Like the Shrikebats of Dromedon

Kup in robot mode

Have you ever listened to a military veteran tell stories of a war? Have you ever heard them recount how much the Battle of WhateverTheHeck relates to the current situation? Meet Kup; he’s that guy. On top of that, he’s still an incredibly effective soldier for the Autobot cause, can wrangle Hot Rod, Grimlock, and Wheelie during emergency situations, and still has his Cybertronian alt mode.

Kup in Cybertronian truck mode

Kup taught us all about the Universal Greeting – Bah weep grah nah weep ninibong. He helps the Autobots make it through Optimus Prime’s death, and helps Hod Rod on his journey to becoming Rodimus Prime. Yes, he did it through nagging and war stories, but he did it!

Maybe I should write something about the toy.

Both the Cybertronian truck mode and the robot mode are incredibly accurate to the 1986 Transformers movie. The joints are tight enough to keep a pose, but loose enough to be posed in the first place. The toy comes with both Kup’s gun and the energon dispenser that he uses in combination with the Universal Greeting.

I was quite happy to add this Studio Series Kup to my collection, and doubly impressed with the continued accuracy of the Studio Series figues.

Animated Soundwave

Animated Soundwave in robot mode

There is a Transformers series that is set in a futuristic Detroit, and that series is Transformers: Animated. The art style is less realistic than many, and the story is definitely targeted to a younger audience. The human friend of the Autobots, Sari, is actually both competent and relatable to the target audience. I really enjoyed the Easter eggs and one-shot callback characters that appear throughout.

Unlike in most of the Transformers timelines, in this one, Soundwave doesn’t begin as a Decepticon. He begins as a robot toy of Sari’s, and begins to develop into a full-fledged transformer after coming into contact with a shard of the Allspark. This sort of process can be seen in later shows and movies, like the first Bayverse live-action movie.

Animated Soundwave in vehicle mode

As per usual, Soundwave is accompanied by his mini-con/drone/whatever, Laserbeak. And this time around, Soundwave turns into something akin to a Scion xB, while Laserbeak turns into a flying V electric guitar. There’s also an “electrostatic” version of the toy, with a dark gray and red color scheme rather than blue, and Ratbat as a keytar rather than Laserbeak. In the secondary market, this version is much harder to come by, despite any and all whining I may have done.

This is the second iteration of this toy that I’ve owned, and both have had extremely loose knees (much like me). That makes posing a lot more difficult than it could be, but not impossible. I’m very happy to have this one back in my collection, and am now on the lookout for a copy of the Animated series to add to my DVD/Blu-Ray collection.

Satisfaction guaranteed. Or your money back!

Junkheap in motorcycle mode

While Wreck-Gar is the most well-known of the Junkions, he is most certainly not the only one. Meet Junkheap, also known as Junkyard. You can see him (actually several of him) following Wreck-Gar into battle in the 1986 film. In some of the later episodes of the G1 show, he is a merchant and trader. But, Skippy, you might ask, why did you purchase a Studio Series figure for a character that barely gets any screen time in the movie?

Junkheap in robot mode

Is it because the Planet of Junk and its inhabitants are the pinnacle of re-use? Nope. It’s because I needed a motorcycle for Wreck-Gar to ride. One of the coolest parts of the Junkions’ transformations is that they are designed to ride each other, rather than being designed for much smaller creatures, like humans. And so, Wreck-Gar wouldn’t REALLY be complete without something… er… someone to ride. It is worth noting that Junkheap is not just a repaint. The toy keeps to the idea that the Junkions are made of random, but similar, junk. Every piece of him is different than Wreck-Gar, despite their very similar general construction and vehicle modes. Getting the motorcycle mode to clip together just right is a bit finicky, though. Definitely a bit more difficult to transform than his compatriot.

Akira pose wreck-gar among his friends

I mentioned all of this to MonkeyLinkMega, and he suggested – no, he demanded – that I pose him like the motorcycle pose in Akira. Well, I couldn’t very well deny such a brilliant request, could I? So here you have it. Wreck-Gar, riding Junkheap, in the same pose as Kaneda and his bike. They’re surrounded by Studio Series ’86 Kup and Perceptor.

Rhinox, Maximize!

