Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Review: Secrets of Deltora



Review: #89
Title: Secrets of Deltora
Series: Deltora Quest - companion book
Author: Emily Rodda
Read Before: no
My Comments: For a companion book, this is great, I had high expectations and it was lived up to. If only more authors put this much amount of effort into their companions, then I would not hate them so much. It is brilliantly written and illustrated; the many coloured illustrations really help you indulge into the text and the work. It's a bit of a story and guide of the Deltora world mixed together, and if you had read the full Deltora Quest series, then you get a lot of hints everywhere, and what’s more, there’s even a secret message which I thought was quite cleverly hidden. Takes you around ten or so mins to get it, and I guess it entertains you for just that extra bit. As I mentioned, a lot of throwbacks to the Deltora Quest series of books, yet, it does not provide a summary like many ‘guides’ do, it adds a lot of new stuff, which is why it makes this book just so much more interesting. I am hopeful that that the author will do one more of these, as there’s one more great story that the author can write about that I can think of. I like the way that you can see how Deltora was before the events of the story, it really adds a lot. Secrets of Deltora is a definite must-read for any fans of the Deltora Quest series.
Rating: 7/10
Rereadability Factor: 6/10

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review: South Town



Review: #88
Title: South Town
Series: Tres Navarre - 5th book
Author: Rick Riordan
Read Before: no
My Comments: A really dark story, which seems really atypical of the author, particularly after reading his child-fiction books. The beginning was really interesting but it started to wane off a bit, but still remaining quite suspenseful, as the background of the crime is revealed bit by bit. It does get a bit scattered, and I’m not sure if reading the previous books in the series may help, as the names of characters starts to get muddle up in your head as there’s quite a lot of minor side characters in a short amount of time, causing you to flip back to the pages where they first appeared to remember why they actually were and how they are relevant. In this aspect, it gets better at the end as the core cast becomes much tighter, it might be me with the adult fiction genre, but I was surprised at the large amount of deaths and also the amount of swearing going on, at times, that I think unnecessary. It’s pretty good as far as adult fiction goes in my opinion (not that I have much experience in this) and I was eager to get through the book as its quite absorbing, especially without any fantasy elements in it. I managed to guess most of the ending before it happened as the author provided too many hints, which blew away the effect of the ending a bit. The final moments of the book that sets everything down is too long, I found myself wanting it to end, but overall, it is better than I thought.
Rating: 6/10

Mayoi Neko Overrun! Anime (Stray Cats Theatre Specials)


Stray Cats Theatre Special 1
The first in six specials that came with the DVD/Blu-Ray of the anime, this first one is a series of random clips I guess the animators made for fun, around 3-4 mins each. The ‘opening sequence’ is a bit weird, and most of the clips are really short (a few seconds) gags, they might get a short laugh out of you but they’re not particularly fun. The one where you are looking through Takumi’s eyes was pretty good (and long enough), but its very average overall.

Stray Cats Theatre Special 2
Follows a similar pattern to the first one, about the same in quality and laughs. I liked some of the clips where it was similar to some in the first special but changed around a little, which was quite cool.

Stray Cats Theatre Special 3
This special’s not as great to watch, I don’t really see what the inspiration is for some of the clips as they seemed so random and pointless (like, it wasn't every funny, I must not be getting something…).

Stray Cats Theatre Special 4
More and more fan service as the specials progress, even the characters inside admits it, which was quite funny. Nozomi’s dream was weird and amusing at the same time.

Stray Cats Theatre Special 5
Not too bad, at least I’m getting used to what the content is going to be. I really do think using the time for a short story would be better than random clips.

Stray Cats Theatre Special 6
This one is probably the best with a few clips that link together, although they’ve gone as far as they can with the fan service, which was more funny rather than ecchi in my opinion. I think it’s best to skip these Specials as they don’t add anything and aren’t particularly good in their own right.

