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October, 2018:

Review – 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.

20 Years of Blogging…

It seems like I should address this pretty big anniversary for this blog.  Lameazoid.com, is twenty years old, more or less, today.  I honestly don’t have the exact date for sure, but I do have an old copy of the original site that suggests it was created on 10/09/1998.  More accurately, it’s predecessor, The Chaos Xone, was created on 10/09/1998.  Back then it was just a random Geocities website.  It didn’t really use a “Blog Engine” but it did use a “Blog format” of sorts, in the form of manually updated HTML webpages and a copy/paste archive of old posts.

Funny enough, it’s pretty much still the same thing… ish.  I really haven’t cared about Anime in ages and the market for “Cool Waves” and “MIDI Files” hasn’t quite been the same in a long while.  The Geocities Pokemon Center was a separate site I ran that was pretty successful at the time.  This original website went through quite a few iterations, all sort of keeping the core idea of writing random “reviews” on “random crap”.  It moved hosts a few times, from Geocities to Lameazoid the Livejournal, then ramenjunkie.wordpress.com, some stints on Blogger, self hosted at my house on a Linux box, to actually using real paid hosting.  Somewhere around the time I left College and lost that free college hosting, and moving to WordPress I think is when I bought a domain and transformed The Chaos Xone, with it’s Edgy Cool 90s X (the X is for XTREEEEEEM), into Lameazoid.com.

Why Lameazoid?

I think at the time it was supposed to sort of be a sort of buzzword sounding name.  Like Freakazoid, the show.  Only Lame.  I have to admit, back then I was way way more cynical about everything, so I sort of had the idea of focusing on Lame things.  It also sounds kind of retro, which was also more of my shtick at the time.  I do still like the name, it was a pretty good choice honestly.

Over the years though my overall ability and interest in actually writing has come and gone.  If I’m being honest, lately it just feels like no one cares.  And they really probably don’t.  There was a time back in the mid 2000s when Blogging was huge and the site pulled in 1000 visits per day.  That felt pretty awesome.  These days, I’m lucky if I am getting 1000 visits a month, less so since I have not even been updating lately.

I’ve also purged things out completely a few times, for better or for worse.  I have everything though, in an archive.  I have a big ass local WordPress instance that has pretty much everything I’ve ever written in my life stuffed into it in one big ball of mind vomit.  Good and bad.  Not just Lameazoid and the Chaos Xone, I’ve scanned or transcribed old paper journals and writings into it.  Digital space is cheap, it can be backed up safely and easily.  Why ever delete anything?

I’ve also tried to actually reboot and spin off a few times.  The most ambitious was Ready Set Geek, which essentially was a separation of Toys and Video Games.  This leads to a bit of a conundrum on my part of where to stick the middle ground things like movies and comics.  The most successful is probably BloggingIntensifies.com, though that’s more of a spin off of my “Personal Blogging”.  I post there entirely because I want to, not to try to be some sort of New Games Journalism writer.  I’ve tried pushing more into the “new hotness” that killed blogging, like Tumblr and Youtube, but I guess I’m just not into that sort of thing.  I’ve considered trying to recruit people I know to also write here, there was a brief time (during that 1000 visits period) when I did have friends also writing reviews.

Running this site has been pretty great for a lot of indirect reasons though.  I’ve gotten pretty good at working Linux, for example, through the need to run a web server.  Its given me excuses to play with Photoshop and to take photos.  I used to use it as an excuse to be an early adopter of a lot of social media sites.  Knowing your way around the Social web is pretty useful.

Anyway, I mostly just wanted to acknowledge this little event.  Here’s to 20 more years I guess.