Zob's Thoughts on Legacy Deluxe-Class Crankcase, Dead End, and Pointblank... but Where's Skullgrin?!

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Zobovor

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Nov 22, 2022, 8:58:56 PM11/22/22
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Pre-ordered these guys back in August from Hasbro Pulse, and while they were originally projecting a January 2023 ship date, they actually showed up today. Which I'm fine with.

I guess I must have forgotten to order Skullgrin, so I punched in a pre-order for him a few days ago. I think he's already in transit, but he didn't quite arrive in time for me to talk about him today. Maybe tomorrow.

CRANKCASE

So, the opening price point toys for 1988 were the Triggerbots and Triggercons, toys with flip-out guns that were either spring- or gear-driven. Crankcase was fairly unremarkable, with a simple transformation and no particularly memorable media appearances (in Marvel Comics, he sort of followed Thunderwing around as part of his posse). Perhaps the most interesting thing that can be said of him is that his spring-loaded guns came right through his windshield, evidently breaking the glass every time.

I would not have expected Crankcase to be a remold of Skids. To do a redeco of a blue van as another blue van is a bit unusual. But, to my surprise, it ended up working rather well. It's a clever way of giving us a character who is, arguably, just not important enough to get his own dedicated mold.

So, the robot legs and pelvis are the same as Skids, and the biceps and forearms and fists are the same. The shoulders are new, though (there are faux wheels molded right next to the real wheels to make it look like they're really thick), as is the robot chest and head sculpt. My copy is a little loose and floppy, with a left arm that doesn't like to stay posed. The wheels in his feet tuck in the same way they do on Skids, but I think Crankcase looks better with all four wheels visible in robot mode, so I like to leave them out. He has an orange painted face with yellow painted eyes, so they really pop.

He comes with the same single-barrelled pistol Skids came with, in a smoky translucent black color (same as his windshield). He can also carry his truck grill-and-headlights assembly sideways as a gun, but it looks bad. (The only reason it comes off at all is to create some fidelity to his G1 look.) There are also a couple of tiny Triggercon-style guns tucked away under his windshield, but they're so puny as to be basically useless. They were a little bit bigger in concept art, alas. If you position the windshield assembly on his back, he can kinda-sorta ready the guns for combat. But they're so small.

Transformation is basically like Skids, but the arms tuck away differently because of the alternate shoulder design, plus the cabin windows are different. The headlights-and-grill piece plugs into the front to complete the truck mode. (Crankcase has rather infamously been spotted in stock photography with an upside-down grill and an upside-down Decepticon symbol. The grill would definitely be possible to do, especially if you're just a hired photographer who has no idea what these toys are supposed to look like. The Decepticon symbol I can't figure out, though, because that piece doesn't even move on the final toy. It must have been a misassembled factory sample or something.)

In vehicle mode, he's approximately Skids-shaped, but the different front window, roof, cabin doors, and front section go a long way towards helping to differentiate him. He also has new side tanks and a new (fake) rear spare tire, complete with deco that pays tribute to the stickers on the G1 toy. All in all, it's really nicely done. And the Triggercons are still visible through the windshield. He doesn't have to break it this time!

Nonnef Productions does offer an upgrade kit, which includes guns that look like the ones on the G1 toy (in either blue or black). It's the first upgrade kit I bought before actually owning the toy! You can mount them to the holes on the roof, and they are assembled on an armature so you can have them on the roof of the vehicle, towards the front as per the G1 toy, or over his shoulders in robot mode. They really do help a lot with allowing Crankcase to achieve his signature look. Nonnef also offers hubcap covers for him as well.

I love that Hasbro continues to look at the obscure ranks of the lesser-known characters, and tries to give us updated versions of them when it's practical. I strongly suspect the upcoming Needlenose toy might get rejiggered into Windsweeper at some point down the road. I imagine it won't be too long before they get to all the Triggerbots and Triggercons. (I can imagine a Backstreet/G2 Drench pairing, or an Override/G2 Bulletbike pairing...)

DEAD END

The Combiner Wars version of Dead End wasn't the worst toy ever, but the new Legacy version enjoys much closer fidelity to his on-screen cartoon representation, which I always love. He's five inches tall as a robot, mostly maroon and black with a silver metallic painted upper torso (this piece was die-cast metal on the G1 toy).

