Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book Review: Selby's Secret

Review:  #421
Title:  Selby's Secret
Series:  Selby - 1st book
Author:  Duncan Ball
Read Before:  yes
My Comments:  Simple and enjoyable with a few flaws.  This is a collection of mini stories about a talking dog called Selby.  The stories themselves are actually entertaining but every single one of them has something in common, that is that Selby always nearly gets caught talking but somehow manages to avert this crisis.  This makes the stories predictable and more than often, makes you roll your eyes.  Even in this short book, this trait gets annoying.  Otherwise, it is fairly decent.
Rating:  6/10

Monday, April 28, 2014

Toy Review: Transformers Generations Mini-Con Assault Team (IDW Deluxe)

Review:  #172
Name:  Mini-Con Assault Team
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Mini-Con
Line:  Generations
Year of Release:  2014
Size Class:  Deluxe (Wave 8)
Variations:  none as of this date


Mini-Con Assault Team comes with Dark Cybertron Chapter 4.  Obviously, it follows on from the first three chapters (of which I pretty much have no clue about, only reading Chapter 1 that came with Armada Starscream).  That said, it was still interesting although it did jump from place to place too much.  Unfortunately, Mini-Con Assault Team doesn't even make one single appearance, so what was the point of including this particular comic?  Sure, they're Ammonites but it doesn't show off the figure in any way, it's quite disappointing.  Other than that, a nice bonus and the artwork is nice.

HEAVYTREAD (Vehicle Mode):

Let's start off the review with Heavytread.  He transforms into a tank, with supposedly mine claws at the front but for it's got these weird scoops on top.

This is a well formed tank overall, there's a small gap at the rear but otherwise, he looks goods from all angles.

There are green painted tank treads and Heavytread has small plastic wheels on the underside to assist him in rolling on top of a table or whatnot.  Due to the transformation, the turret is fixed and cannot rotate.

Heavytread is Mini-Con in name only, he's much larger than your typical Mini-Con figure, being more akin to Legion size.

There's a Mini-Con insignia on the left side.  Overall, a good tank mode but it needs a bit more colour than just the blank and green.

HEAVYTREAD (Transformation):

Extremely simple, even more so than you would expect for something this size.  The turret splits in two to form his arms, flip his feet up and you're done.  Somewhat disappointing.

HEAVYTREAD (Robot Mode):

Heavytread's robot mode comes off as short and squat but also looking like he packs some seriously brute force.

The biggest kibble pieces are on the sides of his legs which are the tank treads.

The head sculpt is okay, he has a monocle.  The head is fixed which isn't a big deal at this size.

He still comes off at roughly Legion sized.

His weapon is part of the turret and cannon.  This is a big weapon, much bigger than what Heavytread can comfortably wield.

You can attach the weapon in the same way that you attach it in tank mode.  If you do it this way, it looks more like Heavytread has have a turret for an arm...

You can have him hold the post so it's more like a conventional gun but becomes too long and unwieldy.  Poseability is limited, due to how the balljoints are attached, his arms can basically swing forwards.  The legs are effectively fixed with limited forward movement.  The torso occasionally splits in half when you're trying to pose him.

Heavytread's robot mode suffers the most out of the three thanks to the combining gimmick.  He also has the most restrictive robot mode.


Perhaps the weakest mold of the set, Heavytread sacrifices a fair bit to make the combiner work.  While the tank mode is decent the robot mode suffers and becomes quite static in the process.

RUNWAY (Vehicle Mode):

Next up is Runway, who transforms into a jet.  This is a decent looking jet with good proportions and limited kibble.

The rear thrusters are a bit too big but still passable.  They're actually are the robot mode weapons and they are quite well integrated to be honest.

There's a Mini-Con insignia on the left wing.

There are some undercarriage kibble but it isn't anything major and at this size, hardly noticeable.

Just like Heavytread, Runway is approximately Legion sized.

You can see most of the robot on the underneath and can easily guess how he transforms.  Either way, this is still an impressive jet mode for such a small size plus the bonus of being able to combine.

RUNWAY (Transformation):

Runway transformation is nothing spectacular but it gets the job done.  The cockpit folds down, the legs fold down and you detach the thrusters.  It's good because anything more complex would mean smaller parts and more fiddling which is not ideal for something at this size.

RUNWAY (Robot Mode):

Runway's robot mode has largest legs but otherwise, this is a well proportioned robot that looks great.

The biggest piece of kibble is half the plane on his back but since it sits flush against his torso, it's not much of a problem.  I do wish that the wings could be pushed upwards coz it looks weird sitting so low when looking from the front.

The head sculpt is detailed but once against, it is fixed in place.

Runway is still approximately Legion sized which is great, the robot proportions aren't bad either.  He seems slim and built for speed.

As mentioned, the jet thrusters end up as the robot mode weapon.

You can peg it on either arm to become some big forearm dual cannons (reminds me of RiD Prowl's rocket thrusters).

