It’s over! The quest, which began on May 17, 2014, came to an end March 19, 2015 when I received my impossible to find last wave of Power Battlers. The Age of Extinction is now over, but it’s bad smell will linger. This was one of the worst Transformers toy lines ever.
(There are two Construct Bots Dino Riders not yet accounts for, but given the likely cancellation of Construct Bots, I’m guessing we’ll never see Starscream and Galvatron.)
A few notes before we get started. I am only talking about actual main line toys, no store exclusives. Every TF line has it’s share of store exclusive repacks or repaints from older lines. Nothing significant there. The only exclusive that matters in One Step Changer Stinger since he should have been a main line toy. At the end I will talk a bit about Construct Bots and Kre-O, but they really are an offshoot and not the main line.
I am going to go sub line by sub line, but there are a few overall issues first.
The Generations segment of the line has the class (Deluxe, Leader, Voyager) in small letters on the side of the box or bubble. None of the other toys have a classification explicitly stated on them. Some sort of do. One Step Changers and Flip & Change say what they do, but that’s not really a class. The worst of these is Power Battlers, which in some literature are referred to as Power Attackers. We don’t even know for sure what the damn line is supposed to be called. Titan Guardians and Titan Heroes have no way to tell which is which at all, or even that those are the class names. Even Hasbro, who has shown they can do really stupid things, should be above this level of incompetence. This has continued into Robots in Disguise.
Younger Kids vs. Older Kids vs. Collectors
This makes sense in principle. You have a segment of the line for collectors, a segment of the line for older kids, and a segment for younger kids. The problem is that of 69 toys only 19 of them are Deluxe, Voyager, and Leader making 50 toys aimed at kids and younger kids. I understand the idea of having toys for younger kids, but every line has always done that while the Deluxe, Voyager, and Leader make up the core of the line. The three previous movie lines had Legends and Legion, and DotM added the very popular Cyberverse Commander line. These were all much simpler toys that younger kids could enjoy and many collectors loved. For the much younger kids, DotM had Activators, Bash Bots, Go-Bots, Revving Robots, and Robo Fighters all under the Robo Power brand name. This insane shift towards toys for younger kids makes no sense at all, especially for a line based on a PG-13 movie that most of them won’t see for many years.
Then there is the issue of the quantity of toys at each class. How many kids are going to get all eighteen One Step Changers or all fifteen Power Battlers? Kids don’t generally buy that many toys, and even at Christmas aren’t likely to get that many. It makes no sense to make such a big part of the line aimed specially at younger kids. Add to that, there are characters they put in the One Step Changers and Power Battlers that we didn’t even get in Deluxe, Leader, and Voyager, and it makes even less sense.
I don’t have a problem with the idea of simpler toys. There were a lot of toys especially from RotF and DotM that I never transformed because I didn’t have the patience. We did see that toys could be simplified and still detailed in the AOE line. A lot of the Deluxes and Voyagers were great, but the emphasis on super simplicity is a huge mistake.
They are continuing all these things into Robots in Disguise, but even more extremely. The Warrior toys aren’t bad, but are not as detailed as AOE Deluxes. An awful lot of collectors are interested in this line, and the lack of real Deluxes, not to mention the absence of anything remotely resembling Leaders and Voyagers, shows Hasbro’s total lack of understanding of what interests the fans collectors they claim to love. Sure, they’ve done a decent job on Generations, but to assume collectors have no interest in RID is shortsighted and stupid.
According to this article on ToplessRobot.com this is Hasbro’s explanation for the random and nonsensical colors of the Dinobot toys:
“When it comes to the movie Grimlock toys being predominantly gold versus the gray in the movie, it’s a choice to make the toys pop out a bit more, and to get kids to associate that color with the character, like they associate yellow with Bumblebee and blue/red with Optimus.”
First off, I think the movie colored Grimlock in the Platinum set pops way more than the retail version, but that’s an aesthetic choice, and while I think staying with movie colors always makes the most sense, and they would have looked great, I understand the decision. As to the rest, it might make sense to try to associate colors with the Dinobots if there was some media with the Dinobots for kids to see those colors. If there were an Age of Extinction cartoon series with them in these colors, then it would make sense, but there is no reason for kids to associate a color with a character they have never seen and no nothing about. If you want them to associate, then they need some media, ideally a weekly cartoon, for kids to make the association. Then when they see the toys on the pegs it makes a connection. There is NOTHING to connect the Dinobot colors outside the toys hanging on the pegs, so their explanation makes absolutely no sense. At least with Bumblebee and Optimus Prime, they have those colors associated for many years on other cartoons even if they aren’t based on AOE. There is no logic behind their explanation. None at all.
Okay, now on to the toys. God help us.
