Friday, December 31, 2010

Transformers Universe Challenge at Cybertron 3-Pack

That's right, folks.  It's Cyclonus, Galvatron and Hot Rod!  (I refuse to call him Rodimus despite what the box says.)

I was really happy I got this for the deal I did at the Singapore Toy and Comic Convention (STGCC) two weekend's ago!  After all, I'd held back on Universe and Henkei versions of both Cyclonus and Galvie, and missed out on Hot Rod because...I hesitated (Yes, the cardinal sin of hunting rare toys...)

Despite Hasbro releasing this set more than a month or so back, I still didn't stump up the cash for it. Why?  Because there was a ton of them at department stores islandwide and they were still at retail (S$69.90, that's US$53.75.)  TFs here always eventually go on sale, with prices dropping by as much as 50-70%, depending if there's a sale on top of the clearance prices or not.

Nevertheless, the rare or really popular characters get snapped up as they normally do everwhere.  And Hot Rod was one of these fave characters.  I never really saw the original single-packed Hasbro release on the shelf, let alone the shiny, chromed out Henkei version.  If I did, they would be priced at double retail and I wasn't paying through my nose for it.

So I waited.  And thankfully, I didn't have to wait too long since STGCC threw up a great deal for this set at S$45, that's about 35% off retail!  Happy, happy, joy, joy!--I was finally going to own my very first Hot Rod!!!

But since when did Hot Rod fight Cyclonus and Galvatron on Cybertron?  Didn't Hot Rod's first and last fight with Galvie happen in Unicron, just before he opened the Matrix of Leadership and became (wait for star name...) Rodimus Prime?  Maybe that's what Hasbro was going for, pretending that lil' Hot Rod here was his 'trixed up Prime self, hence the name on the box.  A lil' lame, but still a commendable effort on Hasbro's part to fool the kids.  Yeah, because we kids who were around in 1986 to watch the movie ain't being' fooled! :P
Packaging strategy aside, let's see how this trio fared against the ranks of the rest of the Henkei/TF Universe!

Hot Rod (Rodimus)
Like: A great sculpt, both in car and robot mode.  True to cartoon likeness but successfully re-imagined to be a little more complex and "up to date."  I really like his head sculpt, "wings", hot rod pipes and gangsta engine block. 

Like: His funky red and yellow color scheme.  It's true to the movie, where he's almost hot pink. Almost, so this "chilli red" is perfect for a repaint/redeco.

Like: Ease of transformation.  His chest flips over his head, his arms tuck in by his sides, and his legs tuck up into a frog-like postion.  Then his wings flip down to form the back.  Simply genius!

Like: The leg articulation, the best part of which is the forward bending motion.  He can literally bring his knees to his chest, straighten his legs and almost touch his toes! (But for his ahoulder articulation.)

Dislike: Arm articulation.  He gets a 90 degree bend out of his elbows, which is great.  But his shoulder ball-joints are restricted so that he can't raise his arm out to the side very much at all.

Like: His photon laser/tailpipe.  It's a wonderful use of an accessory to make it part of the vehicle mode and easily stored.  He can hold his photon laser realy tightly in both hands as well as on his back/in the back in car mode.  Oh yeah, it also shoots a projectile!  Weeee!

Dislike: In car mode, he looks short of decos and rather plain.  Missing the flames on the front wheel tops and behind front wheels that the Henkei version has.

Dislike: The colors of painted parts are a little, well, "off."  The light blue windshield and windows is a little weird and flat.  The tailpipe flame/projectile is also painted the same blue and came with some paint chips.  Not good at all.

The yellow flames on his chest can barely be made out against a slightly darker yellow.  The yellows are so close that in some shots you can't really make them out from each other.

 The white on Hot Rod's face also doesn't completely cover the entire surface right to the top of his head.  His "horns" are also very lightly picked out in gold and should be bolder.  Why not paint them yellow to match his wings and flames?

Like: That he's got a flip put data-com communicator!  While that's what they call it in his instructions, it's more reminiscent of the wrist buzz-saw he uses during the movie to free himself of some cybernetic seaweed/tentacles on the Quintessons' planet.  He uses it to save Kup, too so it's a fun feature to have. :)

Dislike: Some parts look brittle, especially at the joints where they have metal pins. I didn't handle the toy roughly at all but these areas have plastic stress mark already--a little disappointing and makes you wonder at the quality of plastic used to make this toy.