Overall:
I think Mayoi Neko Overrun! is not a bad anime, sure, I don’t understand why, with such a lower number of episodes, they went ahead and filled half of them with fillers, but it’s a fairly nice one to watch. Comparing to a more recent anime that I watched, it's a whole lot better than the first season of To Love-Ru. Sadly, this anime seems to have the trend that the episodes seem to get worse as you progress. Overall, the characters are a lot more favourable than the manga adaptation, and it’s more fun to watch this. However, I feel that they didn't expand on the Stray Cats Association enough, such that the title doesn't feel quite right. I hope they do a second season, as they have plenty of source material, and it felt like that the anime was just beginning when it finished.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mayoi Neko Overrun! Anime (Episodes 12, 13)


12 – Stray Cats, Decided
In actuality the final episode in relation to the plot (as the next one is just a recap), and it’s a good episode, the best in the last half of the anime or so. We get to finally know where Nozomi came from and she lets out her feelings, and it is quite good, interesting, and a lot of the humour that made the first couple of episodes so enjoyable has come back as well. Although it continues from the previous episode, it is a lot more realistic and focused, and doesn't feel like it’s wasting as much time. The credits scenes were also pretty cool and funny, I enjoyed that quite a bit. The way Nozomi wins the practice sports festival was amusing, and although it may not make sense at the time, it gets an indirect explanation later. The ending feels incomplete, as Nozomi expresses her love of Takumi to Fumino and Chise, so you feel it shouldn't have ended there. Overall, this episode makes ploughing through some of the other episodes worth it, and makes a nice ending.

13 – Stray Cats, Wrapped Up
I would have thought this recap would have just been a re-showing of various clips from the past episodes and that was it. It was still like that to a degree, but it was more of am onscreen commentary by the three main heroines, Fumino, Chise and Nozomi (in character). It was great, much more entertaining than I had expected and thought it was worth watching, the commentary was funny and I enjoyed it a lot to the point that I didn't mind that they were just filling in an extra episode reusing animation. I thought it was a great episode, hearing the character’s comments on past ‘events’.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Yamato Gensouki

Since I just finished Black Cat (which I thought was a decent manga, but wasn't particularly super duper awesome, and which I'll post up some comments later, probably much later) I wanted to read the other works of Kentaro Yabuki. I had a shot at his first work, and I was surprised at how short it was, only two volumes, but I do realise that he had to end it prematurely as it got rejected by Shounen Jump, which is a shame. The first volume is a write off, pretty boring and full of cliches, but it is the second volume where there's a lot of foreshadowing, and where it gets a whole lot more exciting and better. Why? Because all that talk about the hidden city in the first volume is starting to be realised here. Sure, the art isn't as awesome (he's really improved by the time of Black Cat and To Love-Ru), and the story is fairly average, it really shows that this is his first work, but it was just starting to get decent. The ending was too rushed and all that foreshadowing? We never get to find out anything, so sad, although the author had the intention of continuing, I doubt that would happen now, especially with the success of his other works overshadowing this one. Anyway, it was an okay read to pass the time, and I didn't regret reading it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Toy Review: Transformers Movie (2007) Blackout (Voyager)



Review: #42
Name: Blackout
Brand: Transformers
Allegiance: Decepticon
Line: 2007 Movie
Year of Release: 2007
Size Class: Voyager (Wave 1)
Variations: repainted as ROTF Grindor, and retooled with new head, hands and rescue raft as Movie Evac and ROTF Whirl

HELICOPTER MODE:



Blackout transforms into a fully licensed MH-53 Pave Low helicopter, as such, he is really accurate to the read thing. Some of the proportion is off, but it's forgivable given that this figure has to transform into a robot as well.



There is a 3pt landing gear, but for the life of me, I cannot flip the one underneath the cockpit out, nonetheless, due to the Scorponok cage at the back he still lays flat on the table. Something that is annoying is that the back section (the feet and the cage) of the helicopter doesn't like to stay attached, it is a bit too heavy for the friction pegs.



You might notice a weird thing at Blackout's back that is ruining the look of the helicopter, you would be look at the first gimmick, a cage for a mini scorponok figurine.



At the push of a button you can 'release' or 'send Scorponok into battle'. Most of the time, Scorponok will land the right way. The cage has a tendency to fall open on it's own due to the release clasp not being very secure.



The little Scorponok figurine is not transformable, sadly (it would been awesome if they could have added in a simple transformation into a robot), the tail is on a spring joint, but otherwise, it is a very immobile figure.



