Sunday, April 30, 2017

Toy Review: Transformers Masterpiece MP-34 Cheetus (Beast Wars) (Cheetor)


Review:  #376
Name:  Cheetor
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Maximal
Line:  Masterpiece
Year of Release:  2017
Size Class:  Masterpiece (MP-34)
Mold Status:  new

PACKAGING AND CONTENTS:


The second Beast Wars Masterpiece figure after Optimus Primal, Cheetus (from now on, referred to as Cheetor), comes in the same black box.


The Masterpiece logo is suitably designed using the same aesthetics as the Beast Wars logo.


Cheetor comes with the standard card showcasing the tech specs and artwork, a fold-out set of instructions, and various accessories.

BEAST MODE:


Cheetor, naturally, transforms into a cheetah.  The problem with Cheetor is that he transforms from a lean beast mode into a bulky robot, and one mode has to give.  However, the designer did a fantastic job of not comprising either mode too much.


There are two main flaws of beast mode, the first is that the robot feet is visible behind the hind legs, it's not too horrible since you'll mainly view Cheetor from the front anyway.  The second, more notable flaw, is that the waist does not lock, and so it will flop around if you pick him up, it's very annoying.


As expected, the beast mode relies heavily on various panels and he cheats a bit since the gut and the tail section are both detachable pieces, that transform into his robot mode guns.


Size-wise, he is bigger than expected, almost as big as Optimus Primal himself, despite the price difference.  However, Cheetor is naturally not as heavy and not as complex.  Above is a comparison against Generations Rhinox and Generations Rattrap as well.


The spots are beautifully painted on, and the spotty application replicates the CGI model from the show.  The other neat thing is that his whiskers are separate flexible pieces.


The mouth can open and close and the head has a bit of motion.


The beast mode is quite poseable, the front legs has multiple joints including swivels.  The rear legs are more static but still have various joints, enough for heaps of poses.


Cheetor comes with two additional faces for beast mode, the first is a surprised face.


The surprised face is great for replicating the scenes where Cheetor comes to a sudden halt after running flat out.


The other face is an eyes-narrowed, suspicious face viewing to the left side.


Cheetor holds together reasonably well in beast mode apart from the loose waist as mentioned.  Swapping heads will also invariably detach the head section from the back panels.


A fantastic beast mode given what it had to achieve.  It is leaps and bounds better than Cheetor toy thus far.

TRANSFORMATION:

You may expect Cheetor to have a complicated transformation given how great both modes are but surprisingly, it's not too bad.  He has a heavy reliance on panels as expected and there is even a faux beast mode which is disappointing for a Masterpiece figure.  The trickier parts remain aligning the panels just right to peg them together.

ROBOT MODE:


Cheetor's robot mode, simply put, is stunning.  It is crazily show-accurate, right down to the shiny gold metallic parts.


One of the best things too is he now has the show-accurate crossed beast legs on his back.  The biggest piece of kibble are the beast panels behind his arms, otherwise, Cheetor is very clean.


The headsculpt is sublime, from the spots on his cheeks to the metallic golden crest.


In terms of size-, Cheetor is taller than your average Deluxe (above is Generations Combiner Wars Swindle), but he is lankier.


Above is a shot with most of the Season 1 Maximal cast, now we only need a decent Dinobot (the Universe one is terrible).


Poseability is excellent, as you'd expect.  Cheetor forgoes ratchets for tight swivel joints which work equally well.


There are no problems with balance while he is in a standing pose, but due to the combination of his heels and angled feet, he's trickier to balance in action poses.


The chest is a fake beast head, which is somewhat disappointing and as a result, looks very flat.  This is in order to be screen-accurate.  The real beast head tucks behind, and one thing to note is that you have to be careful since the whiskers will be permanently bent if you just shove it in roughly during transformation.


Cheetor comes with two weapons, the first is the gun that used to form the belly of the beast mode.  This is the gun he used in the show, and also the one derived from the original's "gut gun".


As with most Masterpiece figures, there's a corresponding slot in his hands to the peg on the handle so that he can firmly hold onto it.


The fingers are all jointed as one and it is difficult to insert the gun.  Also, for some reason, the hands are easily detachable.


Cheetor has just enough articulation to hold the weapon with both hands.


When not in use, you can store the gun on his back.  The beast mode legs also have joints which allow it to lift up, so they don't get in the way.


The other gun is formed from the tail section of beast mode.


Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the handle is smooth and so the gun loves to slip out of Cheetor's hands.  It's frustrating.


It doesn't look too great as a weapon thanks to the organic look but is inspired by the original toy's weapon.


Again, if you don't want to use it, then it can store behind his waist.


Cheetor comes with two additional faces, the first is a cheeky smile.


While the second is a bigger smile...  If you look carefully, this face has a bigger smile and both eyes are large, compared to the other which has a smaller smile and the right eye is slightly smaller.  Why they bothered giving two faces where the differences are so subtle, no idea.


Despite what it may look, Cheetor holds together solidly.