Aesthetics: 7/10 - Some might think his red is little too "hot pinkish," but I quite like it. The issues I have are with the weird blue for the windshield/windows, the sloppy face, and the faded horns.  There's also a lack of decos in car mode.  But that's what customization is for, isn't it? Heh.

Hot Rod also lacks one thing that most good TFs have: light piping for his eyes.  But that's something that's easily forego-ableif the sculpt is great like it is in this instance.

Poseability: 8.5/10 - I just love the forward bend you can get from his legs at the hips.  It's a good as it can get.  This guy's got no waist, as with most TFs, but his ball shoulders are limited to virtual swivels, which limits the his ability to point a gun.

Fun: 8/10 - It Hot "You go The Touch" Rod!!!  And he's got a rockin' sculpt at the right size that's in proportion with Voyager Optimus Prime and other Deluxe figures. Yeah, he's all fun and games until he opens that darn all goes downhill from there. Lol.

Value: 8/10 - At a third of a S$45 3-pack, this guy costs only S$15 (US$11.50). That's the price of most Universe Deluxes at clearance.  Pity you can't get him on his own right now, though.  So you get the best Hot Rod sculpt in a unique color, without having to search high a low for it. He's good value even at double the price, but I wouldn't pay more than that, since he isn't all decoed out anyway.

Overall: 8/10 - He is, after all, a pretty hard to find and sought after figure.  So a solid rating for this guy despite his flaws.  A touch up here and there and his appeal would improve greatly.


Like: He looks great in robot mode, due in large part to his color scheme.  This may not be 100% cartoon accurate, but as far as his toy goes, the right parts are highlighted molded purple and white so that the figure stands out even from a distance.  This means you don't have to look at him up close to realize what partsare what on the figure.

Like: The size of his arm cannon.  It's just the right size in proportion to Galvie, not too big and not too small.  In addition, the cannon transforms to become slimmer and less flat than in tank mode, making look really great on his arm.

Like: His granny face. It's all pissy and sour--just like the cartoon! :P

Dislike: Kibble.  And lots of it.  His butt kibble and backpack kibble are especially much and get in the way of his shoulder swivels.  The junk in the trunk blocks his legs, which is a pity because he's actualy got some decent aritcualtion there.

Like: That he transforms to a tank instead of a standing cannon of some sort. It makes for better display/play value, I feel.

Dislike: His size.  He's too small and it's very disappointing.  Why not make him a Voyager Class figure?  Some of these guys need it.  They deserve it.  If Megatron was a Voyager, why not Galvie too?  It'll just allow him to get beat up by Henkei Voyager Prime and Ultra Magnus in Fansproject armor. Or at least give him a fighting chance.  As it is he just looks puny.

Dislike: His really complicated transformation.  Then when you're finally done wrestling this guy to the ground two hours later, you find all the parts don't tab together well.  He ends up feeling less like a tank and more like a row boat. This wouldn;t be bad if it were 1985, when sometimes certain robot  modes weren't all that tight. BUt even during those times, vehicle modes were pretty solid, and Galvie here isn't in tank mode.

Dislike: His cannon arm articulation.  It's swivel only at the shoulder, hanging off a sliding hinge. He can't point out to the side (due to the size of the cannon's butt), but can point...across his chest!  Them's the breaks of having a big-ass laser cannon on your arm, I guess...

Dislike: That his head had fallen out in package!  Thankfully all the parts were in the package but I had to screw both halves of the head and the light piping together with a tiny screw.  The head is still kinda loose and has a gap on each side because I don't have a tiny enough screwdriver!

Dislike: His left arm ball joint is really loose.  Hanging on to Galvie by the arm only is enough for the arm to pop off.  His right arm is a movable hinge (to facilitate his tranformation) yet it still pops out randomly.  It's just a pity the whole figure is not a lot more solid.

Like: He's got great orange light piping for his eyes!

Like: Blocky legs.  They're stable and in robot mode it's broken up just enough so it doesn't look like he's standing on his treads looking like at upright tank.  The legs also have some fantastic articulation, with a swivel hinge hip, a thigh cut, a hinged knee, a cut below the knee, and a pivoting foot.  Pity it's blocked by a kibble that's meant to be...sort sort of butt loin cloth?


Aesthetics: 6/10 - His limbs and cannon look great, especially the lower half of the body.  The torso and head are a tad small and the kibble on his back and butt just kills it.  The colors are a plus point, with right amouns of purple, the nice white, and bits of red and orange.  But overall Gavatron needs to be bigger.