It's intricately detailed for it's size, but the only paint to be seen is a black paint wash (which is also present on Blackout).



The second gimmick is that when you press the plunger at the end of the tail, it's spins the rotor a few rotations. It's actually really fun when you keep activating it by rapidly pressing the trigger and the rotors keep spinning. It is a fun gimmick, too bad it compromises the figure so much.



The last gimmick, which I hadn't taken a picture of, is that you can attach the Deluxe class Scorponok toy to the underside, and their gimmicks are then geared together. So when you use the plunger, not only does it spin Blackout's rotors, but it also spins Scorponok's claws, this is a cleverly designed gimmick combination.



The rotor span is decent, and the helicopter feels good for it's size class. The tail rotor can also spin (manually).



The engineering that went into the transformation and the construction are definitely the weak points here. There are numerous reports of the cockpit not lining up (thankfully mine isn't one of them) and after a few transformations, none of the panels and parts fit together completely, there are very obvious seams everywhere the compromise the whole look. Anyway, I still like this toy as it was one of the very first figure I've picked up.

TRANSFORMATION:

Transformation is simple, but messy and annoying. If you remove the rotor the process is a whole lot easier. You can feel that the transformation strains some parts, so they will break or loosen (a lot) over time. One obvious flaw is how they jointed the side panels to which he arms are attached to, they only allow one plane of rotation, up and down, when you need at least some sort of outward motion it plug in the peg. As such, you have to really force the plastic outward enough to snap it into the pegs, very easy to break the toy. As if this wasn't hard enough, it is difficult to align the panels properly as there are grooves and ridges on the inside that catch the other bits and pieces. Definitely not my favourite transformation by far, and Blackout it one of the few Transformers where I leave it in a mode for ages before going to the other mode.

ROBOT MODE:



Out of the robot designs from the first movie, I really like Blackout's, even though this toy has a lot of departures from the on screen model, it still looks great and impressive.



Sadly he has a huge chunk of kibble on his back, pretty much the whole top half of the helicopter. I love the idea of the rotor blades folding up like a cape on his back, and it's achieved to a certain degree here, but could be done a lot better.



Due to a lot of mass being on his back, his legs and arms can seem a bit skimpy from the sides. The big panels doesn't look good from any other angle than the front. One good note with the backpack is that because it is so big, it touches the ground, meaning it acts as a third leg, Blackout is nearly impossible to fall over his back.



I like the head design, it conveys the alien feel of the Transformers very well. The two panels boxing in the head does detract from the look. I also like how the cockpit contorts a bit to form his chest, one of my favourite aspects of the figure.




The Scorponok cage rests on his back now, and you can either store him there or take him out, but he seems tiny compare to Blackout. In terms of ranged weapons, he has two missile pods on each shoulder.



If you don't like the big backpack, it is actually detachable, freeing up the look quite a lot. Blackout has big sturdy feet so he's still as stable as ever.



Detaching the rotor also helps ease the transformation. There are a lot of ratchets on this figure, giving you a satisfying clicking sound whenever you're posing him.



The detachable rotor is not only just for show, you can use it as a giant slashing spinning weapon. Granted, he's not using the small tail rotor like in the movie, but this is a good approximation. It's very intimidating, but again, the weapon is a bit too big, he has to rest it on his shoulder (there a peg for a hole in the weapon to rest on), it's unwieldy at best.



The spinning rotor gimmick still works in it's weapon form, and that makes Blackout really fun when you have this weapon out.



In terms of height, especially with the rotor removed, it is very noticeable that he's short. The reason for this is there is a lot of folding panels in the transformation, coupled with one third of the helicopter ending up on his back, and Blackout was either going to be short or skinny. I still like the robot mode a lot though.

OVERALL:

A decent toy, no means spectacular and quite a few flaws, the transformation can be annoying, but both the robot and vehicle mode are nice. This is an example of a toy with the gimmicks compromising the engineering, and as a result, the potential of the figure. I will always be partial to him as I loved his design, and one of the first Transformers that I've bought, but I wouldn't really recommend paying full price for him.

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A nicer gallery could be viewed here.

Credits: linked a few TFwiki.net pages in this review if you wanted more info on the respective links

Other toys reviews can be accessed on the 'My Transformers' page from the top of the blog.