Dead End's cartoon design was just wacky. There were so many aspects of it that didn't make sense. The wheels on his shoulders were, like, twice as big as the wheels on his legs. His leg wheels were actually on the insides of his legs, a result of the way the G1 toy transformed. He had this strange component on his chest hat looked like a sliding bar to push his head up for robot mode (like Slag's fists), even though his toy wasn't designed this way. He also had purple eyes, despite being a Decepticon (the rule about Decepticons having red eyes was pretty much thrown out the window by late season two).

This toy manages all of that except the wheels on the insides of the legs. There is some sculpting that suggests some faux wheels there, but they're not painted or anything. (It's possible to mistransform him so the wheels are facing the insides, if you really want to.) His feet are kind of puny, since they're just the car spoiler flipped back, but nobody's perfect, I suppose. Just one more thing for Dead End to complain about, no doubt. He comes with two identical guns, black with metallic purple painted highlights.

The toy's transformation is novel and kind of ingenous, and a lot of it was done with the intent of getting his robot mode right. The wheels on his shoulders shift, as do the panels on his forearms, and then his head tucks away and his arms detach and come together where his head used to be. The car's hood and windshield are folded up on his back, and his feet become the rear bumper and spoiler. The spoiler sections are difficult to clip together so that they lock, but it can be done with some experimentation. (His transformation in the show was phoned in, and basically consisted of him laying down. Seriously, the windshield and all the car parts just sort of sprouted out of his back impossibly.)

His car mode is five inches long, and while it doesn't appear to be a licensed Porsche 928 (there is no indicaiton of licensing on his packaging), it's incredibly close. The headlights, the windows, everything looks right to my eyes. He's got sculpted detail for the off-center racing stripe, which are yellow with a silver strip, just like the G1 toy. The racing stripes were stickers for G1, which were part of his look in Marvel Comics but not part of his cartoon animation model. But, it's a distinctive part of his look so I don't mind that they included it.

He splits apart just like Drag Strip when combining with Motormaster to form Menasor, and clips into the existing Menasor arm framework in a similar fashion. The button to disengage his upper half from his lower half is in fact that faux sliding bar on his chest, so after 36 years, it finally has a purpose! And, yes, you can swap parts to build Drag End and Dead Strip if you really want to, but good luck transforming them.

I think Dead End is my favorite Stunticon (he's just unabashedly miserable, like I probably would be if social convention didn't dictate that I pretend to be happy sometimes) and I feel like they did a good job with him. I won't hate buying the toy again when and if they do a version in G2 colors.

POINTBLANK

The toy is officially marketed as "Autobot Pointblank & Autobot Peacemaker," which is quite a mouthful. Anyway, a lot of people were speculating that the Power of the Primes version of Counterpunch was going to get repurposed as Pointblank (using the Decepticon robot transformation, and maybe just ignoring the Punch robot mode) but instead we get an all-new toy.

He's about six inches tall as a robot, decked out in red and turquoise with some black. (His color mapping is a bit weird, since the G1 toy had white painted windows, but this toy has a blue translucent cockpit.) Where the 1987 toy had a super-skinny cockpit body, this version is more proportionate, more like his animation model. No room for the twin Autobot symbols on his shoulders, though. The Headmasters cartoon that aired in Japan used its own character designs for most of the 1987 characters (possibly because the American designs weren't ready yet), so in Japan the character (called Blanker) had dynamic anime styling, with two large horns on his helmet. In America, Pointblank had a single fin on his helmet, and that's the look the Legacy toy was based upon.

In the past, during toy lines like Siege, we would get Targetmaster characters (Crosshairs, Spinister, etc.) but we'd have to buy their Nebulan partners separately as a Battlemaster or whatnot. This time, we actually get a Targetmaster who comes with his own partner. Peacemaker doesn't follow the same design as the previous Siege partners, though. He's smaller and simpler, probably to fit within the existing budget for a Deluxe-class toy. So, it's sort of bittersweet, since it's great to get the dynamic duo in one package, but a bit disappointing that he doesn't follow the existing design parameters for so many Battlemasters that have been sold since 2019.

So, Peacemaker is only about 1.75" tall (even the G1 version is taller than that!) and the only moving parts he's got are the hinge at his waist and another hinge for his gun barrel. His legs are fused together and his arms don't move at all. So, we've really reverted back to the G1 era of Targetmaster design here, for better or for worse. He has a bit of black paint on his shoulders and blue paint on details on his chest, and he has a silver-painted face with blue eyes. It's ironic that he's such a strong callback to G1 and yet I'm so disappointed with his size and design. The Battle Masters really were the pinnacle of engineering, and he just doesn't feel like he's part of that same group.