Poseability: 6/10 - He's got some great PoAs, but they're all limited or blocked.  The main thing that needs to have a great range of motion is the arm cannon, and that's got the worst range of motion of all his four limbs.  The main hindrance to Galvie's articualtion?  Yes, the back and butt kibble.

Fun: 6/10 - I wanna pose him beating down on Hot Rod and Ultra Magnus.  I wanna have him in my display holding The Matrix aloft with his light piping aglow.  I wanna have him in tank mode looking menacing and blowing away onrushing Autobots.  Well, that's all not going to happen because of the poor articulation.  Except the last thing, that one will be due to size--he's practcaly the same size as Bumblebee!

Value: 6.5/10 - As cheap as he is as part of a 3-pack, all the flaws just make him seem like just a lot of trouble just to transform into something that doesn't look great or even have a really stable form. It's a reall pity because I think if they'd made him in Voyager size then he'd have a lot less problems and would sure be worth the extra money you;d have to shell out for a bigger class of Transformer.

Overall: 6.2/10 - Galvatron really seems to get to no love, both from his designers and from this review.  Heh.  What I do see though is a pretty innovative transformation, great PoAs, good-looking colors and even a great head sculpt.  But somwhow they all don;t seem to have come together too well.


Like: That he's the most cartoon accurate version of the character to date.  There have been two previous color schemes of him released before--the Universe Classics single and the Henkei release.  The Universe was purple and grey, while the Henkei version had purple, shiny purple, silvers and pinks, even (IIRC).  But color aside, what makes him appealing is his sculpt.  Great head, good proportions, maybe a little skinny, but certainly tall enough to go side by side with other Deluxe figures, and maybe even the odd Voyager.

Like: Great transformation.  His body unclips and reforms by clipping together.  You'd never be able to guess how he'd transform if you saw him in either modes.  Yet once you follow the instructions and try him once, Cyclonus becomes easy to transform, instinctive, even.  And it's all down to its great design.
Dislike: Joint broke!  Well, I may dislike the joint for having broken even though I didn't use unusual force on it (I blame the poor quality of the assembly), but I have to say the sculpt is so good that his arm can just simply clip on in either mode and no one would be the wiser.  In fact, all these shots of Cyclonus are taking place post arm-twisting accident.  The arm doesn't fall off in robot or vehicle modes, which is a testament to the strength of the sculpt.

Like: The colors!  His colors are spot on, if not really pleasing.  He's made up body parts molded from three different shades of purple.  The darkest covers most of his body, his forearms, knees and "toes" are a slightly brighter shade, while his thighs, biceps, and fists are made of this silvery light lilac that perfectly completments the rest of his body!  Throw in some paint for detail and he's complete.  There's purple on the front of his shoulders to match the forearms, silver for his face, "neck", and abs, a touch of red and a some orange on his front abdomen and viola! A great job!

Like: He comes with Nightstick!  The guy not only transforms into a gun, he's also got articulation!

Like: That Cyclonus has got red light piping for his eyes! It's something that we've been spoiled with when it comes to TFs. And it's such a simple and elegant feature that adds value to both the look and the playability of the toy.


Aesthetics: 7.5/10 - Great to look at, but not as good as Hot Rod/Rodimus.  The colors are great, but he does look a little skinny from certain angles and Nightstick looks really thick when held by Cyclonus.

Poseability: 7.5 /10 - Pretty decent.  His arms has enough PoAs to simulate pointing out to the side.  His legs are great, but like Hot Rod, he doesn't have a waist.  He's stable enough when it comes to various stances, but he's no Hot Rod or even Galvatron, who have much blockier feet.  But Galvatron has his own problems (see above), while Hot Rod is just stellar when it compared to the 2 Decepticons in the pack.  Cyclonus is in the midle, but definitely closer to the Rod.

Fun: 8/10 - I have as much fun trasforming him back and forth as I do trying to make him battle his arch-nemesis Ultra Magnus.  In fact I have more fun doing that, because Ultra Magnus (with Fansproject armor on) is way too huge for this guy, who is supposed to be the same size as Rodimus' No. 2.  Too bad they decided to make all the Decepticon fighter jets Deluxe-sized because they sure would fit in with the Autobots eter if they were Voyagers.

Value: 8/10 - He comes with his Targetmaster gun, Nightstick!  That in itself is awesome because it's like having a whole other 1/8th of a Transformer!  Jokes aside, the addition of the mini transformable companion and the re-molded colors make Cyclonus worth at least a second look, especially if, like me, you don;t own one of his older releases.

