Saturday, August 20, 2016

State of the Blog

I realize that it's been over a month since I've posted anything on the blog. Some of you may be wondering what's going on? There hasn't been a lapse this long in new content in quite some time. Like a lot of you I lead a busy life and sometimes life in general just keeps getting in the way of having a little fun. My job keeps me busy in the summer and even though I work from home some days I just haven't been able to sneak in a new review or post lately.

My office desk is in my "toy room" at home and over the last month or so I've been staring at the end wall to my left. There I had 3 cube shelves stacked on top of each other and to the left two large white book shelves. I never was happy w/ the overall look, but too lazy to do anything about it. Lately however I finally decided to use what small free time I had to liquidate some 3rd party TFs from the collection to help finance the purchase of some new Detolf cases from the local IKEA store.

I ended up purchasing four new cases and emptied and moved two cases I already owned. I've now lined the end wall of my room w/ six cases, all side by side. The first order of business was to properly display my G1 collection. I've been working on this for the last 2 weeks and while it's not 100% complete, it's getting there. I really hope to share more of what I've been working on and get back to sharing some great toys that I have, but for now here is a sample pic of the fruits of my labor.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Transformers Go!: Gekisoumaru G05

We are finally to the third and final member of Transformers Go!'s combing shinobi team, Gekisoumaru. He is also the largest of the group and the best toy in my opinion.

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Gekisoumaru takes on the alternate mode of a large lion. In the standard combined configuration, he forms the chest portion of the gestalt. We'll look at that a little more in bit. His package is your standard Go! fare. A large window to show off the toy while the back of the box shows off the toy and I'm guessing tells you a little about the electronic features of the toy. One side has his Tech Spec rankings while the other shows off the combining aspect of this figure and the others in the team.

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When I first saw the solicitation pictures online of Gekisoumaru a few years ago I was impressed. The blue looks fantastic on the figure and the yellow and gold trim help give the figure a fantastic appearance overall. I personally like the large lion face chest too. Perhaps it's my recent interest in all things Brave again, but this guy gives me that type of vibe.

He has a solid, complete look overall. What I mean by that is the other two members of his team have areas that expose the legs going all the way up to the robot's upper body. Neither Hishoumaru or Sensuimaru have a well defined torso area and it makes the robot look awkward from certain angles. I guess since Gekisoumaru is intended to be the main torso of the combined mode and combined with his inner electronics, he has to be a bigger, beefier toy and it works.

The lion mane is made of soft yellow plastic shards that attach via a ball and socket. This gives these pieces mobility as you can pose them any way you want, or remove them all together if you light.

Articulation wise he has good range of motion in all of his limbs. His head can turn a full 360 degrees. His shoulders allow the arms to rotate a full 360 degrees. The arms have double jointed elbows. His waist doesn't turn, but you can make him do a split. He has a thigh swivel and hinge jointed knees. His toes move up and down, but that is more from transformation than it is articulation.


When you press the Autobot symbol on the lion's forehead, you are treated with some interesting phrases and sound effects.

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I will admit that his robot mode isn't quite perfect. The head is a tad small for the size of the body and that grin! What is this Cybertron/Autobot so dang chippy about?! I do love the detail that was put into the face and head however.

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His lion tail doubles as a whip for him to wield while in combat. His top two lion mane shards can also be used individually as swords or you can combine both pieces with the tail to form a larger, more powerful combined weapon as you see here.

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One his back you'll find this clear piece where you can mount the two swords if you choose not to use them. Look carefully and you'll also see the combined robot's head.

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Where as the other two have removable kabuto pieces, Gekisoumaru's combiner bits are worked into the figure. I removed the head (or helmet if you will since it fits over Gekisoumaru's head) so I could get a better picture of it. I has a fantastic look and the more I stare at it to more I do see a ninja vibe going on.

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The overall proportions of the lion may be a little off, but in hand this thing looks pretty cool. Transformation between forms is pretty straight forward, something that I found very refreshing. I'm not always a fan of these complex transformations.

His articulation in lion mode is a little limited. Each leg can rotate a full 360 degrees, thanks in part to his mane pieces being on ball and sockets. His tail is fixed between his rear legs.

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Up close look at the lion head. Good detail, I like the large white teeth and the silver vents (?) on the sides. His eyes are a red translucent plastic as they do light up and blink when the Autobot symbol on his forehead is pressed.

Personally I could take or leave the electronics. I do worry about them leaking over time and messing up the toy, plus it does add some extra size to the toy...however in this case I think the extra girth helps the toy.

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He also has an attack mode. You can fold up and forward the combined robot's head and move the sword mane pieces over to the side of his legs. Flip forward to two lower pieces of his mane and he's ready to charge in against the evil Predacons!

