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2018 – Studio Series

Transformers – Studio Series – Rampage

The second in the multipart, multiyear release of figure from Hasbro to produce an accurate Revenge of the Fallen Devastator is Studio Series Rampage. The first release was Studio Series Scrapmetal, who was a pretty good all around transformer, and sort of an original character for Studio Series, who didn’t get a release in the original Revenge of the Fallen line. Rampage here is a little different though, he was a leg for the old Devastator that didn’t have individual robot modes and he got a single packed Deluxe release that didn’t come with a limb mode.

Rampage is also notable as one of the few Constructicons with actual screen time in the movie beyond becoming part of the whole. He kidnaps Sam’s parents in Paris (or wherever) because a bulldozer driving through a European city isn’t conspicuous AT ALL. Later he shows up again to pogo around the desert in a death match against Bumbebee, who rips the spine out of Ravage and beats Rampage to death with it.

The Pogo mode is the most interesting aspect of this guy really. He doesn’t have any sort of traditional legs at all, not even optional ones, just a monopod leg and a stand for the toy to keep itself upright. His bod does have a few joints to let it compress and look sort of springy, but his neck and head are kind of limited and he can’t really crouch too much without looking weird.

He also has two huge claw arms, but the articulation is really limited. All of the joints are pretty much fingers or near the shoulder, so the longest part just sticks out all weird and straight looking.

Other problems? Oh yeah. On mine, he head pops off super easy, partially due to the way it ball sockets on to the join sort of in the back. He also had some trad bits that hang off his arms to emulate the character’s whips in the movie, but there isn’t enough joints or length to make them look particularly cool in any poses. Especially with the limited arm articulation.

Rampage does have a lot of nice little details all over his body, he looks cool, he just, doesn’t DO much. He looks like he will make a pretty amazing Devastator leg one day. Fortunately, from what we have seen so far of the other Devastator limbs, he looks like he is going to be the most compromised and weakest design, so it can only really go up from here. As a stand alone toy, Rampage is pretty weak unfortunately.

Transformers – Studio Series – Scrapmetal

So, for the most part, the Michael Bay Transformers movies are pretty trash. Mostly for the shitty plots, but Revenge of the Fallen is particularly bad. One thing it did have that was pretty cool though was Devastator. In general, I do like the Bayverse/Movieveerse designs, and the take on Devastator was pretty interesting. Though the Revenge of the Fallen toy line was full of some of the most complex Transformers ever produced, the only full on Devastator is produced was Legends scaled. There were individual figures of most of the components that had robots and vehicles, and there was a large combined figure that only had parts that turned into vehicles, no robots.

Hasbro has decided to remedy that with Studio Series, by putting out a new Devastator, across eight figures, that all have robot modes and vehicle modes. There were 6 components to the previous version with vehicles only and Seven in the Legends sized one, which added a vehicle to create the pelvis and back. This new iteration is taking things a bit farther, following the pattern from the Legends sized version, but splitting one of the arms into two separate toys.

Scrapmetal is one of those two arm characters. He’s technically the only “new” character of the set, since Hightower (the crane) has almost made up the arm on the previous toys. This figure more or less forms the hand.

Scapmetal turns into a small excavator. The primary driver in Studio Series is robot mode scale so the excavator is pretty small, but there are some small er versions of this particular vehicle out there. The vehicle is a little small compared to old style Deluxes but looks alright next to other Studio Series. The transformation doesn’t allow the top to rotate independently of the treads unfortunately.

Transformation is pretty straight forward but has a few neat little tricks. There’s some fun asymmetry to the way the arms fold in together to form the top part of the vehicle mode. The legs pretty much just collapse and fold up underneath. He has a little removable shield thing that mostly exists to cover a few gaps in the vehicle mode, which is a little cheaty.

The robot is pretty normal as well, at least for Movie Constructicon standards. The other initial release is Rampage who stands on a single Pogo Leg, but other highlights of the Constructicons include Hightower, who turns into a sort of Velociraptor, and Demolishor who is a pair of arms on giant wheels.

One neat little bit if you want to fancy him up a bit, his legs have the option of working as “normal knees” or can knock back and become Digigrade legs. Probably the main disappointment is that there isn’t really anything fun his crane arm can do in robot mode. You can swing it up between his legs like a huge phallus but that’s not super useful really. He also has a lot of neat little extra detail. The biggest stand out is the treading detail inside his back, that doesn’t serve any purpose in either mode. I imagine in the combined form it will be more visible for some added detailing.