The eleven Deluxe toys were overall very good. Bumblebee, Crosshairs, Drift were all great molds, but unfortunately wouldn’t be properly painted until the Platinum set. Leave it to Hasbro to intentionally release sub par toys so they can later do them right and overcharge us for them. They of course did the same for the Dinobots. Scorn is a particularly good mold, Snarl as well accept for his arms. The colors on the toys were not at all bad, they just weren’t right. Overall they did a great job on this series. The big problem was the toys that were missing. Having no Deluxe Stinger is unforgivable. I am aware there is an issue with use of the car design. So then don’t use the car in the movie, or do a toy that’s close but not exact. Hell, the Japanese Bumblebee repaint was better than nothing (though it needed a new head). Other characters we should have had Deluxes for are Junkheap, Rally Fighter Vehicon, Steeljaw, and Shane’s rally car. I wouldn’t have minded a new mold SUV Vehicon either. It would have been nice to have a few of the unnamed Decepticons in the movie since the line is so light of Decepticons. They could have easily done eight to ten more toys in this line.
Talk about a waste. One great Optimus Prime and one sort of okay Grimlock (I think the Voyager was better) were all the Leader toys we got. (Not including the Bumblebee from DotM which a Costco Exclusive and considered a Leader.) And of course, we got them with better pain jobs later. At very least we should have had a Leader Galvatron. I know in the past Hasbro has said that Leader Decepticons haven’t sold well, but let’s look at the Leader Deceptions of the past that didn’t sell and why.
From the first movie we had Megatron, who was never a great toy, not having a real earth alternate mode. We got Leader Brawl who was an awesome toy, but had no lines in the movie (accept in Cybertronian). Having no personality, I doubt a lot of people were terribly interested in cannon fodder even though it was a great toy. Then they repainted Brawl into Dessert Brawl making him even less relevant. Of course none of these were going to sell.
For Revenge of the Fallen we had Megatron, who again had no real earth alternate mode, and a less relevant repaint of him. If they were considering Jetfire a Decepticon, that toy was just a piece of crap and one of the most disappointing Transformers ever (and I was really looking forward to it).
For Dark of the Moon, there were no Leader Decepticons. For the 2010 line we got the Leader Starscream that they didn’t release for DotM. That was a pretty good toy If it didn’t sell it was likely because they didn’t release it with the DotM toys like they should have.
This leads to an unmistakable conclusion. Decepticon Leader toys don’t sell because Hasbro makes lousy Decepticon Leader toys. The only good ones were Brawl and Starscream, and Brawl was a throw away character, and some people aren’t going to spend Leader money on a toy that is not of a relevant character. Starscream they released after the line was over for a movie in which he had died. Decepticon Leaders not selling is due to Hasbro’s failures.
I also think a Leader Hound would have been absolutely awesome with piles of accessories, especially if they could have given him a voice chip with John Goodman screaming, “YOU’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” I’d have bought three (one in robot mode, one in vehicle mode, and one on my desk so I can push the button all the time). If any character deserved a Leader class toy it was Hound who had maybe the best scene in the movie as he’s making a last stand protecting the seed and humans all by himself against hoards of Decepticons. Movie Hound is badass and deserved better.
Boy, did they really screw the pooch with the Voyagers. Optimus Prime was pretty great. Hound would have been the best toy in the line, but his damn weapons keep falling off because they didn’t design the pegs right. This is an unconscionable design flaw. Drift, while a repaint and remold of the one of the best toys in the Dark of the Moon line, and the best helicopter Transformer of all time, but looks nothing like he should. We would have been better off with a Generations Springer remold so he was at least a Triplechanger. Galvatron is pretty cool, though much simpler than most Voyager toys. I really can’t complain about him. Slog could have been a great toy, but that soft plastic flap that is supposed to make his dinosaur chest and cover his robot head doesn’t stay in place at all. It is an absolute fail. Add to all this that we should have had some Voyager cars. Lockdown at least, and a Crosshairs would have been great. A Voyager Snarl would have been great too, but then I’m biased because I always loved the Stegosaurus.
Do I really need to say anything about these? They’re fun for the kids. I would have no problem with these if not for there being so many One Step Changers and Power Battlers.
Flip & Change / Smash & Change
This line is a bit odd. The only Smash & Change toy is Optimus Prime. The rest are Flip & Change. These, like the Dino Sparkers, are fun for kids, though the cares are not very well designed. I’m just not sure we really needed five of them. All three cars have the exact same transformation. Had they not done Bumblebee and Drift, this would have been a better line. Grimlock was okay. Prime wasn’t awful. The cars just weren’t good at all.
Titan Guardians & Titan Heroes
I understand the existence of the Titan Heroes line. Hasbro has been making 12 inch toys with little articulation in all their major lines. It makes sense to do that with Transformers as well, they just don’t translate as well as others do. As to the Titan Guardians, they seem to be a throwback to the two foot tall robot figures of old. Not really very good, and a pain in the ass to store. Again, these would have been fine for the kids line if not for there being so many One Step Changers and Power Battlers.
One Step Changers
There are entirely too many of these crappy things. Some aren’t bad. The ones that transform like the Drift car (HO Bumblebee, Prowl, and Rollbar) are pretty cool. The cars that pop open are awful. That is Crosshairs, Lockdown, and the only Stinger we got which was impossible to find. I only ever saw the one I bought in stores. Some of the Dinobots weren’t awful. Grimlock, Slash, and Slug sort of unfold heir arms out to the side to transform. The rest is a mixed bag. RotF Megatron should never have been made, there was no need. Galvatron was okay as was Drift. Bumblebee was awful. Steeljaw wasn’t much better. Strafe and Hound weren’t too bad. Optimus Prime wasn’t terrible. This line just didn’t need so many toys, especially with so many of them being bad.