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After my disappointment with the individual and combined form of the previous Transformers Go! Samurai combiner team, this is a refreshing change of pace. In this configuration the gestalt's name is GoGekisoumaru. Which ever robot forms the chest area, you just add "Go" to that robot's name.

I like the look of this configuration. The legs are still a little thin, but look better than the other options. Now I do apologize I didn't photograph the other combined configurations. I took these pictures quite awhile ago and then placed the figures up on my top shelf...and well he isn't that easy to access at this time.

You can take the other weapons and combine them to form a larger weapon, same as the other's kabuto pieces to form a large shield.

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It's clear that Sensuimaru forms the legs, but Hishoumaru just seems to form a backpack! This does cause the combined robot to be a little top heavy, but I've had him on display like this for awhile now and he hasn't had any trouble standing up without any additional support.

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In my personal opinion Gekisoumaru is a solid figure, whether you have just him or intend on using him in his combined form. Like the others, this figure didn't seem to sell well as I've seen this toy hit clearance prices. eToysJapan currently has him in stock for just $25.19!

I should also note that he was recolored in a "Nemesis Prime" like color scheme. I believe he was a Aeon store exclusive in Japan. It is labeled as the Kurojishi version, which is supposed to translate to "black lion". eToysJapan also has this figure currently in stock, marked down from $59.94 to $41.68.

Three figure combiners have their strengths and weaknesses and they aren't for everyone. While the Samurai team let me down a bit, the Shinobi team improves on many of the others weaknesses. These figures do have a strong Brave feel so if you are fan of Takara's other family of transforming robots these may appeal to you more. However if you are just looking for something different you may want to give Hishoumaru, Sensuimaru and Gekisoumaru a look, especially since all three are basically on clearance at many online retailers.

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Transformers Go!: Sensuimaru G20

Today's post brings the 2nd member of the Shinobi team from Transformers Go!, Sensuimaru. Along with Hishoumaru and Gekisoumaru, these two sword bots form a combiner were either robot can form the top, middle or bottom. It's a different approach to the traditional Transformers combiner and while their combined form isn't my favorite, I do particularly enjoy Sensuimaru.

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The back of the packaging shows Sensuimaru's robot and alt mode (a very cool shark) as well as the team's combined form w/ Sensuimaru forming the top part of the combiner, GoSensuimaru. The tech spec rankings are found one end of the box, while the other end has a larger image of the combined form.

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Sensuimaru sports a rich purple color scheme with black robotic parts with red and white paint in certain areas. The robot mode does have a few drawbacks however. First is the kibble on his shins is quite large, but thankfully it doesn't detract too much from the over look. The 2nd drawback, and quite the biggest issue with the robot mode is the fact that he's all legs. The small waist "skirt" needs to be a little larger to help hide the fact that the legs continue past his waist. Flip Sensuimaru around and you'll see just how awful the robot looks,

Because of the combining gimmick, his articulation is limited. His arms have a good range of motion in the shoulder and elbow areas, but with no true waist the leg articulation is limited to the knees. You can spread out the legs a bit, but the further you move the legs apart the more apparent it is the lack of a waist.

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While I prefer Sensuimaru's headsculpt over Hishoumaru's, the head just seems to float above the body too much for my tastes. With his alt mode being that of a shark, I'm OK with the head being molded into the body of the alt mode.

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Sensuimaru's kabuto is a bit smaller than this teammates. This piece is used for when Sensuimaru forms the top part of the combined mode, but can also be attached to both the robot and shark modes or wielded as a shield or a weapon.

I particularly like the way Sensuimaru's kabuto looks. The head sculpt looks fantastic and the gold sections helps make the chest look fuller in combined mode. At first I thought the silver portion at the bottom was a missile or some type of weapon, but after looking at it again it's actually an anchor. Makes since since he has a marine alt mode.

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Sensuimaru's kabuto can be attached to his robot mode, but in my opinion it just looks odd all folded up on his back. You can almost fold it up far enough that the anchor tips sit on his shoulders like rocket launchers.

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I'm not sure what his weapons are supposed to be. Are they shuriken of some sort? Or are they just a generic bladed weapon like a pick axe? Either way, he can wield these one in each hand, or combine them for a larger weapon.

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Sensuimaru has the best alt mode of the 3 Shinobi team members hands down. While he is clearly a shark, he almost has this submarine vibe going on as well. While he does have a good bit of under carriage in alt mode, at least he's armed. While I'm not the most versed fan/collector of Takara's Brave series of toys, from day one I've always thought that Sensuimaru had a Brave aesthetic.

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There is so much detail sculpted into this figure that I can forgive the overall lack of articulation. In shark mode his jaw is articulated as well as the front purple fins, but that is about it.

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The kabuto piece attaches to underneath of the shark and actually blends in well with the figure. When you place the shark on a smooth hard surface you'll see that the nose leans down a little more than when the kabuto isn't attached.

