Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: Transmetal IIs 

Minor Season 3 SPOILER ahead.

Well, actually, it's a MAJOR spoiler, but by this time everyone probably 
already knows it, thanks to some screaming headers a couple of months 
back.  It might even have been revealed already in the episodes that have 
aired, but I wouldn't know since I STILL haven't seen them yet.  Anyway, 
if you want to remain 100% unspoiled, stop reading now.  Otherwise, roll 
on, baby, roll on.

Now see, wasn't that more fun than me not including the spoiler space, 
someone else scolding me for it, me angrily replying, and half the group 
jumping in on one side or another for or against spoiler space, and the 
whole thing turning into a colossal debate which eventually degrades into 
an argument over Hitler's motives in World War II?


To the point: when I couldn't find the Strawbs and King Crimson CDs that 
I was looking for this evening, my lust to spend carried me to the local 
Walmart for the first time in many months, where I plonked down way too 
much money for four of the new TMII figures.  Oddly, I passed on Sonar 
(the bat-guy Maximal), who was the only one which impressed me in the 
initial photos.  Instead I got Cheetor and Dinobot (the two figures 
slated for the show -- that's the spoiler), Ramulus (based on everyone's 
recommendations), and Scarem, whose creature mode struck me as cool.  As 
for Op Minor, he looks worse in person than in the photos.

Initial impressions:
 Dinobot: blows the original out of the water!  Messy robot but cool!
 Cheetor: decent beast; crap robot. Must-have only for show completists.
 Ramulus: Not as fantastic as everyone indicated, but still quite good.
 Scarem: Freaky.  Me like.  Has problems but not bad.

DINOBOT: The pix on the 'net made this guy look the size of a Regular to 
me, so it was a bit of a shock to see just how big he is in the package.  
He's basically creamy white, with dark blue torso and maroon chrome 
shoulder pads.  His dino mode looks killer, literally: he's got claws and 
spikes all over the place, and a nasty looking dino head with huge 
mandibles of death.  He captures the feel (if not the look) of a 
velociraptor much better than the original Dinobot toy did.  His tail is 
excellent: it contains a rubberized middle section; a segment near the 
base causes it to swish back and forth when turned -- a perfect 
recreation of the motion that the original Dinobot used to make on the 
show.  His legs (which become his robot-mode arms) are vastly more 
posable than the original, and look cool in almost any pose thanks to all 
the claws they sport.  From what I've read, I had expected those 
simulated "hoses" (which run from mid-limb to his arms and feet) to get 
in the way, but so far I haven't discovered any limitations that they 
impose on posing him (though they do make it a bit harder to get him to 
*hold* those poses.)  They are made of the same kind of soft pastic as 
Depth Charge's knee-cap thingies, so they do bend when they need to.  
What *does* block certain poses are small tabs right by the joints on his 
claws, but they look like they could be filed off.  His head can look up 
but not down; he can also look a bit to either side.  Aside from that, my 
only real problem with this mode is the way the beast arms come off his 
torso -- something about them just doesn't look right.

Transformation to robot mode is confusing as all heck the first time 
through, since there are no clear "beast parts" or "robot parts" aside 
from the heads.  Once everything is in place, however, there are a number 
of hole-and-posts to keep things in place.  The robot mode... ain't too 
great.  His limbs are a bit too spindly; his claws can be bent into 
something which barely approximates hands.  There's no place to put his 
tail (which BTW is permanently curved to one side when not in use.)  His 
chrome pieces become shoulder pads which almost completely surround his 
head, blocking his vision in most directions.  Two soft-plastic pieces 
attached to the chrome bits look as though they were originally meant to 
swing out of the way somehow (look at how they're attached on the inside 
of the chrome pieces), but now they just sit there and make the blockage 
even worse.  The robot head captures some of the feel of the original 
Dinobot, and for once those spikey teeth don't look out of place.  He's 
got a single round "infrared"-lookin' eye.  Heh.  "The Borg take Dinobots 
body and assimilate it, WITH HONOR!"  Overall he looks more like the 
Terminator than a Transformer, but whatever.  Just put him back in dino 
mode, and he's cool again.

