Blog #42: Toy Reviews: Encore Devastator, KO Dino Cassettes, TF: Prime First Edition

Before we get to Transformers a few notes.  Expect a number of blogs over the weekend and into next week.  I will have a number of move reviews, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The Adventures of Tintin, War Horse, and maybe The Darkest Hour.  Might not be seeing the last one this week if it’s not playing at the theater I usually go to, and I don’t think it is.  I also hope to have my 2012 movie preview up toward the end of next week.

On to Transformers!

1. “Bumblebee and Me” Audiobook Now Available
2. Encore Devastator
3. KO Toys Dial and Zaur
4. Transformers: Prime Pilot (A Year Late)
5. Transformers: Prime Toys (Deluxes)
6. Transformers Artifact(s) of the Week

And I think that will about do it.

1. “Bumblebee and Me” Audiobook Now Available

A few weeks ago I blogged about “Bumblebee and Me” the new book by Dan Gilvezan, the voice of Bumblebee in the original animated series.  (You can read that here.)  It is now available as an audiobook from Audible.com.  I haven’t listened to it yet, but its read by Dan himself!  Click here for the audiobook on Audible.com.

2. Encore Devastator

After so many years of waiting, finally they have reissued Devastator!  Too bad they did such a piss-poor job on it.

I’m not going to get into minor mold and color changes.  It is outwardly identical in both mold and color, and if there are small changes, they don’t change anything major.  Other sites will have pages devoted to these changes, so I’m not going to go into them.

When they started the Encore line, one of the great things was using tampos to replace at least some of the stickers.  I hate stickers on toys, I’d rather have tampos.  Well, that was great for a while.  The best example of tampos improving toys is the most recent release of Predaking (which was technically not an Encore, but was released while that line has been being made).  They did tampos to replace a number of stickers, and updated the stickers that they did include.  It was awesome.

Well, Encore Devastator has NO tampos, and it is a toy that sorely could have used some.  Devastator’s original stickers are terrible, as many of them are placed on non-flat surfaces.  While this is a common problem with G1 toys, it stands out more on Devastator than others (at least to me).  So, overall, this is pretty lame, unless you don’t have a G1 Devastator and want one.  Then, go for it.  It’s much cheaper than the original.

However, when I said earlier that they did a piss-poor job on this toy, I wasn’t just talking about stickers vs. tampos.  On my set, Mixmaster will not stay on the purple leg connector.  I’ve tried everything.  It just won’t stay on.  Best I can do is get Devastator standing up and not touch it.  As soon as I pick him up, Mixmaster falls off.  This isn’t the first recent toy to have major quality control problems.  I had problems with the afore mentioned Predaking reissue.  I had to take out screws from Razorclaw’s shoulders and swap them with his hips because he was put together wrong and it wouldn’t transform properly.  There was at least one other thing like this I had to do, but I don’t recall it at the moment.  So, you’ve been warned.

The sad thing is you’ll pay $125 for this toy.  For not much more, with some searching, you can probably get an original near mint loose set on ebay for not too much more than that.

3. KO Toys Dial and Zaur

Dial and Zaur (AKA Dairu and Zauru, AKA C-123 and C-124) are some of the most sought after Transformers by collectors (Dairu in particular, Zauru seems to be less rare).  For about $50 bucks for the pair, if you don’t have the originals, GO GET THEM.  The originals sell for well over $1500.

They are nicely done and pretty good quality.  Not quite perfect to the original if you look closely, but if you don’t have an original set to compare with, you’ll never notice.  As with Devastator, there are other sites going into minute detail.

I actually bought an extra set so I could take one of the weapons from one to complete my original set.  (It’s no different than a “repro part”.)  I’m certainly not going to fool around with my original set with it’s delicate plastic that has cracks in places.  This set is well worth getting, and is of higher quality than Devastator in my opinion.  (So much for the argument that all KO’s are cheap.)

