Sunday, March 29, 2009

Transformers Animated Wreck-Gar! Review!

YES. WRECK-GAR. Now, it's no secret. I freaking love Wreck-Gar. I use a picture of him as an avatar on every site I can. He is my favorite Transformer EVER. And then he was totally on Animated! And the episode he was in, Garbage In, Garbage Out, is the best one of the series! And he may not have been voiced by Eric Idle, but they got the next best guy, Weird Al! And, now his toy is out! And I've got it! Now I just need the Wreck-Gar MyClone, and I'll have every Wreck-Gar toy (I already have G1 Wreck-Gar).

Wreck-Gar's alt mode is -appropriately for a bot who was originally a pile of garbage brought to life by an AllSpark fragment- a garbage truck. The truck is pretty simple, without many sculpted or painted details, but that's what it was like on the show. He has a silver Autobrand (Autobot symbol) on the driver's side door. This was a good choice because kids will be able to tell he's good, but the symbol won't show up in robot mode. The forks on the cab can swivel down, and if you push a little button on them the lower parts go forward and up.

Converting him basically consists of pulling the robot bits out from under the truck and unfolding them. Yep, he's a shellformer. But, all the vehicle mode parts fold up to make his backpack, so they're out of the way. He's not like the old Beast Wars shellformers.

And you don't care because Wreck-Gar is awesome.

Wreck-Gar robot mode is also awesome. As far as sculpting, he's very show accurate. Wreck-Gar is the most cartoony looking transformer from Animated, which is perfect for him. Both G1 and Animated Wreck-Gar are very cartoon characters. Animated Wreck-Gar is rather different from G1 Wreck-Gar. But, he still has the big shoulder pads, big boxy head, and facial hair. The best thing about his sculpting though, is that his head is basically a caricature of Weird Al! I love that! And he's got a nice little smile, which fits.

The paint is very good. It is, of course, show accurate. Mostly. He's missing a few bits of black. Mainly on his fingers/thumb, under his bill thing on his head, a few places on his chest, and a few places on his head. But what's that? You say mine has those painted? Yeah, I went ahead and painted that stuff. So when you get him, they won't be painted. Just take a small brush, some acrylic paint, and be very patient. It's worth it. Also, his feet aren't red, but I'm afraid that if I painted them I'd just make them look bad. His colors are mostly the same as G1 Wreck-Gar, especially the face and chest.

Wreck-Gar is very well articulated. He's got a swivel neck, biceps, and thighs, Transformer swivel pin sort of balljoint shoulders, true balljoint hips, and hinged elbows, knees, and fingers. His knees have an truly amazing range of motion, and articulated fingers are always a plus!

With all those joints. he's not back heavy at all, like you might think he would be. In fact, he's better balanced than most other modern Transformers. So you can get him into all kinds of poses, as long as you don't make his backpack go radically off to one side or something. He can even balance on one foot if you do it right.

Wreck-Gar gets two bladed weapons for accessories. They can plug into the wheel near his elbow on each arm, or be plugged together to make one big weapon. They also store in his backpack!
You just push the tab up or down to slide them in and out of his pack. They have some nice detailing, and once you realize that they look like scissors they're pretty awesome. Though, something more would be nice. Id' love a little vacuum like the one he used to clean up the nanobots and save Detroit at the end of Garbage In, Garbage Out. Oh well. I might make one.

I am enamored with Wreck-Gar. I love his overall look. I love the expression on his face. I love how his head looks like an old portable T.V.. I love so many little things about him. He is tied with my G1 Wreck-Gar for my favorite toys OF ALL TIME. You should definitely grab him, if you can find him, that is. Even if you can't, order one online.

By the way, Wreck-Gar Twitters now.

~I am Raw/Monty! I Dare to Be Stupid!

He can even hold his instructions!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Transformers: Universe (2008)/25th Anniversary Cyclonus & Nightstick

Guess what! Even though I can't find that damned camera, I did come across some old pictures I took for a Cyclonus review that I never wrote.
Because I'm lazy.