He can fold up and plug into Pointblank's back, for some reason, if he wants to treat his sentient, living Nebulan partner like an accessory and tuck him away for storage.

So, Pointblank transforms about like you'd expect. The shoulders come together to form the front of the car, with the forearms connecting together to serve as the car's hood. The legs fold up so that the blue wings on his knees become the spoiler. One thing the toy is missing is the additional blue wing, which was an accessory that came with the G1 version and plugged into the top of the car mode. Also, weirdly, his Targetmaster gun doesn't actually plug into the car using the five-millimeter peg at all. He just sticks onto the back of the car using two little rectangular tabs. Dude, do you even Targetmaster?

Car mode is five inches long, and captures the look of the character reasonably well. I do miss the extra wing piece, though (Nonnef is cooking something up, I'm told) and I'm baffled by the non-standard means by which the Targetmaster gun connects. I love that we finally got a great Pointblank update, but in some ways the cost-cutting is really evident on this toy. Still, it's unlikely Hasbro will be able to use this mold again for any other character (nobody else has car-half shoulders like this, except Counterpunch), so we're lucky to have gotten him at all, I think.

Adding Skullgrin whenever he gets his happy butt over to my place, I guess!


Zob (spends too much time writing about toys)

Gustavo Wombat

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Nov 23, 2022, 4:20:22 AM11/23/22
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Zobovor <zm...@aol.com> wrote:

> POINTBLANK
>

> In the past, during toy lines like Siege, we would get Targetmaster
> characters (Crosshairs, Spinister, etc.) but we'd have to buy their
> Nebulan partners separately as a Battlemaster or whatnot. This time, we
> actually get a Targetmaster who comes with his own partner. Peacemaker
> doesn't follow the same design as the previous Siege partners, though.
> He's smaller and simpler, probably to fit within the existing budget for
> a Deluxe-class toy. So, it's sort of bittersweet, since it's great to
> get the dynamic duo in one package, but a bit disappointing that he
> doesn't follow the existing design parameters for so many Battlemasters
> that have been sold since 2019.

The Battlemasters seem better scaled for Voyagers — Deluxes who use them
are carrying massive cannons that either would be defying physics or
improbably light. (The Targetmasters included with some of the Japanese
Titanmaster toys were even bigger!)

Whether this makes the tiny Targetmaster better or worse is up to you.
Since they are all supposed to be Nebulons, it begs the question of whether
Peacemaker is a child. And that begs the question of why Arcee didn’t have
a tiny head with Daniel.

There’s a Ukrainian proverb “The less you know, the better you sleep.” It
probably applies here.

> So, Peacemaker is only about 1.75" tall (even the G1 version is taller
> than that!) and the only moving parts he's got are the hinge at his waist
> and another hinge for his gun barrel. His legs are fused together and
> his arms don't move at all. So, we've really reverted back to the G1 era
> of Targetmaster design here, for better or for worse. He has a bit of
> black paint on his shoulders and blue paint on details on his chest, and
> he has a silver-painted face with blue eyes. It's ironic that he's such
> a strong callback to G1 and yet I'm so disappointed with his size and
> design. The Battle Masters really were the pinnacle of engineering, and
> he just doesn't feel like he's part of that same group.

He’s a six year old boy, who has been surgically altered to be a gun. Cut
the kid a little slack.

> He can fold up and plug into Pointblank's back, for some reason, if he
> wants to treat his sentient, living Nebulan partner like an accessory and
> tuck him away for storage.

Kid likes piggy back rides.

Ok, more seriously, with the different leg lengths, if Pointblank is gently
strolling, Peacemaker is going to have to be running full speed. So, he
will either end up being carried in the hand, which seems aggressive, or
stored somewhere.

Do Targetmasters get motion sickness? All the swinging about of being
handled as a weapon would seem to be a problem. Is there a vomit gun?

Zobovor

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Nov 24, 2022, 3:37:50 PM11/24/22
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On Wednesday, November 23, 2022 at 2:20:22 AM UTC-7, Gustavo Wombat, of the Seattle Wombats wrote:

> Since they are all supposed to be Nebulons, it begs the question of whether
> Peacemaker is a child.

It's the inconsistent scale that bothers me most. If all the Siege Battlemasters had been this tiny, it would have been fine. Or, conversely, if Peacemaker had been given this simple Geewuntastic design but he was the same height as the others, it also would have been fine. But I thought we were in the Age of Correct Scale now.