As you may have heard, KO Toys has “closed down”.  Was it under pressure from Hasbro?  Maybe.  More likely it was Takara, because I would think a Japanese company would have much more pull with a business in China than Hasbro would, and it was the knocking off of the Dino Cassettes that seems to have precipitated it.  Doesn’t really matter.  From what I’ve read online, while the site is being shut down, the business is far from closed.  I have noticed that the Dino Cassettes have suddenly disappeared from ebay, and it looks like most other KO’s too.  Hasbro did this about two years ago and then they all came back.  Give it six months or so and they’ll be back.

While on the subject, I guess I’ll give you my thoughts on Transformers knockoffs.

Knock off of Transformers (which is all I’m talking about, I’m not addressing the larger issue of counterfeit merchandise which is a real problem) have been available since before Transformers even existed.  Toys such as Sunstreaker and Trailbreaker (among others) were available in the USA as “knockoffs” before the original product.  But that’s not what I’m talking about here just to be clear.  Being able to walk into a toy store and find a KO in place of real product is something different entirely.  I’m talking about KOs for collectors of product that is no longer available from Hasbro and Takara or on toy store shelves.  These are two very different things.  I’m sure someone will tell you it’s not, but it is.

(Also, knockoffs have nothing to do with toys from companies like FansProject.  They are making original toys based on TF characters and using different “official” names.  There may be some shaky legal ground on intellectual copyrights, but not anything actionable, or Hasbro would have done it by now.  Some of these toys are actually better than what Hasbro makes.)

I do not like G1 KO toys being put in reproduced original packaging because it does confuse less knowledgeable collectors.  (Of course, it’s their own fault if they get taken.  You must do your homework as a collector, not every seller is reputable.)  It really isn’t necessary to have the boxes.  Make the toys, sell them as KO’s, and just put them in plain white boxes.

Customizers can make great use of KO’s to make their own custom toys without having to sacrifice expensive collectable pieces.

Many collectors won’t or can’t spend big money on original toys, so KO’s are a great alternative to have a toy on your shelf.  If they want a boxed one, then go spend the money on an original. I have a set of the KO Japanese Headmaster Heads, mainly because I can’t afford (or find for that matter) one of them.  It’s nice to have it even if it’s not original, and like with Dairu and Zauru, I can handle them without holding my breath.

They will frequently do KO’s of alternate versions of toys.  I have in my collection a completely clear plastic G1 Optimus Prime (which is AWESOME), a red G1 Mirage, and a translucent blue G1 Mirage.  This is AWESOME.  Hasbro is never going to make those.

Now, to be clear, I’m mostly talking about the knocking off of G1 toys.  These are no longer available from Hasbro and Takara.  I personally don’t see the point in knocking off more recent toys.  Sure, they sometimes do alternate versions like the “Classics” Sunstorm, but it is at best a novelty.  I have a Sunstorm, and let me tell you, it’s pretty lousy quality.  They seem to do a better job on the G1 KO’s in general.  All the G1 toys I mentioned above are pretty good quality.

There are those, however, who would make you believe that Transformer KO’s will be the downfall of our economy.  Not too long ago (I don’t recall exactly how long ago) the official Transformers Club twitter account (or it may have been the convention twitter account, I don’t recall which) posted something to the effect of it “costing people their jobs when you buy KO’s.”  This was in response to the knocking off of one of their convention exclusives, I believe.  Since those exclusives sold out, it was just a dumb thing to say.  Unless they didn’t sell out, no one could possibly have lost their job as a result.  I wouldn’t put much stock in anything they have to say on the subject of KO’s or most anything else.  These are the same people who spout the “danger” of prototype toys.  Yeah, I see a lot of kids getting their hands on prototypes that sell for a ton of money and injuring themselves on untested toys.  Why don’t they just tell us the truth?  They don’t want unscrupulous price gougers selling prototypes.  They are the only unscrupulous price gougers who get to sell Transformers.  At least then they would be being honest.

Okay, enough on knockoffs.