Book Review: Eclipse



Review: #87
Title: Eclipse
Series: Twilight - 3rd book
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Read Before: yes
My Comments: I will say one thing before I criticize this book, and that is, it sure is addictive. Even though I cringe immediately from the descriptions and actions, the world of Twilight is really interesting, and it really hooked me in to find out more (even though I have read this one already, it still sucks me in). I do think that Eclipse started off as being one of the better books in the series (second best, after Twilight) but it was completely ruined once you went past roughly the halfway mark. What I find annoying is Bella and the way she thinks, and it isn’t good enough for the author to mention it once, she has to mention it again and again and again and again, and it’s not just this, it’s with practically everything, she repeats to the point where you cringe every time you read the same thing. I especially cringe and find annoying the way Bella thinks that everyone is weak and going to die, seriously, and thinks fully of self sacrifice when her ideas are really out of whack. The book expands a lot of the universe’s mythology and history, so that was quite insightful, but other than that… a strong beginning and a cringe worthy ending (the author had ruined it quite a bit with all the things that were happening).
Rating: 7.5/10

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mayoi Neko Overrun! Anime (Episodes 9, 10, 11)


09 – Stray Cats, Swam
Didn't feel this episode was a filler episode, but I could be wrong. Anyway, this is a better episode than the last three, and it was more interesting. The humour has died down but there were still some great bits, I loved the reactions of Fumino and Chise when Nozomi hugged Takumi, and the second half of the episode, where it focused on the relationship between Takumi and Fumino was quite nice. The atmosphere was good, but it felt a bit cliche and of course, as it is in these stories, contrived. Still, that’s not to say it didn't worked, but I didn't really understand what happened right at the end, where Fumino fell over, and then suddenly after the credits, they are both embarrassed while working, I’m missing something crucial… I get the gist of it, and this is a nice episode to watch, the chemistry between the two main characters is building up.

10 – Stray Cats, Waited
A mediocre episode, it dragged for far too long, making it extremely boring to chug through the whole thing, there was simply not enough plot. Although they did made it a bit of a mystery as to where Takumi went (well, we knew he was at Ieyasu’s house but doing what?), but when it was revealed at the end, it was a bit… underwhelming. The whole episodes revolves around this girl Otome picked up and we get things revealed piece by piece, but it took so long, and was so slow, that it is very easy to lose interest. A lot of things didn't add anything to the plot, just an overall boring episode.

11 – Stray Cats, Shattered
A weird episode overall with a lot of pointless events that fills up the time. The only parts where it made sense was the bits where these mysterious people seem to take interest in Nozomi and seek to find her. Other than that… there were many cringe worth moments, and the whole plot is very weak and stupid. Even in the world of the anime, it was stupid. Nozomi is acting a bit weird in this episode but viewers should easily guess what is up (especially if you know a bit about the story beforehand). The constant fights over Takumi (and his cluelessness) still hold its charms, but it’s a below-average episode (yes, I know it is actually based on Volume 2 of the light novel, but the plot is still stupid).

Book Review: Black Heart of Jamaica



Review: #86
Title: Black Heart of Jamaica
Series: Cat Royal (not official name) - 5th book
Author: Julia Golding
Read Before: no
My Comments: Starts of a bit bland and doesn't really show much promise, but it does get better and more varied. It is one of those books where it’s best if you’ve at least read another book in the series in order to understand everything. There’s a lot of witty humour and tongue-in-cheek which is really amusing, although I do think the story sometimes gets a bit out of hand, like you don't know what the whole point of the thing that just happened was, or you’re wondering why that happened and that it doesn't really fit with the overall arc of the story. Nevertheless, it was a really enjoyable read, with the characters very interesting, it is a bit sad to see how many characters were kinda dismissed as soon as their uses were over, maybe in the sequels we get to see them again. Sometimes I can't guess or understand many of the characters’ motives, as it seemed to contradict something else they did earlier or go against their nature. Overall I think this series of books is more or less feels like bits and pieces bunched together with an overall story, not that it’s bad, but just that sometimes it feels unnecessary, but a book worthy of reading, especially since there’s not much action in this.
Rating: 7/10

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mayoi Neko Overrun! Anime (Episodes 5, 6, 7, 8)


