Originally posted on slangards.multiply.com on Feb 11, '09
I was pleasantly surprised by the Leader Class (LC) Transformers from the Animated line (TFA). With a record of 1 in 3 for the Movie figures (TFTM), Hasbro really lowered my expectations of any new toys that came out in this size group. Despite some glowing reviews, I hesitated to pay P3,000.00 for what was potentially another disappointment like the Leader Class (LC) Brawl.
I'm glad to say that the TFA line continues to surpass the TFTM figures in almost every category. Of the three I secured (2 through trade, but all at the 50% sale price at Toy Kingdom/Toys R' Us), none were disappointments. All three of the figures released thus far have great sculpts, features that don't get in the way of playability, and with one exception, decent articulation.
I'll start with the Autobots.
Originally, this was the only one I was actually considering buying at suggested retail price. In the package it looks more impressive than any Transformer I've seen in recent years, the Unicron figure included. I've only caught a few episodes of the cartoon show, but Magnus is an old warrior, head of the Cybertron Elite Guard, and kinda a grouch. He's supposedly very gruff with a no nonsense personality. Think R. Lee Emery in Full Metal Jacket, but with a positronic brain. The toy's sculpt captures that well.
Standing, Magnus looks imposing. He's taller than the other Autobots, Bulkhead included, but I feel the scale of his robot form is a little ginormous. On the cartoon, he was head and shoulders above Jazz, Sentinel Prime and Optimus, but the toy towers over the Deluxe Class figures in the line. I suppose if you had the money, a Voyager Class Prime would be in perfect scale with him, but then your Prime would be out of scale with the others. It's quite the predicament, but imagination, my friends is the key to happiness.
Anyway, the mold of the toy looks accurate to the model in the cartoon, down to his grumpy face. The "WORKING LIGHTS AND SOUND!" feature is pretty innocuous; if you press his Elite Guard insignia in robot form, he squawks "Don't be a hero, Optimus... it's not in your programming" along with other blurbs. There's a tiny button on the side of the truck that activates a sound effect like a short energy burst from the cannons, and when you lock/unlock the arms from position, there's the transformation effect that we all know and love. The sound fares better than the light feature since the bulbs aren't all that strong. You'd need to be in a pretty dark room to see much of a difference really. No biggie.
There's also a minimum of kibble (robot bits on the vehicle, vehicle bits on the robot) for this Transformer. His leg transformation is especially ingenious, the wheels folding up to hide within the hollow boot. Generally that's the story with all the figures in this line. His vehicle mode is really nice with a plethora of weaponry that pops out from various orifices.
His articulation below the waist is superb. Big Transformers usually have less articulation than their smaller counterparts, since those in the smaller classes can depend on ball joints. Bigger toys have too much heft to support for ball joints to be effective, so usually they have a combination of ratcheted peg joints. They provide much needed support for the figure and help it hold poses. Just like this one.
However, the upper body is another story. Basically, you can move his arms outwards from his side, and bend his arm at the elbow and... that's it. The elbow joint is further limited by his weapon, a hammer that he can't do anything with basically. There is a "joint" in the vicinity of the "shoulder", but it's so far back that moving his arm from them results in a very weird looking pose. To make things worse, there's no lock on his shoulder armor. It kind of flops around. The only thing Mags can really do is stand and glare at Decepticons. Sigh.
Of the three, he turned out to be my least favorite because of the surprise lack of movement. Still, a great display piece and addition to your TFA collection.
Before the big markdown of the TFA LCs, I was looking to get the Voyager Class figure of Bulkhead. I wasn't sold on the idea that he should be a great big hulk of a character, and I really liked the wrecking ball accessory that the smaller toy came with. But when prices on the Leader Class toys came down to the level of the Voyager Class figures (in Philippine toy stores), would you buy the smaller ones? I didn't think so.
Bulkhead fares alto better in the articulation department than Magnus did. He is actually the most stable of all the TFA LCs (though none of them will really be doing high kicks for long). He looks his part, that of a big wrecking ball. He's even got treads on his feet like a tank (they don't move).