We also got a couple of larger One Step Changers. Mega Bumblebee wasn’t terrible, but really wasn’t necessary. Were there fewer of the smaller ones, this would be less annoying. Chomp & Stomp Grimlock is not a toy collectors would enjoy, but kids would love. Can’t complain about this one. I would have spent hours playing with it when I was a kid. It’s toys like this that we should have for younger kids, and not piles of poorly conceived One Step Changers that are terrible because they had to be designed to change in one step.
Like One Step Changers there are just to many of these. Plus several of these characters should have had deluxe toys instead. It’s sort of a mixed bag. Bumblebee and Crosshairs are incapable of lowering an arm, so they suck. Strafe and Hound are okay. Galvatron and Optimus Prime’s action features don’t work very well at all. Grimlock is awful. His tail ends in a fist holding his weapon. Lockdown might be in the running for the worst toy ever. It looks like he’s drunk and walking on his ankles. He’s absolute garbage. I wouldn’t give it to a dog as a chew toy. Hasbro should be embarrassed to have released a toy this bad. People should be fired for it. Okay, I’m done ranting about Lockdown. Scorn and Snarl look awesome and Drift has a really cool action feature. Slug looks pretty good too. Probably the best three toys in the line are the last three that are so hard to get, most people will never have them. High Octane Bumblebee’s action feature is great and Junkheap is pretty awesome. Vehicon has an awesome vehicle mode, albeit with a lousy head sculpt and poorly functioning action feature in robot mode.
There are just so many Power Battlers and One Step Changers that should never have been made and had Deluxes instead. It’s sad, really.
Kre-O Building Sets
Having finally figured out that building sets that have to be disassembled to transform suck, Hasbro did a reasonably god job with these. The Dinobots were cool and the Kreons are always cool. The only problem is the Elite Optimus Prime, which was apparently only available at a convention is Asia and at TRU stores in Canada for one day only. I’m still looking for one. There was also two sets, the Silver Knight Kreon five pack and Decepticon Replicator Chamber which were never going to be released in the USA, most likely since Kre-O was exclusive to TRU and Stinger (from the replicator set) was exclusive to Walmart and Silver Knight Optimus Prime was exclusive to Target. This exclusivity crap, especially for a main character like Stinger, was really stupid.
Kre-O Custom Kreons
These things are such a complete waste, especially when we still don’t have Micro-Changers of core TF characters. Wave 3 never showed up in the USA at all.
Kre-O Micro-Changer Blind Buys
The two waves did include a bunch of G1 characters along with some new random ones. What really annoys is that we didn’t get any of the core AOE characters. No Drift. No Hound. No Lockdown. None at all. It makes no sense. Wave 2 never showed up in the USA at all.
Kre-O Micro-Changer Combiners
These are all new characters with no fiction. Some of them are pretty cool, but honestly, I would have preferred some G2 combiners.
Construct Bots Dino Riders
As there were no new Construct Bots shown at Toyfare, I am assuming the line has been canceled. The Dino Riders were pretty cool. Unfortunately, they suffer from the same problem as the rest of the line, the underlying design of all of them is the same. Still, these were cheap and small and pretty cool for what they are.
Construct Bots Dinobot Warriors
I actually really like these. The vehicles were pretty cool and better designed than previous Construct Bots. When the Dinobot partner becomes armor and weapons for the robot they look pretty great. I would not have minded if they had done a few more of these.
Construct Bots Dinobots
Leave it to Hasbro to get it right just before they cancel a line. The Dinobots was unquestionably the best of the Construct Bots. They did a great job designing a geared mechanism that was part of their transformation. I was really disappointed that we never got Slog and Snarl as Construct Bots. There was a large Grimlock toy, which was okay, but just too large in my opinion.
Overall: There were some great toys in the Age of Extinction line. There were also some complete crap fests. There were entirely too many geared towards little kids and not enough Deluxe, Leader, and Voyager toys. It’s sad that a celebrated brand like Transformers has been so mishandled. They are making some of the same mistakes with the RID line, ignoring the fact that collectors are interested in the new cartoon and only making toys for kids. They are doing a half decent job with Generations Combiner Wars, but are making the mistake of using IDW’s awful changes to classic characters rather than staying with the true source material. They are realizing that to some degree. The upcoming release of Quickslinger (Slingshot) and Break-Neck (Wildrider) is a good sign. And to be fair, they are making some good calls such as making Grove a Legend rather than a Deluxe to make him better in scale with his teammates. So it’s not all bad. I really hope they have learned some lessons from the mess that was Age of Extinction. Unfortunately, history indicates they won’t learn enough of them.
You can read all my Age of Extinction reviews and see pictures of all my AOE and TF 2014 merchandise here.
Thanks for reading!