05 – Stray Cats, Cried
Not as funny as the previous episode, but the theme for this one is so much better. I like how the plot so far has been ‘normal’, this one is about Chise wanting to become part of Takumi’s group, realistic enough, even though what happened were not. I thought it was done up quite nicely and I enjoyed watching it, the pacing was a bit slow. Kaho appears to be a little bit ‘evil’, she manipulates Chise but then tries to be innocent about it, it was the same when she appeared in the previous episode, she kinda feels like an antagonist. The relationships between the characters do have more depth to it, so it’s an engaging watch. By this time, I’m also loving the opening and ending theme song…

06 – Stray Cats, Troubled
This episode is not as captivating as the others, and felt that they were padding out the time. The plot wasn't that great either, and a lot of junk happened, that added nothing to the story. I got bored a various bits, and the gags weren’t as great this time around, granted, some were still okay but most of them were just like, “hmmm, next”. I was waiting for it to finish actually and the end result, the music video that they had made in the end, wasn't really worth the twenty mins needed to get there.

07 – Stray Cats, Rode
Best to skip this episode, as it is not only the worse episode ever, but is also a major filler. It’s annoying when they do this type of episodes, chucking in something, like a ‘typical episode’ of an anime that a character watches in the series. It wasn't funny, interesting, and was plenty boring. Major rip off from other mecha anime (which I guess was the point), quite stupid really. I do think, with only thirteen episodes in the anime, why do they even have to put in a filler episode, it’s not as if there weren’t enough source material, and it still costs them pretty much the same to create this sort of episode, but as fillers goes, there are more terrible ones, overall, still disappointing.

08 – Stray Cats, Drawn Out
Another filler episode, but it’s better than the previous one and is quite amusing. The whole episode revolves around the cast playing a block game (similar to Jenga), and it gets good after the first half, where only Fumino, Chise, Nozomi and Takumi is left. It gets quite funny after that and the ending, where the three of them are fighting for one particular block, and debating in their minds, that was quite cool (of course, Takumi has no idea what is happening…), the atmosphere was tense and makes you want to know how it will turn out. I wouldn't say it’s a good episode, but it’s one where you don’t feel you have completely wasted your time, and it was nice to see the reactions of the three main heroines.

Book Review: Saving Mississippi



Review: #85
Title: Saving Mississippi
Series: N/A
Author: Cornelia Funke
Read Before: no
My Comments: A surprisingly good book that I found myself easily absorbed in it. Thought it would be pretty weak, due to the whole cover and story being clearly targeted at younger girls. I only read this one because I like the author, she has managed to make a simple plot quite interesting, and it was even a little bit suspenseful for a time. It was a fun read and the characters were likeable, although very kid-oriented I really liked the ‘bad guy’ and how everything worked out, I kept finding myself looking forward to the next time I’m going to read after I’ve put down the book.
Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mayoi Neko Overrun! Anime (Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4)


01 – Stray Cats, Dashed
I found it quite fun to watch and a lot more interesting than the manga. I haven’t read the light novel yet so I can't compare, but this first episode was cool, and it doesn't seem to have awkward and forced moments like the manga does (or maybe I just know what to expect?). Some bits I did get lost on, the plot was a bit weak and irrational but mostly it was awesome. I loved the ending when Nozomi showed up, as it was funny and ironic. Fumino is also mostly bearable, and is a more likeable character. Overall, a good episode that is worth watching.

02 – Stray Cats, Smiled
The second episode keeps up the standard from the first episode, and probably is better as not as many weird things happen. Still, it seems to lack any depth in the plot, and things seem a bit scattered, it’s like, there’s no central ‘anchor’ so it kinda floats everywhere. A lot of good scenes, and the gags were quite nice, the dialogue was good, I think it’s a nice carefree episode to watch, and surprisingly, not boring at all.