Overall: 7.75 - Cyclonus borders on greatness--it's just his overall size I have a problem with.  He could afford to be much bigger and a little chunkier, though the latter is a minor issue.  If you're putting together a squad of Decepticon jets you'll problably go for Starscream and his Seekers first.  But if you're a post-"cartoon movie" fan then you'll surely dig this redeco of Galvatron's lieutenant.

Overall 3-Pack Rating: 7.25/10 - If you're getting Challenge at Cybertron simply because of Hot Rod, it may not be worth it.  If you don't have a Cyclonus as well, then it's good 3-pack to get because these two are the superior figures of the set.

Despite having been released twice before now, this version of Cyclonus has the best color scheme.  If you do have both Hot Rod and Cyclonus already and your primary target is Galvatron, I'd say wait till Hasbro comes up with a better (or bigger) sculpt for Galvie.

Otherwise, you've got to be as mad as the Decepticon leader himself to be wanting to buy the set and chuck 'Rod and Cyclonus...Unless...Unless you found it in your Christmas stocking on the morning of the 25th.  Even then you'd have to be crazy--throwing away toys?!?  Santa may not have delivered to you that Masterpiece Optimus Prime everyone so covets, but he did give you a free toy--three, in fact!  Ho, ho, ho!

Merry Christmas and Happy a Happy New Year, everybody!  May all your stockings only be filled with action figures and your X'mas trees be uprooted with the largest of playsets! ;D


  1. Sweet review! I love that Ultra Magnus!

  2. Thanks! Yeah, He's quite a piece of work! :)

    Fansproject (who made him) recently released a similar suit of armor to turn Hot Rod (Rodimus) into Rodimus Prime. Not so hot on that one, though. To chunky for me. :/

    Hey, thanks for readin'! :)

  3. I have Cyclonus and Galvy already and certainly do not need another Galvatron but I might look for the Battle in Space set which loses the Galv and adds a matrix, then I can have a "and his armada" and a Hot Rod, Seemples

  4. Great review. I pretty much skip out on Transformers for some reason, but with the newer figures articulation, I'm always tempted.

  5. @Prowl26 - Oh yeah great call on that one. If I'd known a Battle in Space set was coming out before I swooped for this 3-pack I'd have waited. Having the Matrix over Galvatron would be simply awesome!

    @Lemonjuice - Thanks! Perhaps it's the travesty that's Bayformers that is making you hold off subconsciously? Lol. Yeah ,the new stuff just gets better and better. I don't know how much you can hold out for, LJ! ;)

  6. For some reason, I'd really like to get Nightstick. Not sure why.

  7. I'll probably break down and buy one if I ever see the WFC Soundwave in the wild.

  8. @googum - I know why! Because Nightstick looks a ton more playable than Galvatron! :P

    @LJ - Ooh! I got a Soundwave for a colleague and he's got it displayed on his desk. It looks real fine! There are many Soundwaves in the wild here...though they tend to disappear after a while...

  9. What's interesting is that I just recently saw this pack at our local Target here in Florida, but it only contains two of the three! It contains Hot Rod and Cyclonus, but no Galvatron. Of course, it also costs $19.99 if I recall correctly, so that may be it. They may not have felt that the full set would have sold, and as often as I have been to toy stores around here, I have to agree. The large boxed Transformer "sets" definitely shelf-warm here. Those combiner packs, the movie cars (with human figures), and so on. You can find them just collecting dust.

  10. @Forrest - Yup, that's the Battle in Space set that we're talking about. It's just Cyclonus and Hot Rod that includes the Matrix of Leadership! It's still pretty fresh in the market. :) Also, now I know what to hunt for if I ever return to Florida!

    Whereabouts in Florida do you live? :)

  11. Exactly, that's what I am seeing on the shelf here. The Matrix, I admit, is a tad disappointing, because it appears to be just a lump of silver plastic. That's what really makes or breaks the set for me. I told you before I had sort of stopped collecting, but I think the truth is that I have become very selective in what I plunk down the cash for. I have been back on a GI Joe kick (despite swearing to myself I was done buying Joes) due to the extreme level of detail the new Pursuit of Cobra figures have going on for them. Also, I live in Orlando, which seems to be important to Hasbro, since we seem to get all the new toylines pretty much as soon as I seem pictures of new toys online in various places. I can usually pick them up a week later.

  12. Wow. thanks for the headsup on the Matrix. Good call on holding back. ;P

    Yes, Joes are probably some of the most underrated toys. Great detail, tons of accessories, and a lower price point. Yo Joe! :)


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