitious stab at a slice of the MP market so far. For some time competing with Omnigonix’s Spinout (don’t get me started on that name), Sunsurge has comprehensively won the race to be the first MP-style release to homage the unforgettably yellow, self-adoring, other half of the most famous set of Cybertronian twins, Lamborghini Countach LP500S Super Tuning. To say that Sunsurge has been well received by collectors is an understatement. Everywhere you look, people are raving about what a great job BadCube have done and how it is comprehensively their best figure to date. I’m now ready to give my own opinion on that. Sunstruck | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  19. I often meet new collectors during these interviews and form friendships as we go through the process, but every now and again I get the special opportunity to interview someone I consider a friend. I have known Gordon Yip for many years, and have stared in awe as his collection of unique and ridiculously rare pre-Transformers grew over a decade and more. Finally, Gordon moved into a home worthy of housing a display for his toys, and he can finally share with us his wisdom and his one of a kind collection. While Gordon’s isn’t the biggest or most complete pre-TF collection I know of, it is my favourite. What Gordon has, most of us will never see again, let alone own. It’s always the icing on the cake when the man behind the collection is a wonderful person, and they do not make them more wonderful, generous or selfless than Gordon Yip. Enjoy. Collector Interview 44 – Gordon Yip | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  20. Mastermind Creations continue to do that which many others dare not, explore the realm of the current IDW Transformers comic universe and give us figures of characters that Hasbro never will. No Masterpiece mimicking here, no hundredth version of the same character or combiner, but instead we have toys of characters seen sparingly in the comics. That is not to say evil buggers Anarchus and Commotus were bit part and forgettable, quite the opposite, but from a handful of memorable appearances to actual 3rd party product with not insignificant price tags? We should applaud and thank MMC for these. Comic Book Villains (MMC Anarchus & Commotus) | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  21. Well, 2016 is off to an excellent start! FansToys, 3rd Party makers of toys that aim to unofficially complete your Masterpiece Transformers collection, bring us the fourth in their series of Iron Dibots, transforming dinosaurs not completely unlike those Dinobot fellows you may have heard of. FT-07 is Stomp, the brontosaurus of the five-member team, following Scoria, Soar and Sever. It has been clear that FansToys have improved every release so that the newest Dibot is a little better than the last, and Stomp is absolutely no exception. This pre-release test shot Stomp demonstrates that FT have learned lessons from those previous releases, and applied them successfully to this absolute beast of a figure. Stomp is wow factor incarnate. Stomp! (FansToys FT-07 Stomp) | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  22. Without any sort of hesitation or doubt, I can gladly cite 2015 as the year with the most impressive official and unofficial Transformers releases that I have ever experienced. In previous years for my Top 5 of the year article, I have not just included purchases of toys released in that year, but also vintage figures that I may have purchased, but I just cannot afford to do that this year if I want to stick to any semblance of a top 5. TakaraTomy, Hasbro, FansToys, MakeToys, MMC, BadCube, DX9, Unique Toys and co have put out a quite unbelievable range of figures in 2015. Top 5 Purchases of 2015 | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  23. Discovering overlooked parts of Generation 1 is a finite experience for me, but one that I treasure and value, because of how quickly it can be over forever. The 1987 Autobot Monsterbots are one of the most bewilderingly pleasurable discoveries I have made in the last year, toys that I had mentally written off as not for me, and mistakenly believed to be 1988. It turns out I had even once owned a complete set of the Monsterbots over a decade ago and had completely forgotten about until I dug up photos last week. The Monsterbots – made up of Doublecross, Repugnus and Grotusque – are gems from 1987, the start of the gimmick era and possibly the best year for vintage Transformers ever. 1987 Autobot Monsterbots | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  24. The Mapes twins, known throughout the global Transformers community, have built a Transformers museum. Not content with the regular 12 to 15 photos used in our collector interviews, David and Steve’s collection requires a full complement of 36 images for us to properly appreciate the scale of their Transformers and collectibles show home, including a world-beating selection of campaign/Lucky Draw Transformers. Beyond the amassing of toys, the twins have contributed hugely to the convention scene in the UK as well as other well known collectible brand communities and projects. Regular and friendly faces at Auto Assembly and online, please take a seat and enjoy a wonderful journey through (most of) their spectacular collection. Collector Interview 43 – David & Steve Mapes | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
  25. Is it better than MakeToys Visualizers? No matter what else gets covered in this review of FansToys FT-11 Spotter - their stab at a Masterpiece version of a well known transforming evil 3-guy camera - that first question is one I have been asked non-stop since teasing my first image of the review last week, and one that a number of purchases depend on for people. Not necessarily my answer to that question, but generally. Many collectors may have held off buying the MakeToys Visualizers because they needed to see how Spotter turned out. This is not surprising as FansToys have tended to be the go-to 3rd party company for Masterpiece style figures, and the Visualizers were not hands-down winners for everyone on release. Let's see if we can answer that burning question, as well as everything else we need to know about FT-11. Spot On (FansToys FT-11 Spotter) | Source Blog <- CLICK TO READ All the best Maz
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