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Sensuimaru to me is one of those figures that you'll either love or hate. He has a decent robot mode and a fantastic alt mode. He isn't the most articulated and he has some flaws in robot mode, but overall I think he's a solid figure. Because of his large legs I opted with keeping Sensuimaru the lower portion of the combined robot, but his kabuto does have a great head sculpt and I wouldn't hesitate switching around the order of these 3 bots.

Like with his Shinobi teammates, I don't think he sold very well and hit the clearance racks fairly quickly. As of this post, you can still grab him brand new for $16.03, roughly 50% off his original retail price at eToysJapan. If you're looking for a different type of combiner then you may want to give the Shinobi team a chance...especially since the prices for the 3 figures have fallen so much.

Related Posts:
Gekisoumari G05
Hishoumaru G10

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Transformers Go!: Hishoumaru G10

While Western audiences were treated with the continuation of the Transformers Prime toyline in Beast Hunters (and eventually on the television show as well), Japan decided to go a different route with Transformers Go!. Set in the same universe as Prime, Go! essentially continues the story after season 2 of Prime ended. This isn't the first time where Takara has taken Transformers down a different path than what other parts of the world received.

Combiners made their return to Transformers with the inclusion of the Swordbots, martial artist transformers that have the ability to combine and form powerful three robot combiners. There were two teams, Samurai and Shinobi. The Samurai team was the first to receive toys in the Go! series. I own this group and had every intention on doing a post for each 'bot, but if I'm being honest I wasn't all that impressed with them as individual robots so I may never get around to that post. However I'm glad to say the Shinobi team is pretty cool and Hishoumaru is the first member of the Shinobi team we'll look at.

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Takara always does a great job with the packaging for their Transformers series and Go! is no different. Packaged in large window boxes, you can see Hishoumaru displayed in his robot mode. Flip the box over and you've got a larger product shot of the toy in robot and beast mode as well as his combined mode where he forms the top of the combiner.

One side of the box gives you a larger view of the combined mode where Hishoumari forms the top of the combiner robot. We'll talk more about that later. The other side of the box has his tech spec ratings.

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When you have a robot that combines with others there is bound to be some drawbacks to the toy. In the case of this one (and others in the Shinobi group) these robots tend to have very long legs and not much of a defined waist area. Hishoumaru has probably the best robot mode of the group as the torso plastic covers the center portion fairly well. Flip the figure around and it's a whole different story. The robot's legs do suffer from a bit of beast kibble as the bird feet fold up and just hang off the side of his calves.

Articulation for the robot is hampered by the combining element, but between the hinge joints and ball joints you can pull off some decent poses.

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The only part of the robot that I really don't care for is the head/face sculpt. I guess I'm just not fond of the rounded, almost humanoid head. Looking at his long enough and I can start to see Rodimus Prime a little bit.

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Each Swordbot comes with their own unique kabuto along with a few weapons. The kabuto serves as the upper torso and combiner head for when that robot forms the upper half of the trio combiner. While not combined, each robot can wield the kabuto as a shield or a weapon. This piece can also be attached in beast and robot modes.

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In this shot you can see the kabuto has been attached to the back of Hishoumaru. He is also wielding his main weapon, a kunai knife sword. This piece also doubles as the tail section while in beast mode.

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I'm not sure what animal his beast mode is supposed to be. Is it a phoenix, eagle or some sort of chicken? I actually like the bird mode more than I thought I would. It's a little thick and wide in places, but it works. It's not as nice as say Energon's Divebomb was, but it gets the job done.

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From a top view you can get a better idea how the kunai sword attaches to the rear of the bird to form it's tail feathers of sorts. You can also attach the kabuto to the bird's back as well and flip up the head antennae to form little guns. I apologize that I forgot to take a picture of this, but you'll see what I've referenced in the Shinobi team group shot below.

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While I didn't care for the robot's head sculpt, I love the beast mode's bird head sculpt. The red eyes help complete that evil Decepticon look.

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Overall Hishoumaru surprised me. I honestly didn't know what to expect going in after the mild disappointment that was the Samurai team. He has decent looking forms in both robot and beast modes, a fair amount of articulation and he makes for a good upper torso potion of the combiner, GoHishou. I do see however how some fans just don't care for this figure. It's made to combine with the other Shinobi team members...period and while it has it's shortfalls, he turns out to be a decent figure who just happens to have a very loud color scheme going on.

I don't believe this figure (or the other combiners) sold very well and now can be had in a set of 3 with the other Shinobi team members ($30-$50) for what I paid for the figure alone when it was first released. One online store I used to shop frequently has him in stock as of today's date for a mere $16.03 if you're interested.

Related Posts:
Gekisoumaru G05
Sensuimaru G20