Scrapmetal really has me excited for the test of this team. He looks like he’ll probably be comparably sized to the old Revenge of the Fallen Devastator, but with a lot more detail and more functional articulation. I also kind of like that these are being released over time, since it gives me a chance to spread out what is essentially a $200 purchase over a couple of years.

Transformers – Studio Series – Bumblebee (VW)

The latest Transformers Movie, Bumblebee, takes things back more to the original roots of Transformers.  It features G1 versions of a lot of the characters and the main character, Bumblebee, takes the form of a Volkswagen Beetle like he had in the original 80s cartoon.  The movie isn’t getting it’s own toyline but is instead being looped in with the Studio Series line.  The first figure from the new films is Bumblebee himself though in many cases, Dropkick from the followup wave is also showing up with him.

The new Bee reminds me a lot of Studio Series Jazz in that he is really tiny in both modes.  This feels a lot more appropriate given it’s Bumblebee, who was one of the smallest Autobots in the original G1 series.  It does make the $20 price point for deluxe Transformers a little hard to swallow but he has a few little parts that help make it feel more worthwhile.  The robot is pretty nice, though he has a huge backpack that feels like it should collapse on itself a bit more, but doesn’t really seem to without pushing the plastic beyond what feels comfortable.  The legs also are a little funny in that they feel like they should peg together better but don’t seem to. 

The design itself is very reminiscent of the old Camero Bumblebee design from the last few Michael Bay Transformers movies.  The way the layered chest lays and the panels fall on his legs and the door wings sit on his back, these elements are all very Movie Bumblebee.  The Door wings aren’t very accurate to the film though, where the doors seem to do some mass shifting and point downward instead of becoming wings. 

I mentioned he comes with some extras to help offset his cost.  Specifically, he has an alternative face plate for his “Battle Mask” look and a swap-able arm piece for his arm cannon.  There’s also a blade weapon which can attach to the side of any of the three forearm pieces.  These sort of swap out parts aren’t a real common things for Transformers.  Having them, it’s kind of clear why.  The canon arm falls off a lot more easily than the standard hand arm and the Mask face falls off if you look at it funny.  These are definitely parts which will become lost over time by some.

The transformation is pretty straightforward in it’s execution, though fairly complex.  Its a pain to get everything to massage together properly, partially I think because it’s such a small figure.  The legs and back piece are particularly problematic and I can’t see anything obviously out of place like the hidden peg on the underside of Jazz’s roof that just made everything sit right in place once engaged.

The VW Beetle looks alright aside from things not quite sitting together properly.  The vehicle does feel a little funny because the G1 Bumblebee, was very much a stylized chibified VW.  This Bee feels too long, though I’m sure he’s not for a real Beetle.

Cutting to the chase here, I think that Studio Series Bumblebee is alright, but I kind of wonder what the wider audience is for him.  He’s too complex and finicky for kids, and there are plenty of simpler options out there.  He doesn’t really mesh well for collectors.  I don’t have it but I suspect the pricier Masterpiece Movie Bee does everything slightly better and he probably looks better.  I suppose if you’re in the middle like me and don’t really need a super classy Bee but don’t want something overly simplified this version does the job, but if you want a perfect VW Movie Bee, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.


Transformers – Studio Series – Jazz

Studio Series is a line that I wish I were more excited about.  I just really don’t have a need or interest in updated versions of most of the Movie Transformers.  I had heard a lot of good things about Jazz, and the only other version of Jazz was the one from the first movie, which wasn’t a bad toy but not super great.  After finding him on sale, I decided to go ahead and pick him up, though I was a little worried about his size.

The size of this figure is definitely the most noticeable thing.  Jazz is one tiny toy.  Part of this stems from the push for robot mode scale that I mentioned in the Studio Series Blackout review.  He sort of feels like a not so great value next to other figures, especially with the price bump.  He includes a pretty large weapon, but it doesn’t really make up for the lack of plastic.  Granted, there’s more to a transformer than how much material it’s made of.  Jazz makes up for his lack of size a bit with his very nice looking shinny paint job.  He also has a pretty neat transformation.

His robot mode is small, his car mode feels absolutely tiny.  It helps a bit that the Pontiac Solstice he is based on is a fairly small car, but it is barely larger than a basic scaled Transform.  Even as a small car, it looks out of place next to other deluxe sized Transformers, including previous Movie based characters.  It looks really nice at least.  On a related note as well, getting things to all mesh together can be a little tricky, there is a peg on the underside of the roof that needs to be pegged in first before almost any other step.  Going back to robot mode has a few little quirks, the head is a pain to pull up out of it’s little hole.  I do really like how the chest transforms however, the way the whole thing rolls over and clips upside down is really neat and not something that has been done in Transformers that I recall.  The front of the car also pops out to flip over which works to really make the chest look similar but different than the front of the car.  It’s a nice little touch.