Once again, the Masterpiece line astounds you with its accuracy and update of the character to present-day standards.

OVERALL:


Cheetor is a brilliant figure.  He has some flaws such as the flimsy waist in beast mode, and the loose gun in robot mode.  However, on the whole, the designers have done such a great job of translating the show model into a toy mode that transforms.  Cheetor is definitely recommended for Beast Wars fans.

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For other Transformers reviews, have a look at this page.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Book Review: Dragonar Academy Volume 2


Review:  #656
Title:  Dragonar Academy Volume 2
Series:  Dragonar Academy - 2nd volume
Author:  Shiki Mizuchi
Read Before:  no
Comments:  At the end of the previous volume, an undead dragon was rampaging around the village.  Of course, even the current most powerful people Rebecca and Princess Sylvia couldn’t take it down; it’s only the protagonist Ash who could defeat the threat.  Since Eco is a human shaped dragon, a new power is introduced and Ash gets armor that is magically fashioned.  It looks quite good, but once the undead dragon was vanquished, the rest of the volume is spent with the Kingdom’s first born Princess and heir arriving, who is an imposing character.  Ash ends up spending a lot of his time acting cool and sticking up for Sylvia which can get overbearing at times.  The plot so far is a bit too predictable but not a bad story nonetheless.
Rating:  6/10

Friday, April 28, 2017

Tropic Thunder (2008)


Tropic Thunder is an action comedy film where the plot is a little bit different than expected.  It starts off well with some fake commercials and movie trailers, and then begins proper with the arguing cast filming a war movie.  It breaks down and blows the budget, in a stroke of inspiration, the director decides to throw the cast into the jungles of Vietnam into a style of reality show.  Using the footage of the cast trekking out of the jungle with some staged scenes, they hoped to make the movie out of this.  Of course, it isn't that easy and they have mistakenly entered into the domain of a real drug gang.  This allows the movie to have numerous humourous scenes and Tropic Thunder isn't shy to make fun of anything and everything.  The characters are over-the-top exaggerated personalisations and some of the dialogue are clever.  When Tropic Thunder works, it's fantastic but a lot of the film does get bogged down by scenes that doesn't make sense or tries too hard to be funny such that it fails.  Overall, it's entertaining and has some very memorable scenes.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Toy Review: Transformers Masterpiece MP-36 Megatron


Review:  #375
Name:  Megatron
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Masterpiece
Year of Release:  2017
Size Class:  Masterpiece (MP-36)
Mold Status:  new

PACKAGING AND CONTENTS:


Ever since the second version of MP Optimus Prime was released, fans have been awaiting the updated version of Megatron, and finally, 15 numbered released later, we have Masterpiece MP-36 Megatron.


He comes in a very nice black box that's standard for the Masterpiece line, and this is one of the biggest boxes in the line yet, which is fitting for the Decepticon leader.


Inside, in addition to the figure, you'll find a bunch of accessories, of which it will be covered later.  As a list, you get:  three additional faces, stock, silencer, Key to Vector Sigma, headgear, laser dagger, energy mace, a damaged chestplate and a blaster.


You'll also get a card showcasing artwork on one side and tech specs on the other.


Finally, there is the instructions booklet, which is a proper booklet this time around, including prototype and design sketches on the back.  All in all, you get plenty of accessories in this package.

GUN MODE:


Being an interpretation of G1 Megatron, he transforms into a gun, an approximation of a Walther P-38 pistol.


While he lacks the chrome of MP-5, all the grey is painted and thanks to some die-cast parts, he is hefty in your hands.


He is smaller and more realistic in size to a real gun now, and holding him in your hands is comfortable.


As a byproduct of the complicated transformation, he has a lot of panel lines but that's easily forgiven considering the enormous challenge the design had to overcome in order to create two amazing modes.


The other neat thing is that the trigger works as it is spring loaded.  Due to transformation, he doesn't actually shoot anything.


In terms of size, he is easily bigger and heftier than a standard Deluxe or even a Voyager classed figure.  He compacts a lot in gun mode though so you may be surprised at how it expands so much in robot mode.


The scope slots onto the top via a series of clips and stays very securely there.


The stock slots into the rear of the grip, and the silencer slots tightly into the barrel.  The end result is a bigger and more impressive looking gun.


It looks really nice although if you have a clear display stand to prop it up, it makes Megatron look even more impressive.


Unfortunately, due to the barrel being painted, and the scope being a tight fit, there will be minor paint wear near the tip.  It's not too bad as long as you be gentle but just take note it won't be as pristine anymore.


An impressive gun mode, made all the more better when you realize that it did not compromise the robot mode at all.

TRANSFORMATION:

To be expected, Megatron has a complicated transformation, but the instructions are clear and there's nothing too tricky.  It will be confusing the first time around since there are a lot of small pieces that need to be manipulated to achieve the looks of both modes.  Pretty much everything about the transformation is impressive, from how the grip forms the legs, to the arms from the sides of the gun, to how the chest and head is cleverly hidden.  Perhaps even more impressive is how despite so many pieces, Megatron never once felt flimsy during transformation.  The only scary thing here is how tightly the hips are the first time around, as you need proper leverage and force in order to pull the hips apart.