Rhinox in robot mode

Studio Series Beast Wars? That’s a joke, right? There’s no way they’d actually attempt show-accurate toys after the travesty that was…

Well hot damn, they did. Aside from Optimus Primal, Rhinox was my favorite Beast Wars character. He’s stocky. He moves with purpose and consideration of what’s around him, because of his size and weight. He’s a tinkerer, an engineer, and prefers to consider his options, in contrast to some of his hot-headed compatriots. But once he’s pushed to action? Watch out! Those twin chain guns come out and before you know it, pieces of Predacon are everywhere.

The first thing that I noticed was that in order to have both a show-accurate robot mode AND a show-accurate rhino mode, they had to sacrifice a show-accurate transformation. The rhino’s jaw does not open wide and fold down over his chest and back. The proportions just don’t work without extra CGI magic. The transformation is pretty complex, but the instructions are just clear enough to get me through.

Rhinox in rhino mode

The rhino mode is accurate, but limited in poseability. I mean, it’s a rhino. I wasn’t expecting anything else. On the other hand, the robot mode really impressed me. I expected all sorts of bits of shell to restrict movement, but there isn’t any.

Take that, Big Convoy!

I do wish the chain guns were a more show-accurate size, but I’m thankful that they got the look spot-on from the front. I would probably have bought this at full price, but I picked it up on sale with Kup and Perceptor. Overall, this figure is a win!


Perceptor toy in microscope mode

I’m not sure if you all know this, but I’ve always been a big nerd. Always. School was pretty easy for me, I was always in advanced or accelerated classes, and teachers constantly chose me for leadership positions amongst my peers. Surprisingly, I didn’t really want for friends growing up, either.

In any case, when my favorite cartoon introduced a character who was smart, analytical, and mostly pacifist, I felt seen, as they say. I felt like Perceptor GOT me… despite being a fictional transforming and mass-shifting robot from outer space. You know, the usual.

Perceptor toy in robot mode

When the Studio Series ’86 toy line came out with a Perceptor toy, and it went on sale, I jumped on it. After transforming it a few times, and playing with it a little, I have NOT been disappointed. The only joints that are a little loose are the mid-thigh joints for the microscope mode, and it’s nothing that a little pose adjustment can’t fix.

The toy comes with a pretty generic blaster, but one that can peg into his microscope mode for storage. There’s nearly no kibble, just like the original toy. The microscope’s light/mirror doesn’t move separately from the tray any more, but I remember that being – at least on my toy – a serious loose joint.

So, let’s sum up. Scientist character that I can relate to? Check. Nostalgia button? Pressed. Increased overall pose-ability and detail from the original toy? Definitely. Still true to the original? Without a doubt.

You talk TV?

It’s been pretty easy not buying new Transformers lately. I’d like to say that it was an example of willpower, or a flexing of my massive self-control. Or, maybe, I’d diverted my desire to buy toys into a selfless focus on my children. Yeah, I’d like to say all that.

I can’t, though. There simply haven’t been any interesting ones on the shelves lately. Like everything else, it’s likely been impacted by the supply chain difficulties and labor shortage across the board. (And when I say labor shortage, what I mean is that as of today, 718,681 Americans have died of COVID-19 in the past two years. This isn’t politics, this is a fact.) So, when I saw a whole new shipment of toys in my local Meijer, I let myself get a little bit hopeful.

Studio Series Wreck-Gar in box

Lo and behold, there were racks of new Transformers on the shelves! Now, we’ve already established that I am pretty picky when it comes to which bits of plastic and die-cast metal I’ll spend my greenbacks on. But when I saw three Studio Series 1986 boxes on the top shelf, I may have startled my kids with and excited squee. MAY HAVE. You can’t prove anything. Meijer had two Sweeps… and a Wreck-Gar.

Cue a second startling of the kids, and an intense debate on whether or not I should spend money on the ONE copy of the figure that I was most excited for in the entire Studio Series line. So, yes, I bought it.

Studio Series Wreck Gar vehicle mode

This toy does not disappoint. Its transformation is intuitive enough that I was able to transform from vehicle to robot modes and back without using the instructions the second time around. The detail is amazing. The tires are slightly different sizes, there is a speedometer and tachometer, the handlebars look like handlebars, the gas tank and saddlebags are convincing enough. His spinny axe has a place to stow in vehicle mode, and he’s even got a kickstand that is hidden away perfectly in robot mode. To quote my youngest son, “Dad, there’s no kibble. Like, NONE.”