Cyclonus was one of the Decepticons re-created by Unicron. Megatron became Galvatron, Thundercracker became Scourge, Kickback and Shrapnel became Scourge's sweeps, and, well who became Cyclonus? Well, that's a point of contention amongst Transfans. You see, in the movie, when this all happened, as Cyclonus was created Bombshell (An Insecticon) was in the front of the shot while Skywarp (One of Starscream's fellow Seekers) was in the back. Both are turned into identical Cyclonuses (Cycloni?). And, Unicron said "Cyclonus... and his Armada", but one robot isn't an armada. The second Cyclonus then disappears. But it's never explained who Cyclonus once was. While the blocking of the shot and a line by Skywarp about Cyclonus once being a "bug" (Confusing huh? Skywarp may be Cyclonus, but he's talking to Cyclonus. Transformers lore is full of that stuff. However, this line is from a pseudo-canonical source, so it may or may not count) say Bombshell, Cyclonus's alt mode, general design, and loyalty (Skywarp was one of the few loyal 'Cons, while all the Insecticons did whatever was best for themselves) say Skywarp. So, who knows? The card-back for this new Cyclonus says he was created from the "parts of dead Decepticons", which would imply both. However, this is from 22-23 years later, so it doesn't say what happened in the movie.

But wait! This shit gets worse! You see, it's slagging hard to tell who the hell Nightstick is! Nightstick is Cyclonus's Targetmaster gun. The Targetmasters were a sub-group of Transformers that featured smaller robots/cyborgs that became their weapons (The Headmasters had robots that became their heads, and the Powermasters/Godmasters had little robots that became "engines" that allowed the big robot to transform). Neat idea huh? But, in the Japanese Transformers fiction, Nightstick was the Autobot Ricochet's partner. Ricochet was eventually sold here in the US, so for Americans have two Nightsticks in the fiction. AND Nightstick had his character model switched with Fracas, Scourge's Targetmaster partner. But their colors stayed the same. It's all pretty confusing, so, as you can see, the review hasn't even started and I've already typed two paragraphs just trying to tell you who I'm reviewing.

Anyways, Cyclonus comes packaged in his plane/spaceship thing mode, so we'll start with it. It's definitely very close to his G1 alt mode. Long nose, forward swept wings and vertical tail fins, no horizontal tail fins (As the wings are so far back they're unnecessary), all that. The end result looks great, fast, and space-worthy. It has some very nice details like wing and tail-fin flaps, guns, techy stuff, etc. The paint is also reminiscent of G1 with the purple main body and silver wings. Landing gear flips down from the nose and two central engines to support him in this mode.

Conversion is another good point. It's difficult enough to be fun and engaging, but not so fucking hard you want to stab something like Universe 2008 Galvatron (While being insanely difficult fits Galvatron, Deluxe sized Transformers SHOULD NOT be that tough. Seriously, I think converting him involves breaking the laws of physics). Even his conversion is like G1. His head comes out of the nose, his lower arms are the outer engines with the tail-fins, and his legs are the central engines.

Once you get him into robot mode, he's still awesome and geewunny. His basic look heavily favors his cartoon model over his toy, while the paint-job is more like the toy (The character models for many of the new characters from the movie were changed after the toys were designed, so they ended up looking different). This takes the best of both worlds. The toy's shoulders had the wings pointed down, and he had a weird looking chest. But the cartoon's color scheme was a rather light purpleish blue color. The Japanese Henkei! Henkei! version of this toys favors that color, making him a sort of light, pastel lavender. Eww. And, as far as paint, Cyclonus is nice. There a few spots where the dark blue/purple is painted on silver and it doesn't quite reach all the places it should, but these are few and far between, and mostly unnoticeable except under close examination. Early showed these guys being MUCH more beige, which caused some angst of the RUINED FOREVER type, but those photos were of early prototypes with unfinished paint. The detail from his alt mode carries over here, so the sculpt is nice. Earlier toys from Universe (2008) had more complex, faces made to look more realistic like the robots from the new movie, but Cyclonus's is more simplified like the G1 guys. And, he still has his G1 Head Handles, which are really just a bad idea. Seriously, around guys like Megatron and Galvatron, having handles on your head just isn't a good idea.

His articulation is superb. Swivel head, forearms, and thighs, those double pin joint balljoints Transformers have for shoulders, hinge elbows and knees, and true balljointed hips.

As far as accessories, Cyclonus gets another Transformer! Obviously, this is Nightstick, his Targetmaster partner. His robot mode is pretty tiny (Which is why the picture of it sucks. My camera can't handle stuff that close.) and limited, but he has a good bit more articulation than his G1 counterpart, moving at the shoulder, elbows, and hips, all with swivel/pin joints. His conversion used to be "Fold in half." Now it's "Pull out gun barrel and fold in half." Yay progress! As you can see, he makes a nice looking gun. In an undocumented feature, you can fold Cyclonus's right fist (The only one capable of holding Nightstick, as his left hand lacks a peg hole.) into his arm and plug Nightstick into his wrist. That's how Targetmasters worked in Japan, but Cyclonus was never a Targetmaster there, so it's not documented in the Japanese instructions either. Still, it's nice that it's there.