03 – Stray Cats, Found
This anime is turning to be surprisingly good; I wasn't terribly interested at the start but just thought of watching it on a whim. Glad I did now, as this is another great episode. The characters are quite likeable, and I mean all the characters, there isn’t any annoying character that has turned up yet. The chemistry between Takumi and Fumino and then between Takumi and Nozomi is great. At the end when Takumi gets Nozomi to come back was quite heart-warming I guess, one of the better scenes that I had seen. Of course, you can't forget the humour, which is decent, but nothing that will make you laugh out loud. The post credit scene was pretty cool, and the confession of Fumino to Takumi earlier at the river side was nice as well. I still don’t think the “Stray Cats” reference quite works, but that’s just me (I meant as a reference to the orphans, not the shop or later, the school club).

04 – Stray Cats, Undressed
In some ways this is a great episode, in others not so much. Quite a bit of ecchi scenes, but at least it didn't go too far, but I do think it’s just a bit too much. Then again, they’re at a hot spring, so they will put as much as possible… Numerous scenes were hilarious, especially when they get lost in the mountains, when Kaho and Takumi parallels what is happening at the same time with Ieyasu and Daigoro, it was classic. The start was a bit weird, coz it didn't make sense (I was thinking, that is so unlike Fumino’s personality) but it worked out fine, and numerous gags were the same way, not making sense at the start but then it worked out great in the end. The table tennis scene was pointless, and obviously a filler scene, it was boring too. In many ways, Ieyasu reminded me of Saruyama from To Love-Ru, then again, the do share of the same voice actor and have a similar role. The ending was nice, and loved how Takumi was getting Nozomi to protect him but she declined, and Takimi commented that she ‘betrayed’ him. I don’t think it’s one of the best episodes, but it’s a good one.

Book Review: The BFG



Review: #84
Title: The BFG
Series: N/A
Author: Roald Dahl
Read Before: yes
My Comments: Not too bad a book but outstandingly simple, especially it’s plot, I think it’s because I’ve been spoilt by some really good books with complex plots, that this books feels childish to me. Credit must be given to the author for his incredible imagination though, most of the book has a lot of very interesting inventions from his minds, and that’s what makes his books so great. It’s only now that I see that they are aimed at younger readers, it really shows, but still an amusing read. I really like the illustrations that accompany the text and they provide a great visual cue to what is going on. I would only recommend it if you don't mind a straightforward story.
Rating: 5.5/10

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Toy Review: Transformers PCC Steamhammer w/ Constructicons



Review: #41
Name: Steamhammer w/ Constructicons
Brand: Transformers
Allegiance: Decepticon
Line: PowerCore Combiners
Year of Release: 2010
Size Class: Commander with Drones (Wave 4)
Variations: none as of this date

VEHICLE MODE:



Steamhammer transforms into a bulldozer in the classic Constructicon green, the blade is disproportionally huge though, and takes up most of the mass. I love the silver 'grit' applications on the blade. The cockpit is a small affair, made worse by that only the front window is painted black, all other sides are unpainted green plastic (even though windows are molded in).



There are the characteristic PowerCore Combiner blue ports sticking out the back, the other two are right behind the blade, so they aren't too obvious there. There are some blades/hooks at the back and he features a Minicon port on top of the cockpit.



While a good looking bulldozer at first glance, due to most of the mass being shifted into the blade, the rest of the vehicle suffers. There are gaps everywhere, and looking from the top, you can see the arm joints, head and all sorts of other kibble. It's not a disaster, but far from the best alternate mode out there.

DRONE VEHICLES:



Being a 5-pack, instead of a Minicon, for the extra cost, you get four auto-transforming drones (too bad they don't have robot modes though). The first one I'm covering is a steamroller. I actually like this one, although it feels a bit cheap and hollow, the two wheels and roller spin. Again, there are silver paint wash on the roll which adds great visual appeal. The only bad thing is that it doesn't have a clearly defined driver's compartment.



The second is a front end loader. The scoop can adjust, but the degree of spread is very limited. This one is a bit bland but the details are adequately painted. There is a conveyor belt thing running through the middle and I love the look of that. I forgot to add that since these are the "Constructicons", they are all construction vehicles.



Next up is a plow drone, I think the most boring one of the set. There's a black paint wash on the plow, which is a nice touch, fairly plain overall. All drone vehicles have a Minicon port, but honestly, they're such a small size (about Legends) that plugging in a Minicon kinda looks ridiculous.



The last is a drill drone, my favourite of the set, primarily because of such a unique alt mode. This makes me want more than ever that they could have engineered a robot mode into these. The drill can tilt up and down, again, it is limited.



