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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.

Review – Movie – Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

NOTE: I was originally going to make one long review with a spoiler filled section of bitching following this segment. Unfortunately due to the somewhat random and incoherent nature of the plot, the spoiler filled section became very random and incoherent. In the interest of making some level of observations, I’m going to go with the non spoiler filled section here and sort out the rest later for a second post.

Ok, Revenge of the Fallen. Transformers 2. In case you missed it, my Transformers 1 review can be found here.

This movie is certainly an action flick. Lots of running and shooting and explosions. Still, it’s based on a kid’s property and is made to push toys so there isn’t much blood or gore. Ok, not much blood or HUMAN gore. Several of the robot death scenes are actually kind of gory, particularly the final one. If you’re making your robots fluid and organic, it makes their deaths a bit more organic than say, the Power Rangers get shot and sparks fly.

Also, as I mentioned,t his is a movie based on a kids property so there is of course lots of swearing. I don’t think there were any F-Bombs but there were several “Shits” and a lot of “Asses”. Speaking of Asses. The Transformers Universe is also populated solely by women who are all “The Hotz”. Sam’s college dorm room apparently is on the all hot girls floor because other than his roommate I don’t recall seeing any other males on the floor. Though in a later scene Sam screams like a little girl and then proceeds to get called a girl by Megan “The Fox” Fox. Considering all of the suggested Gay/Bi jokes/overtones concerning Sam’s roommate, it’s likely that they are in fact not in a Coed dorm but simply assumed to be girls and placed appropriately.


This is supposed to be the short non spoiler part. The movie is large and violent and slightly confusing. It has several irritating plot holes. It’s made “for kids” but is not particularly appropriate for them. At the same time it’s slightly embarrassing to watch for anyone who is older than say, 25. Basically, the ideal target for this flick is High School Kids and Frat boys, though there was a surprisingly large number of chicks in the 4 sold out theaters, many of which were NOT “drug along by their boyfriends”. If you loved the first film, you’ll probably like this. The plot continues the first movie’s plot reasonably well, which is a plus. This movie will own the box office even though it’s slightly crummy. I imagine with repeated viewing I’ll grow to hate it as much as I hate it’s predecessor.

If you were hoping for better characterization for the bots you’re going to be massively disappointed. The cons are even MORE confusing in this film as they die and come back to life and all seem to be in 3 or 4 places AT ONCE. Also we see the unexplained return of Blackout (who supposedly is now named Grindor*) and in at least once scene Bonecrusher drives by. If you don’t remember who Bonecrusher and Blackout are then that’s no surprise since Bonecrusher had maybe 60 seconds of screen time and Blackout maybe 5 minutes in the first film.

* According to the toy but never named in the movie

There are plenty of new bots and several returning old bots. The new Autobots include Arcee, Skids, Mudflap, and Sideswipe. Someone told me after the fact that a bot I mistook for Ironhide at the very end of the movie was Jolt though I don’t remember him showing up ANYWHERE else. Skids and Mudflap get a reasonable amount of character, assuming by reasonably you mean “They are black… ish…” though they look very “rednecky”. Arcee and company never say anything and mostly just zip around shooting things. I think Sideways gets one line in the entire film with is one less than Jazz got in the first film.

The Cons, as mentioned get the worse end of the stick. Sideways isn’t named ever and has less screen time than Bonerusher got in the first film (50% of his screen time is shown int he movie’s trailer, the other 50% in the Preview clip we got involving Sideswipe). The Constructicons seem to be everywhere all at once including merged and unmerged. They way over use the whole “falling from space” gimmick which makes it seem like there are even more of them.

Even Bumblebee, who was the costar of the first film does almost nothing here. He drives Sam around, he drives Sam and friends around, he drives Sam’s parents around. Basically he drives people from place to place a lot and stands around in the background. Then there is Optimus Prime, who is supposed to be the leader of the Autobots but spends next to zero time around them. Basically he’s been watching a ton fo Rambo between this and the first movie, he pretty much always fights his battles solo.

The real starring bot of this film is probably Starscream. Starscream gets a lot of fleshing out and Megatron somewhat along side him. Sure, neither are quite exact replicas of their older counterparts but they don’t need to be. I accept that this movie is it’s own deal, I don’t expect everything to be “like it was”. What I do expect is that I should give a crap about these people. Hell even if they blow off the cons I’d love it if the Autobots were more than just a band of Red Shirts.

To wrap this up. This film has me very torn. Is it a “good movie”? It depends on your definition of good. Does good mean a perfect Transformers homage and experience? Then no, this movie sucks. Does good mean intriguing plot and deep characters? Then, once again, no, this movie sucks. Does good mean an action packed popcorn flick that had lots of explosions and shooting? Then yeah, this movie is excellent. Just be sure to screen it before letting your kids watch. If you were offended by things like the Masturbation talk and pissing scene of the first film then don’t bother with this as it contains that and more.