Studio Series Wreck Gar robot mode

Joints are plentiful and tight, except for one of the 360 degree waist joints, which is a little too loose. The wheels and the axe fit snugly in all of the places that they’re supposed to. Transformation is smooth, and there are no moments when I feel like I need to break the toy just to get it to do the thing. The wheels roll over carpet and upholstery just fine, though don’t on wood floors and desks. (I, mean, c’mon, off-roading nubs!) Best of all, it’s designed so that if you have two of them, one in robot mode can ride one in motorcycle mode, just like the movie!

I have always been in awe of the Junkions‘ ability to repair themselves and others with nothing but the junk on their planet. As an adult, I’ve definitely come to prefer used things to new, and prefer repairing to replacing. I can’t say that it was directly inspired by Wreck-Gar and his friends, but with the number of times I’ve re-watched that movie, I can’t rule it out, either.

So, right down to the nipple guns, this figure hits all of the nostalgia points, in alphabetical order. It’s a toy of good make and significantly more detail than I’m used to for its price point. I highly recommend it!

Soundwave superior, Constructicons inferior.

Remember that post, a little bit ago, where I said it’s been forever since I bought a Transformer? Well… I found one that not only satisfied my pickiness, but also brought me joy to buy.

Soundwave bot mode

I’ve been a fan of Soundwave since there’s been a Soundwave. 1984 to present, cassette deck to futuristic jet to lowered SUV to communications satellite, I have been a fan. Don’t even get me started on his depiction in Transformers Prime. Just amazing. They even once made a Soundwave MP3 player, and if I had had the cash at the time, I guarantee that I would have owned it.

I’m not trying to establish my nerd cred here. This is not an assertion of my Transformers Fan Superiority. If it has that effect, fine, I won’t complain. What I’m trying to do here is communicate my ages-old fan status of the Decepticon that was always just a little bit different from his fellow Cybertronians.

Soundwave car mode

This toy, the Cyberverse Deluxe Class Soundwave, met all my nit-picks. It’s well articulated. It’s not top heavy or picky about how the feet are aligned or posed. It looks good in both robot and vehicle modes. There is no overwhelming kibble when in robot mode, and there’s no obvious robot bits in vehicle mode. Laserbeak is not only included, but can still transform into a cartridge (engine?) and fit into Soundwave’s chest. Both modes can be played with!

And let’s not forget, this is a Deluxe class. That’s a $20 USD price point. Not sixty bucks, or even forty. Twenty bucks. It’s pretty dang small, but it’s better than most Soundwave toys that have come out in the last thirty years.

If you find this one in your local store, or online, I highly recommend it. Especially if you’re a Soundwave fan.

I find your argument logical.

I haven’t bought any Transformers for about four years. Ultra Magnus was the last, four or so years ago. I’ve resisted, even with some REALLY good figures that have come out. My enthusiasm has been dampened ever since I sold off my entire collection for rent and utility money.

And then this Christmas happened.

This is Shockwave from the Transformers Cyberverse – Battle for Cybertron toy line. It also came with the left leg and foot of a Build-a-Figure for Maccadam, a mysterious bar owner on Cybertron, who features heavily. My kids and their mom bought Shockwave for me for XMas and Yule; they saw it, and immediately thought of how much I’d like it. And I do! The robot mode is definitely my favorite. For such a small figure, it has many points of articulation, and poses very well. The Shockwave look that’s been developed from G1 to now is present, especially in his robot mode. Also, the gun arm is removable, so you can play before the injury, or after, or on whichever arm you want. Also a laser blast that you can attach onto the end of either gun! I’ve never had that before!

If I remember correctly, Transformers Animated was the first Shockwave to turn into a tank. Of course, he also turned into an Autobot, so all bets were off. He’s made an excellent tank since then, culminating, in my opinion, in the Tranformers Prime animated series.

I was uncertain about this spider-tank (quad-tank?) mode at first, but it is definitely growing on me. Once the knees and elbows are bent properly, it looks less like a robot doing the crab walk, and more like an actual futuristic walker. And, to be perfectly honest, the laser last looks even better in this mode.

Overall, I’m impressed with the detail, articulation points and angles, paint job, and detail molded right into the plastic. This small USD $20 toy beats out so many past attempts, many of them a lot more expensive, with ease. I am thoroughly impressed.

Thank you to my kids and their mom for this thoughtful and fantastic gift!