ROBOT MODE:


One of the focuses in this second rendition of Masterpiece Megatron is a robot mode that's accurate to the G1 cartoon, which meant a bulkier robot.  The designer has succeeded and Megatron looks like he has just stepped out from your TV screen into real life.


Interestingly, despite all the panel lines in gun mode, and the explosion of parts during transformation, the robot mode is very clean.  Sure, the back is gappy but this is nothing and does not detract from the figure at all.


The default head is a grimace and the eyes are painted a shiny metallic red, which looks very nice.


Of course, here are a slew of comparisons with other figures.  First off is against MP-10 Optimus (Hasbro version featured above).  Megatron is slightly taller.


Now a comparison against MP-13 Soundwave (Hasbro version featured above) and MP-29 Shockwave.  Megatron is taller than both.


And lastly, is a comparison against Generations Combiner Wars Megatron (Leader), just for a reference against a "standard" figure.


Megatron has his fusion cannon on his right arm.  If you have some batteries, there are actually some light effects.


Once again, all the grey is painted on, which makes it all the more important to be careful during transformation since parts will rub against each other.


His feet are die-cast which helps stabilize the figure in a lot of poses, the ratcheted ankles help.


There are a variety of gimmicks thanks to his numerous accessories.  First off, his head can be swapped, and if you take off the head, you're treated to sculpting underneath that replicates the x-ray sequence in the original film.


The first alternate face Megatron has is an open mouthed angry/shouting face.


This face is perfect for firing poses.


The second alternate face is a smiling/gleeful face.


This face is perfect for poses showcasing the cruel and sadistic nature of Megatron.


Finally, there is his damaged face and battle-damaged chestplate, based from the original movie.


Swapping the chestplate is easy since it slots up and down into place, and even with only two pieces swapped out, it completely changes the look of the figure.


In terms of weapons, naturally he has his fusion cannon, but he also comes with a blaster.


Like with most Masterpiece figures, the handles of the weapon has pegs which correspond to slots in Megatron's hands, and it's actually easier to slot in than a lot of the other figures.


You can also take the clear effect part from the laser dagger to create a shooting effect for the blaster, which is a neat use of the piece.


The blaster is also a nice piece to compliment the battle-damaged look.


Next weapon is the energy mace, which is cast in purple clear plastic but doesn't feel fragile, thankfully.


A slight annoyance is that you need to detach one of Megatron's hands in order to then slot the mace in its place instead.  Would have preferred the hand rotate back into the forearm and the mace's handle attaching to a peg there.


The chain means that you can't have poses where Megatron is in mid-swing.


However, that problem is solved when you swap out the chain for an articulated piece with three joints.


You can have an epic looking clash of Megatron vs Optimus.


Then you have the mind-control headgear.


The headgear easily slots onto Megatron's head.


It is a bit of a superficial accessory since it's probably something you'll try once and then pack it away, never to be used again.


The same goes for the Key to Vector Sigma as something that you'll use once and then never again.


Megatron can hold it in his hand, the Key is made of die-cast plastic.  Megatron's hands are also very well articulated, with separate joints for the index finger, thumb, and the rest of the fingers as one piece.


Finally, there is the laser dagger, which comprises of two pieces, the handle and the blade itself which is transparent purple plastic.


He can hold the dagger in either hand.  The hands have wrist articulation as well as some up/down movement thanks to transformation.


But wait!  There's more!  If you thought the stock and silencer were useless in this mode, then never fear as there are various uses for it.  The first is that you can combine the scope and silencer into a "telescopic laser cannon", which actually is similar to AOE Lockdown's head cannon (but Megatron's came first).


You can rearrange the stock to become a stand, which is pretty awesome and a practical use for the piece.


Via a series of joints for the stand, you can have Megatron in a flying pose too.  The stand attaches via a peg and also a grip onto Megatron's crotch, and it is very tight to attach and detach.


Lastly, and this is one of the best use of the pieces, you combine the stock, scope and silencer into Megatron's "particle beam cannon".


It comes complete with two handles for Megatron to hold onto when he uses it.


As mentioned, Megatron holds together well in robot mode, and does not feel at all fragile.  Even when posing him, pieces don't detach.


All of Megatron's major joints are ratchets so he can hold most dynamic poses.  His footprint is large and since he is effectively kibble-less, nothing gets in the way of his limbs.


An impressive robot mode since it replicates the bulky look perfectly, with does not feel hollow or gappy at all.  The excellent articulation and various gimmicks make Megatron a fun figure to fiddle with.

OVERALL:


MP-36 Megatron is one of the most impressive feats of engineering yet for the Transformers line.  From a realistic gun to a well proportioned and unhampered robot mode, this version of Megatron is truly a Masterpiece and the best rendition of the character yet.  Megatron is definitely one not to be missed.

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For other Transformers reviews, have a look at this page.

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And here are the rest of the photos taken for the review, but not used.











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