Nov 22, 2022, 8:58:56 PM11/22/22
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.
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...)
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.
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)