They look great together as a set, the construction theme works really well, and although they don't share any common colours, they still mash together okay.

TRANSFORMATION:

A simple transformation, really simple in fact, but it works well. Unfortunately, this causes some kibble issues in the modes but I'll get into that later. The one thing that causes worry would be the hip tabs, it tabs really tightly for combined and vehicle mode, so when it comes to pull them off, since the tabs are thin, you're bending them and causing a lot of stress. I think, over time, they will snap off very easily. I like the transformation into torso mode, and how well everything clicks and pegs together, so it forms a very solid figure. Apart from the tabs, I think this is a nice transformation.

ROBOT MODE:



I like this robot mode, many people probably found faults in him, but for all his flaws, I really like it. I love his blade weapons on the underside of his hand, I like the kibble treads hanging out onto the sides (kinda look like jetpacks actually) and I like the chest design. The only thing I don't like about him is how small he is!



All that mass in the robot is situated on his back, in the form of the vehicle blade. It's such a shame as it's a huge chunk and ruins the look. At least you use the combiner plugs as solid heel spurs, he won't fall over any time soon.



The head is an interesting design, very tubular in shape, but he's got a nice grimace. It's only on a swivel joint, and he doesn't feature a lightpipe.



As I said, Steamhammer is really short, shorter than what a Scout should be. I know that the 5-pack commanders are usually smaller but this is ridiculous, he feels fragile because of this smallness.



Steamhammer has some great joints but the killer is that everything gets in the way of each other. The legs are relatively free, but the cockpit protrudes out of his elbows which hits the blade kibble on his back. The result is that he cannot put his arms in a normal resting position. I still love this robot mode, and for some reason, he reminds me of ROTF Dirt Boss.

COMBINED MODE:



Steamhammer's combined mode is the BEST out of the whole PowerCore Combiners line, I am not exaggerating, he is the only one in which I liked the instant I saw the first photos of him. He is well proportioned, he's also the only 5-pack originated molds to feature a Minicon port in his chest.



The drones he comes packed with are really stable and some of the best ones produced, and what's more, they're the only ones with dedicated thumbs!! Yes, as weird as the reason, this was why I was sold on this set, thumbs, it just makes him look so much better. I also like how in torso mode, Steamhammer doesn't have the feel of being too thin. One little complaint would also be that his chest unclips just a bit too easily.



He's a bit shorter than Bombshock but just looks so much better, the drones do a good job of acting as feet and arms, I think it's the blocky look that makes them so much better. Another reason would be that there isn't a weird 'spacer' gap between the 'knee' and the attached drone that is prevalent on other PowerCore Combiners. Steamhammer's legs pretty much look integrated instead of something tacked on.



Head is a bit unusual, but I've warmed to it. It looks menacing somehow, sad thing is that is it really limited in how much the head can turn. A few degrees and that's it, as his 'collar' gets into the way. I do like how he has antennas on either side of his head. Steamhammer manages to avoid looking like a Devastator rip off even though he is tributing that figure.



This is where having a few toys from the line can be fun, I've attached the three Minicons I had so far (during the time I took the photo) and Steamhammer looks quite cool with these 'power ups'. The possibility of this guy is decent, but the lack of elbows hurts, a lot, the way they are bent out the sides makes all these PowerCore Combiners look awesome, but that's the price you pay for automatic transformations.



Took forever for this guy to get to my place, and I wished he was released in the early waves rather than at such a late time where a lot of people's already viewing this line as something they don't like. Steamhammer is an excellent figure for the line, and shows how great PowerCore Combiners could have been, alas, it was not to be and even this guy was fairly difficult to find...

OVERALL:

While I like Steamhammer, he is not my favourite PowerCore Combiner (Smolder and Undertow are better) BUT, he is the best 5-pack out there, with a good solid Commander toy and four well designed drones, it is the best value you're going to get with the options out there. If you're even a tiny bit interested in the concept, there's no better toy to start than this one right here, Steamhammer with Constructicons.

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Credits: linked a few TFwiki.net pages in this review if you wanted more info on the respective links

Check out other toys reviews in the 'My Transformers' page which you can access at the top of the blog.
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