He gets one up on the other two in the light & sound feature as well. In addition to the requisite light and sound, you get a head twist! pretty useless, but hey... more bang for your buck. He says doofus stuff like "My bad..." etc. The cool thing is, aside from the obvious missles on his arms, he also comes with a "headmaster" helmet that makes him say, "Ownage! Total OWNAGE!". It's a line from season 1 of the show where some mad scientist decided to takeover robots brains. It would be stupider if the show wasn't for kids. As it is it's a fun add-in.
Transformation is really beautiful on this guy. Everything fits in perfectly, which is good since he's what the true geeks call a "shell-former"; a transformer who basically just has a shell that breaks into parts to hide the robot inside, which is exactly the process you go through to switch him back and forth. His "shell" folds neatly onto his back when in robot mode. The hatches also open when he's in vehicle mode, so you can pretend that he's releasing a squad of SWAT guys. Fun!
Once I got them all open, Bulkhead's the one I played with the most. He's got the most useful joints of the three, yet he's so sturdy looking. The detachable missles are a plus, and the two action features on his arms (spinning blade and claw that opens and closes) don't have huge switches. Plus he looks great alongside Brawl while in vehicle mode, even if he is from the Animated line.
If you have a boy and his birthday's coming up, run to the nearest Toys R' Us and get one of these. At only P1,500.00, he's really a steal.
There's a saying on the internet; "Trukk not Munky". It's a fan boy rallying cry whenever toy/comic/movie outfits change anything that is regarded as classic or canon. Megatron's signature colors from the 80's cartoon is one of them. Every time a new Megatron (or Prime for that matter) comes out, it is always compared (unfavorably most of the time) to the original. If it's not a gun, it sucks. If he doesn't have the scope-as-a-bazooka, it sucks. If it's not gray, it sucks.
Which is where this guy comes in. I never really wanted the original TFA LC Megatron since I'd already bought 2 versions of his Cybertron form in gray. When this re-color came out though, I was floored. Even better, only a month or two after it's release, Playkit (the Philippine distributor) decides to slash the price to 50%! Score!
From the back and forth on the boards, Shadowblade Megatron isn't too popular. But I always felt black and purple made Skywarp the baddest son of a bitch in the sky, why not give Megs a shot at the title? As predicted, this guy looks great next to the similarly scaled Masterpiece Skywarp. He also looks great as a background to any Cobra figures you might have.
The vehicle is a next generation dual-blade helicopter. the rotors have a gear system that allows both to turn when one is pushed around. Hasbro again decided against the obvious action feature option here (unsightly-gun-handle-with-trigger-to-spin-the-blades!) in favor of the Light & Sound. In vehicle mode, he has a great whooshing sound a black ops drop ship might have.
In bot mode, he's just as evil looking, and the voice clips are appropriately sinister. "Destroy the Autobots!", etc etc etc. There are some gripes to his transform scheme, like the obvious robot chest under they helicopter, or his arms not forming into a solid piece and just clipping onto the shoulders, or his weird knock-kneed stance. With a little posing though, you can hide the knock-knees, and the forearms and chest aren't really seen when you display him as in vehicle mode.
Again, the articulation is top-notch. Getting him in a good range of poses and keeping him there is pretty easy. With his accessories, it's even better. He's got he classic cannon on his arm, and two swords (converted from his rotor blades). He can blow up Autobots with one, slice and dice with the other. Order him now and we'll take 50% off the price!
Basically, if you're going to pick up any of these, it's worth the P1,500.00. They're great toys, with great accessories, and great playability. Only Ultra Magnus has a real point against him with his lack of arm articulation. I've heard some complaints about the paint on Magnus, but the examples I've seen were all decent.
Ultra Magnus is already sold out I've been told, and Shadowblade is right on his heels. You can still get your hands on Bulkhead and the regular Megatron now, so get cracking!