Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Serpentine King Hssss

Way back when Battle Armor King Hssss vs Snake Armor He-Man was introduced, Hssss was designed to include an upgraded version of his snake form. Unfortunately, due to higher than acceptable costs, that piece had to be cut from the set with the promise that the piece would be included with a future release. As time passed, fans like myself began to wonder if we’d really see the new snake form. Around Comic-con, it was announced that the new snake form would indeed be released, as part of its own figure, and on February of 2016, we at last have Serpentine King Hssss.
This new form of King Hssss is quite interesting from the get go, being in his Snake form, his torso is entirely comprised of serpents of various sizes. Six of these snakes flare out to be arms for the figure, with some open and some closed, while a much larger one is in the center serving as the main head. This design is wicked awesome. While it’s not accurate to the 200x version of Hssss, I would dare say it’s an improvement over that concept. It most certainly is an improvement over the Snake form of the first release of Hssss in this line. When comparing the two, this new snake torso makes the older one look rather dull.  Each snake arm is bendy so you can move them quite freely, the main head has a swivel around the neck to move it left and right, but the mouth cannot open and close. Still, the head sculpt is amazing.
The legs are fairly simple. A pair of snakeman legs painted up to match the torso, a golden brown with green patterns, all on a King Hssss codpiece. Basically it looks like Hssss is in his undies, as if his minions stole his pants to hang them on a flagpole or something. Articulation is standard, universal hips, thigh swivels, 90 degree knees, and forward and backward on the ankles.
The snake torso is fully compatible with either form of King Hssss. Simply remove the normal torso and peg in the new snake form one. It’s a simple design that works quite well and offers up a few nice combinations. Given how the 200X cartoon was what really hooked me onto Masters, I prefer using the 200X legs with the new snake form torso, although I’m probably gonna be displaying Serpentine Hssss as a whole next the 200X figure.
To make up for the wait, Mattel has gifted this toy with a few interesting accessories. First off, he includes repainted versions of the weapons from the Snakeman 2-pack, giving us a new mace, sword, polearm, and shield done in gunmetal grey and metallic green. These will go great with your Snakemen, particularly warriors like Rattlor. We also get a new head for King Hssss, one that looks to be in the middle of transforming into snake form. It's just a repaint of one of the Snakemen Warrior heads, but still a cool add in none the less. This new head will work with either version of Hssss, but the green on the back would suggest it was meant for the vintage styled version of the character. It looks great and can really provide an interesting new look for Hssss.

All in all, Serpentine King Hssss is a great figure, which can either complete Battle Armor King Hssss or just as easily stand on its own.  Whether you want to Upgrade your existing Hssss, or just want a snake monster to attack your heroes, Serpentine King Hssss is a figure worth hunting down.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hasbro Transformers Combiner Wars Buzzsaw

With Combiner Wars coming to a close, Hasbro has decided to give us a sneak peek into what the next line, Titans Return, has in store. This sneak preview is actually in the form of one of the last Legends class figures in the line, Buzzsaw.
Buzzsaws alt mode is a smartphone, which is a major update from his cassette mode of old. I’m sure there are those of you who don’t even know what a cassette is, but to make it simple they were the precursor to CDs. In any case, this smartphone mode is just as much a brick as his G1 counterpart’s was. The front does have some nice decals on it to make up the screen, but unfortunately some are prone to fraying simple due to how Buzzsaw transforms. I still do appreciate the effort made on the decal art, it really does look nice.
Interestingly enough, Buzzsaw was also given a vehicle mode of sorts. This is more to go with the Titan Masters of the next line but it’s a little odd to see now. I’m not even sure what to call the thing, it’s just a little brick on wheels with prongs on the front. One could argue it’s just there so he can get around, but his beast/robot mode can do that better.
Speaking of which, Buzzsaw’s robot mode is a bird. Big surprise right. Honestly though I wouldn’t have it any other way. Buzzsaw has been a bird since his G1 days and it’s been his default robot mode. This iteration is done fairly well, but it’s also hard to mess up really. I like how there are flip out extensions to the wings to make them more wing like and how the tail tries to emulate the back cannons/thrusters, although those 5mm ports look like there were plans to give him actual cannons at some point in his design. Perhaps Shapeways can make that happen in the future. It’s also possible to fan mode a jet form for Buzzsaw by simply rotating the wings 180 degrees and closing them up. It looks decent and far more appealing than the official rolling brick mode.  Sadly, no articulation to speak of on this guy, all joints seem to be for transformation. In this case I’m not too bummed by that, but it’s worth noting.
Compared to previous versions of the character, there is an obvious departure from the original design, but there is still enough here that I can recognize him as that G1 character. I honestly would have loved to see Hasbro incorporate the Masterpiece transformation to this new alt mode because I think it could have worked so well.