It's the same deal with Skullgrin being Deluxe-sized but Iguanus and Bombs-Bursting In Air being tiny. It just doesn't fly.

> Do Targetmasters get motion sickness? All the swinging about of being
> handled as a weapon would seem to be a problem. Is there a vomit gun?

Maybe part of being binary-bonded includes brain surgery to remove that little piece that tells you where your body parts are with respect to the rest of the world. (Also, here's a fun trick you can try at home. Your tongue has absolutely no position sense. Turn your tongue sideways and try to feel your teeth, and it will send your brain a signal that your teeth are in fact sideways. Not that your tongue has changed position. It's wacky.)


Zob (or maybe it's just me, I dunno)

Zobovor

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Nov 24, 2022, 4:02:57 PM11/24/22
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On Tuesday, November 22, 2022 at 6:58:56 PM UTC-7, Zobovor wrote:

> Adding Skullgrin whenever he gets his happy butt over to my place, I guess!

He showed up yesterday. I'm honestly not super happy with him. Maybe there's a reason I didn't pre-order him the first time.

So, as I've mentioned, Hasbro has freely admitted they have no idea what they're doing with the Pretenders. We've gotten Decoy Suits (which at least made sense in terms of scale, since robots disguised as humans should be tiny) and we've also gotten some Core-class updates (Iguanus and Bomb-Burst) but now we're got a giant-sized Skullgrin. And he's this wacky fusion of his Pretender shell and inner robot. It's like he's cosplaying as himself.

As a robot, he's about 5.25" in height. He's mostly dark grey and fuschia, very strongly resembling the inner robot from the 1988 release, but then he's decked out in bone-white shoudler pads and a skull-themed belt and a big ol' horned skull-faced helmet. It doesn't look right at all. If they'd made all these piece snap-on parts, and he had a regular robot head underneath, maybe it would have been okay. The skull head does pop off easily, because it's made of rubbery plastic that won't snap together, but underneath is just a faceless plastic mount.

Also, the original Pretender toy actually did have a lower jaw, but it was sculpted detail that was part of his upper body. He had bottom teeth, a tongue, the whole business. The new toy takes the upper jaw and just mounts it onto a robot body with no lower jaw detail, so it looks like half a head.

He has a dual-barreled turret mounted to his back, but the guns can pop off and be used as handheld weapons if you want. He also comes with two gunswords, with the blades unpainted white plastic but the barrels painted a metallic gunmetal. They're rubbery, like the skull head. They're not sharp at all, so I don't know why they needed to be rubbery. They're not a safety hazard.

His transformation involves tucking his horns in, opening a trapdoor in his chest so you can stuff his head inside, tucking in the legs, and arranging the tank treads (stuffed inside the legs) so that they're on either side. It's somewhat involved, and requires lots of parts to be positioned just-so in order for the locking tabs to take hold.

The finished tank mode is from the Siege Soundwave school of vehicle design; i.e., "these obvious robot legs with the toes pointing down are now the front of a vehicle mode, because we say so." It's abstract in the extreme. He also has no functional wheels at all. The dual guns are on a turret that does rotate (the G1 toy couldn't do this), so that part is nice. The sword-guns can plug into either side of the vehicle, but the rubbery pegs don't like to cooperate, and trying to line the guns up with the locking tabs on the robot legs usually results in just flexing the swords until the parts reach.

I'm given to understand that the design slots for all these updated Pretenders were originally meant for Energon Monsters, an idea that was scrapped and replaced with the Pretender characters. Like, I'm glad that they're addressing heritage characters instead of just giving us more toys I don't care about, but this just doesn't remind me enough of Skullgrin for me to really like it, or consider it an acceptable neo-G1 version of him. And now I wonder how they're going to try to sell us the toy a second time, since every new toy design always includes a second head sculpt for potential redeco purposes. (I sure hope it's not Blugdeon, because that would be an even worse use of this mold!)

So, yeah. The other toys in this wave were all really good, but Skullgrin is a bit of a let-down. He's certainly better than the Generations toy from 2010, which was Skullgrin in name only. This version has much closer fidelity to *aspects* of the G1 toy, but they're mixed and matched together in such a manner than I don't care for it. It's an inventive effort, and they get points for trying, but I don't really want more Pretenders in this style. They need to figure out how to do the classic inner-robot-hides-in-an-outer-shell gimmick, even if the toys end up being too elaborate to sell at the Deluxe price point.


Zob (I'd pay Voyager-class prices for new Pretenders, wouldn't you?)
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