4. Transformers: Prime Pilot (A Year Late)

Yes, I only just this week saw the Transformers Prime pilot, Darkness Rising.  While it’s old news, I thought I’d give you my thoughts anyway.

I loved it.  Was it perfect?  No.  Frank Welker doesn’t sound anything like Megatron.  Now, is that because he is older and can’t do it anymore?  Maybe.  If so, then I give them a pass on that.  I really like the rest of the voice work accept for Ratchet.  Every time he speaks, all I can think is “damn Vorta”.  I have expected him to refer to the humans as “Pink Skins.”  (Those are both Star Trek references.  Jeffrey Combs played the Vorta Weyoun on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the Andorian Commadner Thy’lek Shran on Star Trek: Enterprise.)

I enjoyed the story, but it’s hard to tell from just the pilot.  I do like the human characters and the way they have portrayed Arcee.  I get the Bumblebee not speaking in the movies thing, but it’s getting old.  He doesn’t always have to be mute.

One thing I wonder.  Why get Dwayne Johnson to do a voice and then waste him on a character that was going to die before the episode was over?  Cliffjumper was very cool looking, and interestingly was not a repaint of Bumblebee.

Looking forward to Season One on DVD.

5. Transformers: Prime Toys (Deluxes)

Recently I found the first mass released Transformers Prime toys, Deluxe Bumblebee, Arcee, and Starscream.  I really like Starscream, but I wish he was larger, at least a Voyager.  My favorite is Arcee, and I like the blue animated version to the New York Comicon G1 colored version.  Something about the mold just looks better in dark blue.  Plus, since she’s paired with Jack.  If she were pink and white, that might get awkward.

Then there is Bumblebee.  I understand why they made Bumblebee a Camaro in the movie.  They couldn’t make him as a VW bug.  Honestly though, I wish they would go back to a more VW bug-like mode.  Not a bad toy though, but I’m not crazy about the soft plastic weapon.  Starscream has his missile that way too, but they stay on well.  In vehicle mode, Bumblebee’s weapon will fall off if you look at it funny.  Otherwise not bad.  It’s not much different than the NYCC version.  Just the paint was changed to make him a NYC Taxi.

Looking forward to more toys.  Very few have been announced though, so we’ll have to see how much life the toy line really has.  They have already announced two versions of Cliffjumper and he didn’t even survive the first episode.  Makes me wonder what Hasbro was thinking holding the toys for a year after the series premiered.

6. Transformers Artifact(s) of the Week

Here we have a newer item, a 2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Optimus Prime Rollout Wagon.  So cool.  I was going to pass on this since it was kind of expensive, but Toys R Us had a special 6-hour sale one evening.  This was also half price, and Optimus Prime Ride On Toy.

So, I couldn’t pass on this one at half price either, and buying them together it was free shipping, too.  These aren’t up on the site yet, but you can find 7000+ other Transformers non-toy items at TFMuseum.com.

Thanks for reading!

About lmb3

I’m 36 years old, and I work in network tech support for a public school system. I am a huge fan of Star Trek, Transformers, Harry Potter, and Marvel Comics as well as numerous other fandoms. I’m a big sports fan, especially the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots. I collect toys (mostly Transformers but other stuff too), comic books, and Red Sox baseball cards. I watch an obscene amount of television and love going to the movies. I am hopelessly addicted to Wizard Rock and I write Harry Potter Fanfiction, though these days I am working on a couple of different original YA novels.
This entry was posted in Television, Toy Reviews, Toys, Transformers, Transformers Artifact of the Week and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Blog #42: Toy Reviews: Encore Devastator, KO Dino Cassettes, TF: Prime First Edition

  1. Pingback: Blog #21: Toy Review: Transformers Masterpiece Starscream MP-11 | lmb3.net

  2. Pingback: Blog #75: Toy Reviews: Transformers Encore Soundblaster and Twincast | lmb3.net

  3. Pingback: Blog #55: Toy Reviews: TF United Stepper, KO Bumblebee Combiner, Botcon 2012 Toys | lmb3.net

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