All in all, Buzzsaw is an interesting and logical new take on the character and could fit well into a Classics shelf. His rolling brick mode is entirely forgettable, but not needed to enjoy the toy either, more of a bonus feature that didn’t work out. I think he would be worth picking up especially since the rest of the cassette team is coming later in the year or next year, but if they went coming, this toy would be easier to pass on.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hasbro Transformers Combiner Wars Trailbreaker

The final wave of Combiner Wars is here and it’s another ’84 wave, for the most part. Three of the four deluxes are from the 1984 offerings of G1 with one from ’85. We are looking at one of the ’84 guys today in Trailbreaker.
Trailbreaker is a repaint/retool of Offroad giving him the flatbed truck vehicle mode similar to what he had in G1, minus the cover on the back. He has a great paintjob which gives him all the classic striping you’d want to see on a Classics representation of the character. The standard hand/foot gun can be placed as a makeshift cover, but still I’d love to see someone at Shapeways or some 3rd party make a cover accessory for him.
Robot mode is a little more interesting. Not only is the head remolded but the arms are redone as well. While there have been more extensive retools done in this line in the past, this is still quite nice. The head is animation accurate to the G1 cartoon, with a really good face sculpt. The arms are blockier than the what Offroad or Ironhide had and the right arm even has a gun instead of a hand. For G1 fans, this is a big win as Trailbreaker had a gun hand in G1. The arms and legs are well painted but the chest is lacking. Aside from an Autobot badge, it’s completely unpainted. I wish the top of the chest was painted blue to match the vehicle mode windshield, furthering the G1 aesthetic the figure seems to be going for. Other than that he looks very nice.
Accessories are pretty run of the mill for the mold. He has the axe that came with the other figures to use this mold, as well as the engine styled hand/foot gun. The hand/foot gun however, has been somewhat retooled. The finger and thumb pieces have been redone to give the hand mode a more clawed look, complete with silver fingers. Quite an interesting touch. That claw can even fit into Trailbreakers gun arm to give him a very big hand. Sadly, the axe can’t plug into the gun arm. A shame since an axe arm would have been cool.
Given this is a Combiner Wars figure, we should get into the combined modes. The leg is as solid as the other versions of the mold. I’ve always liked how the hood of the truck becomes a knee guard. Arm mode still has some problems. I will give Hasbro some credit as the remolded arms stay attached to the tabs on the sides of the vehicle much better than Offroad or Ironhide’s, but the robot legs still come apart too easily when trying to pose the combined arm. This makes Trailbreaker more ideal as a leg, which makes the retooled Hand/foot gun rather pointless, unless you swap hand/foot guns with one of the arm bots.
Trailbreaker looks pretty good with the first wave of ’84 bots. I haven’t gotten any of the other figures in his wave, but things are looking good so far. When compared to the Thrilling 30 Trailcutter, it’s amazing how much more G1 accurate this new one is even without having the hood chest or flood lights in the back. I wish I had a G1 Trailbreaker to compare him to but looking at him next to Hoist, the influences are visible. I’m surprised at just how good this mold is for the character.
Somehow I feel that Hasbro was trying to make Combiner Wars an ideal starting point for new collectors trying to get a G1 cast together. How else do you explain getting 11 or the first 18 Autobots, Megatron, and the Seekers in one line. One could argue that Shockwave should be mentioned in that group, but he needs a voyager to count in my view.

Final waves are often cursed with being harder to find and shorter lived, making a finale of ’84 characters that never combined before an interesting way to end the Combiner Wars line. It offers comfort that a key group won’t be missed due to figure scarcity, although I do worry about the Voyager Skylinx that has yet to hit a store nearby me and may be afflicted by that curse.