CHEETOR: Beast mode looks cooler than I had anticipated.  It reminds me a 
bit of the Hellhound drone that the Mayhem Attack Squad used in the UK 
comics, or maybe the Invid Hellcat drones from the Sentinals series.  His 
bent back makes him look more like a monkey than a cat, especially since 
his head is kind of invisible alongside the huge bulk of his torso.  The 
lack of proper wrist jointing impairs his posability in the front legs.  
He has a cannon mounted on his spine, which lifts up to fire (revealing 
really cool spikes underneath it).  He isn't symetrical; he's got chrome 
highlights (armor?) on his left side beast limbs but not the right side.  
Oooo, there's his "spark crystal" (under the chrome molding on his leg).  
Hmph.  Big deal.  Personally, I wouldn't have even mentioned it on the 
packaging, but rather just left it as a cool little surprise.

Transformation is pretty simple and easy, just rotate the beast head into 
the chest and flip out the robot head, then fiddle with the limbs till 
everything looks satisfactory.  Like Dinobot, he lacks any place to store 
his tail in robot mode.  Yeesh, his robot head has achieved new heights 
of unpleasantness.  He's sporting a lopsided scowl, with upper teeth 
sticking out on one side of his mouth, and lower teeth bared on the other 
side.  One eye is narrowed, the other not -- he's giving you a cockeyed 
stare.  Except for the head crest, it really looks more like an evil 
Silverbolt than Cheetor.  And that awful "hair" molding is back... 
Cheetor looks like the wolfman's brother.  Finally, the face is all grey, 
except for the eyes; something about that doesn't look right.  His left 
arm is stuck in a 90-degree bend at the elbow; combined with the three 
outstretched claws that form his hand, this makes him look like he wants 
to shake your hand.  Well, actually, combined with the scowl on his face, 
it looks like he's being forced to shake your hand against his will.  His 
right arm is almost as inflexible at the elbow, despite the presence of a 
ball joint; the wrist on this arm doesn't have a rotator joint, meaning 
he's eternally holding out his hand palm-down.  At the wrist is attached 
some sort of useless chrome thing that looks like Cyclonus's head with a 
hole where the face would go.  The instructions call it a shield, but it 
seems rather small and poorly-placed.  His legs are nearly as hobbled as 
his arms; he can't straighten them at the knees, meaning he's eternally 
crouching.  Something about his proportions is displeasing to me.  His 
chest is too big and barrel-like; his thighs are too fat, his ankles too 
skinny; his arms stick out too far from his side.  Overall, I just don't 
like this mode much at all.

Tricks: Don't forget to swing the arms up at the shoulder, or his 
proportions will look even worse than they do already; this task is made 
much easier if you pull the arms out from his sides just a little, so 
they slide over the small posts that hold them in place.  His launcher is 
removable by the same dubious system as Iguanus/Megatoron's tail/gun; the 
cool spikes serve as the handle (a function they do not perform very 
well.)  When going back to cat mode, remember that the backside of the 
piece that holds his robot head ends up as part of his back in beast 
mode... I forgot and had a dickens of a time figuring out how his waist 
connected to his cat torso.

RAMULUS:  Strange... his package art looks almost like a cell-animation 
cartoon, rather than a painting.  His beast mode looks stupendous, with 
just one little complaint: how the hell can he see where he's going if 
he's staring at the ground beneath him?!  Efforts to get the head to 
point forward are futile due to the way it's hinged; when I tried, his 
mane and horns popped off and flew across the room.  Guess he really is 
going to ram some stuff, 'cause he sure can't see where he's going with 
his head like that.  Otherwise he has terrific proportions and good 
coloring, and the horns look awesome.  The view you get when he's in the 
package doesn't really do him justice; you've got to take him out to see 
him well.  Well, I should admit that his rear hooves are vastly 
oversized, but they still look cool, if not realistic.  Like Cheetor and 
Dinobot, he has one main color (slate grey), two secondary colors (dark 
brown and ruddy maroon chrome), and small amounts of a highlight color 
(dark blue).  Looks like the designers learned the lesson of putting too 
many colors on a figure... thank goodness.  Now if only we can get them 
over their Spawn fetish...