Cyclonus is a great, fun toy. He may be hard to find, as his spaceship mode makes him popular with the kids. But you should definitely grab him if you can. He's a nice update of a classic G1 character, and the revival of the Targetmasters. And he goes well with Universe (2008) Galvatron and Armada/Universe (2008) Unicron (Unicron was re-released unchanged as a Toys R' Us exclusive a few months ago. I have him, and reviewed him back at Rooster Teeth).

*CHUK!* ~Raw/Monty

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Music Review: The Decemberists "The Hazards of Love"

Yes, a music review. Is this just a way for me to stall because I can't remember what I did with my stupid camera so I can't do a proper toy review?


Besides, does it say anywhere in the "About" section that I can't do a music review? No, it does not. It says "if it's nerdy" blah blah blah. Is music nerdy? It is if I say it is.

Anyways, onto the review! The Decemberists are a band I more or less recently got into. I've always had an affinity for folk rock (Stemming from my love of classic rock), and they're rather different from anything else being made today. Listening to their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th albums ("Her Majesty", "Picarasque", and "The Crane Wife" respectively) got me hooked. A few days ago (March 17, 2009) they released their 5th album "The Hazards of Love".

So, how does it stack up against their other albums? Read on, dear read and I shall tell you!

One of the first things I noticed while looking over the song list on iTunes, was that this album had more songs than their typical 10-11 count. It clocks in at 17. However, while it is a little bit longer than some of their previous stuff, it lacks the 10-15 minute long songs the Decemberists often do. The longest one is 6 minutes, 27 seconds, and the shortest is only 29 seconds! But you don't really notice the lack of long songs.

You see, the album has a great flow. It feels like the songs belong together. Like there's some over-arching story being told (A press release says "The Hazards Of Love tells the tale of a woman named Margaret who is ravaged by a shape-shifting animal; her lover, William; a forest queen; and a cold-blooded, lascivious rake, who recounts with spine-tingling ease how he came 'to be living so easy and free' in the . . . 'The Rake’s Song.'" I don't personally get that, but I may read the lyrics to see If I can get it) . Now, many of their albums do that. The songs are similar, and in the case of the Crane Wife their was a story going on between a few of the songs. And the Mariner's Revenge Song was actually a story. But it seems more cohesive in The Hazards of Love. You don't notice many of the changes in song. They end and start quickly, and seemingly on the same note, with music that sounds similar and changes gradually.

But, that's not to say that the entire album actually souunds the same. There's some great variety. From hard rock, folk rock, and beyond, the band shows their versatility well.

As always, Colin Meloy (Center in the picture, holding umbrella) provides the main vocals. His voice is a big draw for me. He's very different sounding (Like everything with the band). It's like is Bob Dylan could actually sing. Jenny Conlee (She's, obviously, the girl in the picture) provides instrumentals, back up vocals, and, in some songs, vocals. Chris Funk (Awesome name!), John Moen, and Nate Query (From left to right in the pic), provide backup vocals and instrumentals.

As for the songs themselves, my favorite would have to be "The Wanting Comes in Waves". It has the most variety of any the songs, and has some great vocals.

And finally, the album artwork. Like all of their album covers, it was done by Meloy's wife, Carson Ellis. It's simple, showing the name of the album with bits of trees and vines, and the name of the band in the upper left corner. I like it, but it's not the best. My favorite would have to be the cover to Her Majesty.

Final Verdict: This is a wonderful album, but not their best work. My personal favorite would be 2005's Picaresque. I urge you to give it a try, and if you haven't listened to their other albums, give them a listen as well.

"I am a chimbley, a chimbley sweep." ~ Raw/Monty

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gonna be bit longer on that review...

I'm tired of using my battery devouring digital camera to take my review pictures, so I tried using a webcam.

The photo I just took looks like a picture of bigfoot. All blurry and such.

Now I have to find that stupid camera.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Review soon.

I promise.

Just as soon as I stop being lazy, and maybe stop feeling like I'm going to throw up, I will review the new Samurai prowl.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New home!

Well, RawToys has now moved from our old home on the groups network. It was a great place to start, but I think we can get more exposure here, and I'll have more freedom to really make this place what I imagine it should be.

So, welcome to the new place! Make yourselves comfortable and keep your shoes off the goddamned sofa.