Articulation is great, Runway has joints for shoulders, hips and knees.  He does need bigger heelspurs because currently, he can fall over pretty easily.

A great robot mode that's both visually pleasing and fun to fiddle around with.

RUNWAY (Overall):

Runway is a fantastic little figure and the strongest out of the set.  He has a good looking jet mode and a fun robot mode.  Runway is definitely the highlight of the set.

WINDSHEAR (Helicopter Mode):

Finally, the third member of the team, Windshear!  She transforms into a helicopter with a giant cannon attached to the front.

A helicopter was always a tough alt mode to pull off for a Transformer and Windshear does a good job considering the size.

You can see the robot legs folded in on the underside and the arms on both sides but all in all, this is a good helicopter mode.  The main and rear rotors spin freely and that's pretty much it for play value.

There is a Mini-Con insignia just above the cockpit.

Windshear is also the smallest figure of the set and more akin to actual Mini-Con size.  Still a little bit bigger but feels small due to the length by width proportions.

WINDSHEAR (Transformation):

Like the other two figures, Windshear's transformation is simple and effective. The legs fold down, arms fold out and cockpit folds down to form the chest.  Just due to the small size, it can be a little bit fiddly.  Otherwise, nothing much more that can be said.

WINDSHEAR (Robot Mode):

Windshear has the proportions of a female bot, with thick thighs but thin and elegant legs and arms.

She wears most of the helicopter on her back.  At least the rotor blades collapse into one longer blade.

The rear of the helicopter mode acts as a third leg, which makes Windshear super stable.

The head sculpt is okay but a bit too rounded for my tastes.  It's also hard to make out the details.  It is fixed in place, no joints whatsoever.

She loses a lot of height in this mode, so she looks a bit thin and fragile.

Her weapon is a proportionally large gatling gun that can peg on either arm.

It pegs on the outside of the forearm as she lacks the hole to hold it in her hands.

Articulation is good, she's got joints for her shoulders, hips and knees.  Sure, some poses are still awkward looking but it's forgivable.

A strong robot mode where the only flaws are the kibble and proportions.

WINDSHEAR (Overall):

A good mold, she is the second best in the set.  Both helicopter and robot modes are solid, with the robot mode winning out.


So... how well does all three figures look together?  Fairly decent, they all share the same colour scheme so that helps and they have attack alt modes.

Robot modes are a bit more mismatched but once again, the uniform colour scheme helps.  It would be better if all three were a similar height, as it is, Windshear looks really short and out of place.

CENTURION (Transformation):

Combining all three figures can be improved.  I give credit to the designer for trying but there are some minor, yet annoying, flaws that damper your enthusiasm of the figure.  First off is that while the connecting joints are good overall, the way Windshear connects to Runway can be improved due to the fact that it feels awkward and Windshear's cockpit likes to fall off.  Same goes for Runway's arms.  You end up getting this awkward looking upper section.  Then again, at this size, it's a decent attempt.


So, we finally get to the focus of the whole set, the combined mode.  The three team members combine into Centurion and he has some very distinctive features such as the upside down plane cockpit and the helicopter cockpit chest.

In general, this is a solid combined mode, they stay combined well once you've got all the attachments in place and popped any detached pieces back on.  Unavoidably, there are some large kibble pieces such as the majority of Windshear forming a backpack.

The head sculpt is menacing.  It is fixed in place due to transformation.  The rotor blades behind the head, while distinctive, is a nuisance and looks awkward.

The torso is very gappy and there's nothing you can do to close the gap.  You can try to move Runway's arms to partially cover it but that will restrict his leg movement.

Effectively three Legion toys combined, Centurion still comes off a bit shorter than your average Deluxe (not that Red Alert is an average Deluxe).

Visually, Centurion still looks impressive but a lighter colour scheme would make him work much better.  As it is, the dark green and back hides a lot of the detailing.

Poseability is okay.  He has the main joints that you would want.  The hips are restricted by Heavytread's arms, such that you need to fold it out to the sides to get any decent movement.

The individual weapons of the team members can combine into this giant huge gun.

Unfortunately, this gun is too big and unwieldy thanks to the handle situated in the middle of the weapon.  This makes the gun an awkward fit.

You can rearrange the combination to your liking, so it's all down to your personal preference.

A decent combined mode, it's not too bad but there are some flaws here that hinders your enjoyment.


Inherently, the set provides a lot of play value.  You get three individual transforming figures, plus they can combine into a larger one, all for the price of a Deluxe.  However, the execution isn't exactly the best and there are a lot of concessions made to each of the figures to make this possible.  Whether Centurion is worthwhile in the end or not, it's hard to say.  He looks good in a static pose but the slightly annoying combination method coupled with a lacklustre combined mode holds the set back.  However, this is still a worthy figure in my eyes though.


Check out other Transformers reviews here.

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