Transformation is harder than Cheetor but easier than Dinobot.  He has 
nice proportions, and better yet he has normal-looking fists instead of 
claws or some such.  I'm not sure I see what everyone was raving about; 
maybe it's just that he's good in comparison to the rest of the lot.  
Something about him evokes the feel of a G1 Transformer -- I think it's 
the smallish arms and huge boots.  He DOES look nice... I guess I was 
just expecting another TM Tarantulus or something.  His mane and horns 
form a weapon of some sort; a lever makes the horns kind of wave toward 
each other like the original Airazor's wings did.  His face sports the 
same cockeyes as Cheetor, but at least his mouth is symetrical.  About 
the only limitations on his movement are a lack of ankles and a head that 
moves only side-to-side.  Cripes, it just hit me -- with those wrist-
mounted claws and 'winged' face, he bears an uncanny resemblance to the 
X-Men's Wolverine.  Wierd.

Taking him back to beast mode is tough.  Going the other way, you were 
pulling out stuff; here you have to figure out how it goes back in.  
TRICKS for this transformation: don't forget to push the robot head back 
down; after that everything else falls into place.  The robot fists do 
NOT go on those two pegs that they end up next to; those are for the 
robot mode only.  And alas, there appears to be no way to keep his lower 
torso from flapping around loosely.

SCAREM: Yeah, he scared me alright, as I was taking him out of the 
package.  Pushing him out from his plastic molding makes him look like 
some kind of Aliens monster rising from its cocoon or something -- 
freaky.  Bug mode features two Big Horkin' Claws in front, and two oddly 
jointed pairs of bug legs which I quickly discovered can be joined 
together by a single hole-and-post.  These become his robot legs, and 
answer another of my repeated complaints -- that of insectile legs 
sticking out from all over the place from the robot mode.  It's nice to 
see them addressing this problem, even if this attempt is a bit weak 
since it leaves him without functioning knees, and the two insect legs 
tend to come apart.  Otherwise his transformation is pretty standard; 
just flip the insect head onto his back (instead of the chest), rotate at 
the waist, and swing the carapice halves out of the way.  Space that is 
wasted on the spark crystal could have been used to get those carapice 
pieces out of the way; as is, they end up in *front* of his shoulders, 
meaning that -- like Dinobot -- he can't really see anywhere but directly 
in front of him.  His arms are all bent out of shape (that seems to be 
the key phrase for TMIIs, actually).  Instead of hands he has molded 
chrome sawblades with giant sickles hanging off of them.  He can't bend 
at the elbows because of the way the socket for the ball joint is made -- 
it has to be that way to get the claws into position for beast mode.  
Beast mode stands well on its legs, thanks to the unjointed front pair of 
legs.  Color is reddish-orange limbs, green chest, dark silver-blue 
chrome back and claws -- a nice mix.  For some reason, perhaps because 
both his modes are so squat, he strikes me as a Transmetal version of 
Powerpinch (though the similarity is nowhere near as striking as the 
Razorclaw/Rampage pair.)  At any rate, he's well worth $5; if Ramulus 
weren't so nice, I'd call Scarem the best buy of the bunch.

Overall: I'm not nearly as displeased with the TMIIs as I thought I would 
be; in fact I rather like the ones I got, possibly excepting Cheetor.  
They're not sensational; but they are pretty cool.  Yes, my list of 
complaints is long -- but then, it always is. :]  

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