There is also this really need trick with his gun.  It’s not as original of an idea as the chest, but the gun can be held by a standard 5mm peg fist, or the fist can be folded in and the gun attached to the end of his arm.  It replicates the way the guns in the movies would sort of transform out of the robot arm.  The clip isn’t super strong though, so it tends to fall off if bumped the wrong direction.  It’s also nice to have a movie Jazz with real arms, and not the weird hollow arms the original had.

Overall, despite the size problem, Studio Series Jazz is a pretty nice figure.  He’s visually interesting in both modes, partly from his nice coat of paint.  The transformation does some neat tricks.  The robot is pretty nicely pose able, he has some really good ankle tilt joints that aren’t even part of the transformation.  He’s definitely a good update for the old Jazz and pretty nice on his own.

Transformers – Studio Series – Black Out

As sort of a last hurrah for the Michal Bay Transformers series, which is effectively done, Hasbro has been doing a sort of “greatest hits” line themed around the movies called Studio Series.  It’s not a bunch of re-releases though, it’s new molds of most of the figures, with an emphasis on Robot Mode Scale.  It’s also a way for Hasbro to give us better versions of a lot of characters who aren’t named Bumblebee or Optimus Prime.  Often in the case of movie toys, for the sake of spoilers, toy companies end up working from pre production art and general descriptions or stills.  They need to have the toys out when the movie releases, so they are working on the toys before the final movie vision is in place.  So in the end, things don’t always end up being a perfect representation.  Studio Series goes back to fix some of these issues.

The original Black Out toy from the first movie way back in 2007, isn’t really a bad toy, or a bad iteration of the character.  His main offense is that he’s kind of too small.  Black Out is one of the largest characters across all of the movies, and his Voyager toy isn’t awful, but it doesn’t really give off the proper huge vibes he deserves.  For Studio Series, Blackout gets a Leader sized toy.  The only other Leader Class figure so far is Grimlock from Age of Extinction.

He is definitely a nice size for Studio series at this scale, though he is actually quite a bit smaller than Leader figures from the Generations lines (Currently Power of the Primes) and even previous movie figures.  Leader Class Blackout is noticeably smaller than Leader Class Starscream from the previous movie lines, for example.  If you’re a real stickler for scale, Blackout is still going to be too small to go with a lot of the previous movie Transformers.

Blackout is still a pretty nice looking Transformer though.  He is full of the little greebley bits that really made the live action style what it was during the Bay era.  There are a surprising amount of little tab places on the fold over parts as well, particularly in his arms and shoulders.  The whole robot doesn’t really look solid, but it is.  I have had a little bit of trouble with one leg popping off the mushroom peg joint when turning it, it goes back on, but it’s kind of an issue.  All of the little bits hanging off everywhere also tend to hinder articulation a lot.  He has plenty of joints, but he can’t really use all of them.  He also is pretty back heavy due to his backpack, which doesn’t help when trying to balance any poses.  Probably the last major gripe about his little claw hands, which have no way or rotating them to do anything besides look like little flippers hanging off his arms.  He has thumbs and everything, but the greebles and lack of wrists just makes them useless.

One final note of worry on the robot mode, the flat part of the feet are made up of two panels that later make up the sides of the helicopter tail.  I seriously worry that these panels will end up scraped up and nasty looking after being used as feet, over time.

Transformation leans back into the complexity of the early movie lines as well, which will be a turn off for some people, and probably most kids.  There is a lot of “do this in this order” and “position this just right” going on with panels and whatnot that need to properly mush together.  It’s not a real hard transformation, it just can be tricky in getting everything massaged into place.  Also, I found the joint holding the pelvis and back together on mine to be extremely tight.  I knew it needed to separate and flip up, but it required enough force to free it that it made me uncomfortable pulling on it and I was worried it might break.

The helicopter itself is very nice, it’s appropriately large as well, almost 12 inches long.  Like his 2007 version, Blackout includes a small Scorponok figure and like the 2007 figure, the Scorponok can be inserted into the tail area of Blackout’s vehicle.  There isn’t really much else to the helicopter, there isn’t any spring loaded helicopter gimmick or missile launchers, it’s just a nice looking military chopper.

Ultimately, I feel like Blackout is a pretty cool sort of display piece, maybe not a super great toy.  He looks really good in both modes, but the joint issues and complex transformation make his playability kind of weak.  Also, the price tag of Leader class figures at $50 USD frankly.  This is more of a personal complaint with the latest trends of Transformers pricing though.